It’s impossible to comprehend the grief and anger of all the people who knew and loved Stephanie Scott.
She was a 26-year-old Leeton High school teacher simply going above and beyond for her English and Drama students on an Easter Sunday in April 2015.
In six days she was to be married. After that was her honeymoon in Tahiti, and she wanted to make sure the relief teacher had everything they needed before she embarked on a new life with her high school sweetheart.
Then Vincent Stanford, the school cleaner, attacked Stephanie and dragged her into a storeroom, punching her up to 40 times, finally stabbing her “to make sure she was dead.”
Stanford had searched "bride rape" among other vile phrases online. Stephanie's DNA was found on handcuffs in Stanford's home. Stanford, now 25, had wanted to kill someone since he was about seven years old. There are many more pieces of evidence that convincingly led Justice Robert Allan Hulme to determine Stanford will die in jail. He sentenced him to life, saying his crime was heinous, sinister and remorseless.
What will we remember of Stephanie? The shocking details. The cold, calculating, premeditated nature of the killer. The sick Google searches and the details of the lubricant and the murder and rape and we will imagine the fear and pain of Stephanie on that Easter Sunday. For so many of us, Stephanie Scott is a sexual assault and murder victim. All we see are her final moments.
For the people she loved and loved her back there is, obviously, so much more to this daughter, sister, fiance, aunty, granddaughter, godmother, friend, teacher, joker, traveller, baker of cakes, giver. The list goes on. And heartbreakingly on. Because Stephanie was a good, kind, smart, loving woman who lived and loved and laughed for 26 years.
Stanford took her life. But hopefully he cannot take the memory of her whole life too.
There are too many women who are victims of violence. Too many women who will be remembered for their death and not their life.
As Stephanie's mum Merrilyn Scott wrote in her victim impact statement:
"Leeton could not be defined by this tragedy, just as Stephanie’s life could not be defined by the terrible manner of her death."
There is so much more to Stephanie Scott than her final moments. We can't let Stanford take any more than he has.
Merrilyn Scott also said in a letter no mother should ever have to sit down and write:
[Stephanie] abhorred cruelty of any kind, but particularly to children and animals.
Stephanie was many things to many people. She was a daughter, a sister, fiancée, a soul mate, a granddaughter, a niece, an aunt, a godmother and a friend.
She was quick witted and insightful, gentle, kind, generous, wise beyond her years, sensitive, considerate, compassionate, energetic, inspiring, creative, encouraging, courageous, loud, inclusive, perceptive, organised, empathetic, good, honest, trustworthy, reliable, sensible, silly, outrageous, capable, determined, patient, fun, disciplined, focussed, elegant, eloquent, athletic, happy and at times a little irreverent, and could laugh at herself.
She was a mentor, a role model, a confidante, a communicator, and a passionate educator. She was the conduit through which many young people found courage.
She represented all that was good about human kind.
Stephanie Scott was so much more than Vincent Stanford's victim.
Most of us are good people. We are allowed to remember the good.
And lock away the bad.