Victim ‘smirked’ over abuse claims before death

A WOMAN stabbed her elderly neighbour to death after he “smirked” as she confronted him about sexually abusing three young boys, a court heard.

The case against Sarah Sands is being heard at the Old Bailey. Picture: PA
The case against Sarah Sands is being heard at the Old Bailey. Picture: PA

Sarah Sands, 32, is on trial at the Old Bailey for murdering suspected paedophile Michael Pleasted, 77, on the evening of 28 November last year while he was on bail awaiting trial for sex assaults.

Before the killing, Sands had befriended the elderly bric-a-brac salesman and had regularly brought him home-cooked meals as a concerned neighbour.

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But after finding out about the alleged abuse, she took the law into her own hands and knifed Mr Pleasted eight times in the living room of his flat in Canning Town, east London, the Old Bailey has heard.

The victim managed to crawl into his hallway where he collapsed and bled to death.

The next morning, Sands handed herself in to police saying he had been “asking for trouble”, the trial heard.

Giving evidence in her defence, Sands told how she had drunk two bottles of wine and a small bottle of brandy before going to Mr Pleasted’s flat armed a kitchen knife – as well as a hammer and a wrench “for safety”.

She told jurors she went there to tell him that he should plead guilty to sex abuse to avoid the children concerned having to testify in court.

When asked by her barrister Sally O’Neill QC why she put the knife in her handbag, Sands said: “So he would take me seriously,” adding: “I didn’t want to go there. He had to listen to me.”

But when he opened the door to her, he just “smirked” and went on to claim his young accusers were all liars and his life was ruined, jurors were told.

Sobbing in the witness box, Sands said: “He knew who I was straight away. He turned back around for me to follow. He just smirked.

“He was not how I thought he was going to be. He was so cold. The man that I thought I knew never behaved like that. He went into the living room and sat down. I was so hurt.

“I realised I didn’t want to be there. I stood up and I was staring at him and he looked like he was going to face the window. He turned back to face me and he came towards me.

“I was frightened. It was not how it was meant to go. He was meant to listen to me.”

At this point, Sands said she took the kitchen knife out of her handbag and held it in her left hand to “show him he could not talk to me like that, that I knew him, that I loved him”.

She went on: “He was in front of me. We were staring at each other. I was poking him.

“He was looking dead into my face and he was just standing there and I don’t think either of us realised what had happened. Neither of us moved.

“I just had it [the knife] in my hand and I poked him with it in the front and that’s when we both realised at the same time what had happened and he grabbed me. He was frightening me and I pushed him away and I left. That was it.”

Ms O’Neill asked: “Were you intending to cause him really serious harm?”

Sands replied: “No. I did not stab him, I didn’t.”

The trial continues.