A mother of five has been handed a three-and-a-half year jail sentence for stabbing to death a convicted paedophile.
Sarah Sands, 32, attacked her neighbour Michael Pleasted in east London, weeks after hearing that the 77-year-old had been released on bail ahead of going on trial for sexual assault charges on two children aged under 13. Police were also investigating a further allegation that he had abused a third boy.
During the trial the court heard that Pleasted, who was also known as Robin Moult, had 24 previous convictions for sexual offences between 1970 and 1991, and served prison sentences for indecent assault on boys and buggery.
On the evening of the incident on 28 November 2014, Sands armed herself with a knife and confronted Pleasted about the allegations at his flat in Canning Town.
Sands then carried out a “determined and sustained attack”, leaving the victim in his living room. Pleasted then crawly to his hallway, where he collapsed and bled to death.
Hours later, Sands presented herself to police, and told an officer: “Who houses a f****** paedophile on an estate,” adding that he was “asking for trouble.”
Sobbing in the witness box at court, Sands told jurors that she had planned to urge Pleasted to admit to his crimes and spare his alleged victims from court.
However, the situation escalated after Pleasted apparently “smirked”, telling the mother that the children were were all liars who had ruined his life.
"I was frightened. It was not how it was meant to go. He was meant to listen to me," said Sands.
As Sands has been in custody for 10 months, she may be released on parole in around 11 months.
A judge at the Old Bailey cleared Sands of murder, but convicted her of manslaughter, citing a loss of control.
Describing the case as “truly exceptional”, Judge Nicholas Cooke QC said he reduced her sentence from seven years because Sands is a single mother. He went on to stress that Sands could not be regarded as “vigilante”.
“There must never be the slightest encouragement for mob rule,” he added.