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It’s been eight years since a knife-wielding mother entered an elevator with her hood pulled up ready to confront a neighbour who she once considered a role model.
Her former pal, Michael Pleasted, 77, was on bail awaiting trial when Sarah Sands left him dying in a pool of his own blood.
It was later revealed that Sands’ three sons were abused by Pleasted before she took matters into her own hands by stabbing him eight times.
READ MORE: Mum tells BBC Breakfast she tracked down and killed paedo who abused her son
She spent almost four years behind bars for manslaughter after being deemed to have lost control.
This morning (November 23), the mum-of-five showed some remorse, telling the BBC: "I bring life into the world. It never occurred to me that I would be guilty of taking life out of the world."
Now a free woman, she is demanding tighter restrictions on convicted sex offenders who change their names.
And here, we take a look back at her extraordinary case which left the public divided.
Sands was a single mum doing her best to raise her children when she moved home just months before she became a killer.
The mum and her boys – Bradley, then 12, and twins Alfie and Reece, then 11 – lived in Silvertown, East London, when local man Pleasted entered their lives.
She told BBC News: “I thought he was a lovely old man. I cooked for him, looked after him, always kept him company when I had the time."
In a separate interview, Sands also described him as a “role model” and reflected on rewarding him with meals out and companionship.
But tragedy loomed shortly after Pleasted asked Bradley for help sorting newspapers at the local newsagents.
Through Bradley, he got to know his younger siblings, before eventually inviting them to his home.
Later, the brave twins told their mum what is every parent’s worst nightmare, that they had been molested. Bradley soon revealed the same thing.
Speaking with The Sun, Sands remembered: “I knew the boys. I didn’t doubt a word they said. It was awful. They were 12, so young.”
The authorities took action and arrested and charged Pleasted with the horrific offences.
But tensions grew when he he was let out on bail before the trial.
Then, on the evening of November 28, 2014, Sands knocked back two bottles of wine and a small bottle of whiskey before deciding to confront Pleasted.
CCTV footage showed her in a lift of the pensioner’s block of flats while holding a 30cm kitchen blade with her hood up.
She maintains to this day that she never intended to kill, and that her purpose was to ask Pleasted to confess, rather than drag her boys through a devastating trial.
Remembering the killing, she told The Sun: “I was frightened. It was not how it was meant to go. He was meant to listen to me. He wouldn’t listen to me. He was cold. A different man to the one who had been my friendly neighbour.
“I poked him in his front with the knife and he grabbed me. I lost control. I couldn’t let anyone else get hurt, somebody had to protect people.”
She then commenced her stabbing frenzy before returning to her neighbouring block to rid herself of the bloodstained clothes. And seeing a neighbour, she told them: “Pretend you never saw me.”
Hours later she handed herself in to police, telling stunned cops: “He can’t hurt kids now.”
The mum was later convicted of manslaughter rather than murder, and wept while she was handed a jail sentence of three and a half years, later extended to seven and a half years.
But during the trial it was unearthed that Pleasted was already a convicted paedo, having changed his name from Robin Moult.
His sick crimes spanned three decades and the monster had 24 convictions, something his neighbours and even the local housing were unaware of.
But before she could campaign for tighter name changing restrictions, Sands had to cope with being separated from her boys while she was locked up.
She told the BBC: “They were angry with me. Before I went in, we were so close and then all of a sudden, I wasn't there anymore. It was awful for them."
But Bradley, now 20, told the broadcaster he thought “hats off” to what his mum did.
However, younger brother Alife, now 19, added: “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."
Reece meanwhile said that it was “nice knowing he was dead” but added: “It didn't stop any afterthoughts, you know, we would often wake up crying [saying] 'where's mum?'"
Sands, who was released in 2018, is reunited with her loved ones, with Bradley saying “there is nothing that is going to break the family bond”.
The boys, who have all waived their right to anonymity, are encouraging other victims to speak out, saying things only get worse if you don’t talk.
Labour MP Sarah Champion was included in the BBC segment and she said some sex offenders use new identities to bypass DBS checks, therefore keeping their sinister convictions a secret.
She said: “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.”
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- BBC Breakfast
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