10.40AM: Stephanie Scott’s murderer Vincent Stanford has just been jailed for life. Justice Robert Hulme said there was no alternative.
More to come
9am: IF NOT for a depraved killer, Stephanie Scott’s family would be celebrating her 28th birthday on Friday.
Instead, they will be mulling over the jail sentence for the man who took her away from them forever.
Justice Robert Hulme on Thursday morning will sentence 25-year-old Vincent Stanford for the rape and murder of Miss Scott on April 5 last year.
Stanford, 25, killed Miss Scott six days before her planned wedding to Aaron Leeson-Wooley, whom she met as a teenager at Canowindra.
Miss Scott, a teacher at Leeton High School, had gone into work on Easter Sunday to prepare lesson plans for a relief teacher who was to fill in for her while she was on her honeymoon.
Stanford was a casual cleaner at the school who stalked Miss Scott that day and pounced from behind moments after she wished him a happy Easter as she prepared to leave the school.
He dragged her into a store room, punched her 30 or 40 times until she was unconscious and sexually assaulted her before stabbing her in the neck.
She died from blunt force head trauma.
Stanford dumped his victim’s body in Cocoparra National Park, north of Leeton, and set it alight.
Stanford pleaded guilty to his horrific crimes earlier this year.
He told a psychologist he felt no anger towards Miss Scott but “had to” kill her.
Crown Prosecutor Lee Carr has urged Justice Hulme to lock Stanford up for the rest of his life, arguing he will always be a threat, while the killer’s lawyer, Janet Manuell, has asked for a determinate sentence, submitting there was a causal connection between Stanford’s autism spectrum disorder and his offending.
Miss Scott’s mother, Merrilyn, delivered a heart-breaking tribute to her daughter in a victim’s impact statement read to the Surpeme Court at Griffith during sentencing submissions on Tuesday.
“Her beautiful smile beams out at us from every photo,” Mrs Scott said.
“But we don't need photos. She is in our every cell, a heartbeat away."
Stanford has reportedly made suicide attempts while in custody over the past 18 months, including a serious attempt in April.
- Ken Grimson
Wednesday: The employers of school cleaner Vincent Stanford say there were no "red flags" raised with them about his disturbing behaviour in the lead-up to Stephanie Scott's murder.
This is despite court documents outlining how the 25-year-old killer was sighted at Leeton High School when he wasn't rostered on and was seen lingering around and entering the girls' school toilet block.
He had also managed to obtain the alarm code to the school even though the principal had requested that casual cleaners have no access to it.
Colin Joss and Co cleaning division spokeswoman Fleur Thompson told Fairfax Media if an issue was raised with the company, it would have been investigated.
"Clearly, if we had heard those sort of stories, we would have done something – we had nothing," Ms Thompson said.
"If someone had raised a concern, we would have immediately responded and investigated. No one ever raised any concerns. We had no idea."
Stanford has pleaded guilty to the murder and rape of Ms Scott, 26, on Easter Sunday last year, just one week before she was due to marry.
Ms Thompson said all mandatory police and working with children checks were done prior to his employment and that an internal review found that nothing more could have been done.
"During the six months that he was employed there was no concern raised with us about his behaviour and he completed all his cleaning tasks to the company's standards," she said.
"Unfortunately it was unpreventable, correct procedures had been followed."
She said the company and employees were all in complete shock when Stanford was charged with Ms Scott's murder.
"Everyone was in complete shock – you certainly never expect that – especially in a small country town."
- Emma Partridge
Tuesday 4PM: Vincent Stanford had thoughts of killing someone when he was as young as seven or eight and by the age of 12 was acting on those thoughts by trying to strangle a school teacher, the Supreme Court has heard.
In tragic irony, it was another school teacher – 26-year-old Leeton High School drama and English teacher Stephanie Scott – who fell victim to 24-year-old Stanford’s pent-up rage when he punched her unconscious, sexually assaulted her and stabbed her in the neck in a store room at the school on April 5 last year, six days before she was to be married.
Details of Stanford’s mental health were revealed in psychological reports tendered to the court during sentencing submissions before Justice Robert Hulme in Griffith on Tuesday.
Crown Prosecutor Lee Carr urged Justice Hulme to jail Stanford for the rest of his life and said there was no evidence of remorse by Stanford.
“This was a cold-blooded, merciless, sexually-motivated killing,” Mr Carr said.
Stanford’s lawyer, Janet Manuell, said there were four factors that militated against a life sentence, including a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder that had a causal connection to the killing.
“These were terrible crimes and there is no attempt to resile from that,” Ms Manuell said.
Ms Manuell said Stanford’s self-loathing manifested itself in rage and anger.
“Mostly directed towards himself, but occasionally towards others,” Ms Manuell said.
“There is evidence, your honour, that he can learn self control.”
Justice Hulme will sentence Stanford at 9.30am on Thursday.