Paedophile killer's sentence doubled
A woman jailed for three-and-a-half years for fatally stabbing a convicted paedophile has had her sentence more than doubled.
Court of Appeal judges in London upped the "unduly lenient" prison term originally imposed in the case of Sarah Sands, 33, of east London, to seven-and-a-half years.
Sands 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 over accusations that he had sexually assaulted young boys.
In November 2014 she armed herself with a knife and went to his flat in Canning Town, east London, to confront him about the allegations.
She stabbed him eight times and he bled to death.
Sands was cleared at the Old Bailey of murder, but convicted of manslaughter by reason of loss of control and sentenced in September.
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.
Sands, a single mother of five, watched the proceedings via video link from prison.
The sentence increase was announced by Lady Justice Macur after the court heard argument on behalf of Attorney General Jeremy Wright that three-and-a-half years was "insufficient".
A spokesman for the Attorney General's office said in a statement after the decision: " Our office received a great deal of correspondence in regards to this highly emotive and sensitive case.
"Following careful review, this case was referred to the Court of Appeal as it was felt the original sentence was unduly lenient, and the Court of Appeal increased the sentence to seven-and-a-half years."
Within hours of the attack, Sands handed herself into police, telling an officer: ''Who houses a f****** paedophile on an estate, like, seriously? He was, like, asking for trouble.''
Giving evidence during her trial, she 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. He wasn't taking me seriously. He was meant to listen to me.''
The judge who originally sentenced Sands said it was a ''truly exceptional case".
Judge Nicholas Cooke said: " 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.''
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''.
The appeal court heard on Friday that she had expressed "extreme remorse" for what she had done.
Lady Justice Macur said the trial judge was "undoubtedly faced with a particularly difficult sentencing exercise".
A lawyer acting on behalf of Sands had urged the judges not to change the sentence imposed at the Old Bailey.
Announcing the decision to increase the sentence, Lady Justice Macur said the appeal court had "given anxious consideration to the arguments on both sides of this case".
Overturning the original jail term, she said the offence "should be reflected by a sentence which takes into account all relevant factors".