A mother of five wept as she was jailed for three-and-a-half years for stabbing to death a convicted paedophile in England.
Sarah Sands, 32, carried out the killing within weeks of hearing that her 77-year-old neighbour, Michael Pleasted, had been released on bail ahead of his trial for molesting three young boys.
She was cleared at the Old Bailey of murder but convicted of manslaughter by reason of loss of control.
Judge Nicholas Cooke QC said it was a “truly exceptional case” as he reduced her sentenced from seven years to three-and-a-half, taking into consideration her position as a single mother.
Sands has already been in custody for the past 10 months and could be released on parole and reunited with her family in as little as 11 months’ time.
The judge stressed that Sands’s case was “unique” because she had lost control rather than taken the law into her own hands and engaged in “vigilante conduct”.
He said: “There must never be the slightest encouragement for mob rule.”
Explaining his decision to lower the jail term, the judge went on: “This was a case in which the defendant promptly gave herself up to the police in a highly stressed state, never disputed responsibility for the killing as a matter of fact, did not take the opportunity to get rid of evidence and demonstrated remorse.”
During the trial it emerged that Pleasted, who also went by the name of Robin Moult, had 24 previous convictions for sexual offences between 1970 and 1991.
He served sentences of between nine months and six years for indecent assault on boys and buggery.
At the time of his death, Pleasted was on bail awaiting trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court on two charges of sexual assault on two children aged under 13. Police were investigating a further allegation he had abused a third boy.
On the evening of November 28 last year, Sands armed herself with a knife and went to his flat in Canning Town, east London, to confront him about the allegations.
After the “determined and sustained attack”, the victim crawled from his living room and collapsed in his hallway where he bled to death.
Within hours, Sands handed herself into police, telling an officer: “Who houses a f****** paedophile on an estate, like, seriously? He was, like, asking for trouble.”
Sands sobbed in the witness box as she told jurors she had gone to plead with Pleasted to admit his crimes and spare his young accusers from having to go to court.
But when he answered the door, he ignored her request and just “smirked” as he told her the boys were all liars who had ruined his life.
Sands said: “I was frightened. It was not how it was meant to go. He was meant to listen to me.”
At the time of the killing, Sands was said by the judge to be living with her family in conditions “reminiscent of Charles Dickens or Elizabeth Gaskell”.