Vincent Stanford has been handed life in prison for the brutal murder of NSW school teacher Stephanie Scott.
In sentencing the 25-year-old this morning, Griffith Supreme Court Justice Robert Allan Hulme described the case as “one of great heinousness” and said he found Stanford’s behaviour after the murder “highly disturbing” and “conniving, callous and self interested.”
“The attack itself involved extreme brutality by a man of substantial size upon a defenceless young woman…who had no means of escape,” he said.
Scott’s family reportedly let out a gasp of relief as the sentence was handed down.
The 25-year-old school cleaner pleaded guilty in July to the aggravated sexual assault and murder of Scott, whom he killed on Easter Sunday, 2015.
The teacher was working overtime preparing lessons for a substitute, when Stanford set upon her in the Leeton High School staffroom, raped her, bashed her and later stabbed her in the neck.
After an intensive police search, Scott’s naked, badly burnt body was eventually found 70km away at Cocoparra National Park on April 10, 2015 – just days before she was due to be married to partner Aaron Leeson-Woolley.
Police later discovered that Stanford had taken depraved photographs of her charred remains.
The court this morning heard Stanford had stalked three other people prior to Scott’s murder, including two adults and a 12-year-old girl of whom he had 1805 images.
The revelation follows several others uncovered throughout the three-day sentencing hearing, including the fact that he made several disturbing internet searches two months prior to the crime. Among them, “bride rape”, “bride kidnapping” and “bride raped with wedding dress”.
We also that Stanford was committed to a mental health facility at the age of 13, after he attempted to strangle a teacher, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
But it was perhaps his confession to Scott’s murder which proved most chilling. In audio of his police interview, which was played to the court, Stanford said he “went a little nuts” when he killed the 26-year-old.
“I don’t know, I just felt like I should do it,” he told investigators. “Just that I had to kill her.”
“I think I needed to see a psychiatrist but I didn’t.”
Stephanie and her fiance Aaron Leeson-Woolley. Image: Facebook.
Stanford's identical twin, Marcus, walked free from prison in September, having served a 15-month sentence for being an accessory to Scott's murder.
The 25-year-old had admitted to selling two of Scott's rings, which his brother had posted to him along with Scott's drivers license.