A moment of silence for much-loved Stephanie Scott

A waning moon bore silent witness to the recovery of Stephanie Scott’s body in April last year.

In the early hours of Saturday, April 11, last year, under State Emergency Service floodlights, the burnt and broken body of an innocent woman was retrieved from a farmer’s paddock next to Cocoparra National Park.

Eighteen months on, it’s still hard to reconcile how an innocent young bride-to-be could meet such a gruesome end.

According to the people who knew her, both family and friends, Steph’s only fault was she was perhaps too friendly and too happy. 

On the anniversary of her death, Steph’s father Robert described his daughter as an absolute joy, a vivacious and genuine girl who enjoyed being part of the community.

It’s in stark contrast to the picture of her killer that has now emerged.

Vincent Stanford reportedly fantasised about killing someone when he was as young as seven or eight and by the age of 12 he tried to strangle a school teacher in Holland.

Disturbing details of Stanford’s mental health were presented to the court this week.

A forensic psychologist reported “he does not want to adapt to society and believes he does not have the capacity to do so”.

While Steph’s body laid on a dark storeroom floor, Stanford had a cheese sandwich and a coffee. He drove around Leeton in her car before dumping her remains just a few metres from the road and setting them on fire.

His actions alone indicate a casual disregard for the life Stanford took on Easter Sunday. He even admitted to being emotionless when interviewed by police on the day Steph was found. “I just had to kill her,” Stanford told a detective.

It took mere moments to rob Steph and her fiance of their future together. Moments to take away Robert and Merilyn Scott’s future grandchildren. Moments that are now etched in the hearts of a generation.

Stanford was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday, giving the killer some kind of closure on this dark chapter of his life.

But for the Scott family and for Aaron Leeson-Woolley, they will have to find a way to live with a giant Stephanie-shaped hole in their lives.

The moon is showing the other side of its face tonight and Cocoparra National Park is quiet and still. Perhaps it’s time we too take a moment of silence for Steph.