Sarah Sands: mum who killed paedophile Michael Pleasted says sex offenders should not be able to change names

Sarah Sands killed a convicted paedophile after her sons revealed he had abused them. The boys have now spoken out in support of their mother.

A mother who killed a sex offender after he abused her three children is campaigning to stop paedophiles changing their names to hide their criminal history.

Sarah Sands stabbed Michael Pleasted, 77, eight times in 2014 after her sons told her he had sexually abused them. The paedophile, who lived in a block of flats which neighboured the family’s maisonette in east London, had previously been convicted for three decades of child abuse offences - but had changed his name from Robin Moult to conceal his past.

After the stabbing, Pleasted bled to death and Ms Sands was convicted of manslaughter on the basis of loss of control following an Old Bailey trial in 2015. She was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison but has been released after four - and now wants to campaign for a tightening of rules on sex offenders to protect other children.

Speaking to the BBC in new documentary ‘Killing My Children’s Abuser’, Ms Sands said: “For paedophiles, if you touch children, there has to be consequences. Hiding behind name changes… it has to be taken away from them. That right to change their name has to be taken away from them.”

Also featured in the programme are her sons Bradley, Alfie and Reece. During the trial, as with all such cases, their names could not legally be made public - but the trio have waived their right to lifelong anonymity since turning 18 so they can speak out about their experience.

They spoke of how relieved they were when they heard that their abuser had died. Alfie, who had been 11 at the time, admitted he felt “safer” after Pleasted was killed. "It didn’t slow down the nightmares,” he explained, “but it did give us a sense of security because you didn’t have to walk down the street thinking he was going to come around the corner."

His twin brother Reece added that it was “nice knowing that he was dead”. Speaking to his abuser’s previous offences, he added: “What were they doing letting him out on bail? What would make you think that he’s not going to think: ‘I know I’m going to get caught. I know I’m going to do time. Let me get four or five more kids’.”

Sarah Sands stabbed Michael Pleasted in 2014 after her sons told her he had sexually abused them. Credit: BBC

Bradley meanwhile told the BBC he thought “hats off” to his mother when he heard of what she did. “He lived literally across the road from us. I could open a window and I’d see his house.”

Talking outside the flat where she killed Pleasted, Ms Sands also commented: “He took everything from me. Still to this day there are no words to describe how it eats you up from the inside. He ripped my family apart. He ruined my life and he tried to take away the most precious thing in my life.”

She said it “eats away at her” that she cannot tell her children it was all a dream - that they will not be able to “wake up one day and [the abuse] didn’t happen.” The mother of three sobbed as she called Pleasted her and her sons’ “living nightmare” and said she’d “give [her] life for [her] babies.”

What led to the murder of Michael Pleasted?

The family had moved to their new home only months before their lives were turned upside down. Ms Sands became friends with Pleasted, who lived on his own, and admitted she thought “he was a lovely old man”. She cooked for him and kept him company when she had time.

Pleasted helped out at a local newsagents and some children in the neighbourhood had Saturday jobs working with him. He soon invited Bradley to help too, which Ms Sands told the BBC was a way to groom him and gain more access to the younger twins.

When her children disclosed to her that Pleasted had sexually assaulted them while they were at his flat, Ms Sands reported it to the police who arrested the sex offender and charged him with offences. But while he was awaiting trial, the judge gave him bail and he returned to the estate.

Ms Sands moved her family to her mother’s home, but later returned to the neighbourhood. She said she wanted to ask Pleasted to plead guilty to the charges and spare her sons the ordeal of going to court, but when she arrived, he said her children were lying.

Michael Pleasted’s criminal record spanned three decades up to the 1990s. Credit: BBC

“The whole world froze,” she said. She stabbed him then - but maintains she had not gone there with that intention. Ms Sands later handed herself in at a police station.

When asked by the BBC if she felt remorse for her actions, she replied “absolutely.” She said she has “always been raised to take responsibility for my actions” and had never thought she “would be guilty of taking life out of the world."

‘A legal loophole’ for sex offenders

There is currently a loophole in the law which allows registered sex offenders to change their name by deed poll. Labour MP Sarah Champion warned that this can help paedophiles get a new driving licence and passport, and even a new DBS check which allows them access to children.

She told the BBC: “Once they have changed their names, they are able to get a new driving licence and passport in that name. That enables them to get a new DBS check. And we are finding that these people are then going into schools and other places where there are children and vulnerable people and exploiting their positions of trust in the most horrific ways.”

The Home Office said it has carried out a review of the issue and that the UK already has strict rules in place to deal with sex offenders living in the community.