Mother who killed sons’ abuser asks ‘Stop paedos changing their names’
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A mother who killed her children’s 77-year-old abuser is now campaigning to stop paedophiles from being able to change their names. Sarah Sands stabbed Michael Pleasted eight times in 2014, after her children said he had sexually abused them.
Pleasted is thought to have ingratiated himself with the family as a friendly and helpful neighbour on the east London estate they were living in.
Usually found sitting outside a nearby newsagent, Ms Sands said earlier today: “I thought he was a lovely old man. I cooked for him, looked after him, always kept him company when I had the time.”
It later emerged that he had changed his name from Robin Moult to conceal a litany of child sexual abuse.
Ms Sands told BBC Breakfast: “For paedophiles, if you touch children, there have to be consequences.
“And 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.”
Her sons – Alfie, Bradley and Reece – all waived their right to lifelong anonymity as victims of abuse to speak out on the subject.
Ms Sands was convicted of manslaughter on the basis of loss of control at an Old Bailey trial in 2015.
She was eventually jailed for seven and a half years after having her sentence increased by the Court of Appeal.
Ms Sands said she had originally only intended to threaten Pleasted, who was on bail awaiting trial, to make him plead guilty so her children did not have to give evidence in court.
Her three boys had disclosed to her that, while at his flat, Pleasted had sexually assaulted them, leading to his arrest and charging with offences related to her sons.
But while awaiting trial, a judge gave him bail and allowed him to return to the housing estate. Ms Sands moved her family to her mother’s home.
On an autumn evening in 2014, she had left her flat armed with a knife and walked over to Pleasted’s flat in their Silvertown estate.
She said today that she “didn’t know what I was doing there”, but added that when she confronted him, “he was not remorseful in any shape or form.
“He said: ‘your children are lying’. The whole world froze. I had the knife in my left hand and I remember he tried to grab it.”
She maintains she did not intend to kill Pleasted, but admitted she had “taken the law into my own hands”.
She then stabbed him in what was later described as a “determined and sustained attack”, leaving him to bleed to death.
Pleasted was, at the time, facing further charges, including being accused of sexual offences against young boys in the area.
Her sons said growing up with a mother in prison was difficult for them, but while Ms Sands expressed remorse for her actions, they are rather more blunt.
Bradley told the BBC: “I thought hats off. I’m not going to deny it.”
Alfie added: “It did make us feel safer. It didn’t slow down the nightmares. 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.”
Meanwhile, Reece commented that it was “nice knowing that he was dead”, but noted: “It didn’t stop any afterthoughts, you know, we would often wake up crying ‘where’s mum?’”
Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham, argued that some offenders are using name changes to avoid criminal records checks needed for jobs including working with children.
She commented: “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 has said it has already carried out a review of the issue, adding that the UK already has strict rules in place to deal with sex offenders who are not in prison.
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