VINCENT Stanford will no longer be a threat to innocent people after being jailed for the rest of his life for the rape and murder of Leeton High School teacher Stephanie Scott.
A collective sigh of relief filled a packed Griffith courtroom when Justice Robert Hulme on Thursday delivered the sentence being demanded by the community.
“I am satisfied beyond any doubt that the offender’s culpability is so extreme that the community interest in retribution, punishment, community protection and deterrence can be met with only one response,” Justice Hulme said.
Unless Stanford successfully appeals against his sentence, he can expect to spend the next 58 years in jail if he lives to the average life expectancy of an Australian male.
Stanford was a casual cleaner at Leeton High on Easter Sunday, April 5, last year when he stalked Miss Scott after she went to the school to prepare lesson plans for another teacher who was to fill in for Miss Scott while she was on her honeymoon with Aaron Leeson-Woolley following their wedding set down for April 11.
Stanford stalked Miss Scott all morning and then went home to retrieve his “rape kit” before going back to the school where he dragged Miss Scott into a store room, punched her in the head 30 or 40 times and sexually assaulted her as she lay dying.
He then stabbed her in the neck, bundled her body into the boot of her car and took her remains to Cocoparra National Park where he doused them in petrol and set them alight.
Justice Hulme said he was satisfied this was a case of murder that clearly fell within the worst category.
He revealed Stanford had stalked three other females in Leeton, including a 12-year-old girl, before making Ms Scott the target of his emotionless compulsion to kill. Police discovered Stanford had video footage of the girl and 1805 still images.
He also kept a record of her movements and her family’s movements in an exercise book.
“There can be no question that the offender is a very disturbed individual,” Justice Hulme said.
Stanford sat in the dock with his head bowed for most of the hour-long sentencing. He showed no emotion when his fate was delivered.
Miss Scott’s mother, Merrilyn, spoke outside the court with her husband Robert beside her and Miss Scott’s fiance, Mr Leeson-Woolley, behind.
“Stephanie would want us to resume our lives,” Mrs Scott said.
“We need to to be kind to ourselves and let the music and fun back in. We need to be able to fade from public view to mourn our beautiful girl.”