26-year-old Stephanie Scott was a high-school teacher at Leeton High School in NSW.
She was engaged to her fiancé, Aaron Leeson-Woolley.
They were a few days away from getting married.
But no one could have predicted or even thought of what actually unravelled on Easter Sunday 2015.
On Easter Sunday 2015, Stephanie had some final preparation work to complete for a substitute teacher who was arranged by the school to take over during Stephanie’s planned honeymoon.
Unable to resist, she wanted to ensure that everything was well prepared so that things would go smoothly at school for students and teachers during her absence away during her honeymoon. She decided to go to her school to complete these tasks, on Easter Sunday.
Things started turning from there.
On this day, all calls to Stephanie went unanswered.
After no contact throughout the rest of the day, Aaron contacted family, and eventually police.
Police investigations led them to discover that the last place Stephanie was at was Leeton High School, and the only other person that was last seen at that school was the school cleaner, 24-year-old Vincent Stanford.
Vincent resided with his mum and older brother. He was interviewed by police as part of the investigation.
Police searched the house Vincent lived in, which revealed a set of school keys that matched Stephanie’s.
Police then discovered photographs from Vincent’s camera, depicting images of a burnt human body. His explanation for these photos didn’t make sense, particularly after officers discovered blood stained handcuffs in his bedroom.
On the eve of her otherwise would-be wedding day, police uncovered Stephanie’s Burnt body at the Cocoparra National Park.
Vincent ended up confessing that he murdered her.
Vincent told police, that he attended the school on Easter Sunday where he saw Stephanie. Upon seeing her there, alone, he felt the urge to kill.
Vincent said, that he then left the school to go home to get his ‘rape kit’ before returning back to the school where Stephanie was. The ‘rape kit’ contained amongst other things a knife and handcuffs.
Stephanie bumped into Vincent in a corridor as she was leaving when she said to Vincent, “I’m going home now. Have a happy Easter”.
Opportunistically, Vincent grabbed her and moved her to the storeroom where he said, “I think I went a little nuts”.
He beat her 30 to 40 times before stabbing her neck with the knife he collected from home.
He then told police, that after killing her, he left the school, went home for lunch before returning back to clean up the storeroom.
He pleaded guilty to murder and aggravated sexual assault.
He told the court that he always, since the age of about 8, thought about killing.
In fact, his notebook revealed that he was stalking a 12-year-old girl in Leeton that he intended to abduct.
The Court said, “He calmly went home and had a cheese sandwich and a cup of coffee… He returned to school to clean up the crime scene over several hours and callously loaded Ms Scott’s body into the boot of her car.”
Her body was dumped at the park about 70km away from Leeton before setting it on fire.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
In NSW, Murder carries life imprisonment, reflecting the maximum penalty the Supreme Court can impose for this type of crime, prescribed by section 61 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW).
A Court does not lightly impose this maximum sentence, and only does so if the amount of criminality of the crime is considered extreme enough that only life in jail would be appropriate after considering the purposes of sentencing according to law.
Click here for an outline on the law on murder sentences in NSW.
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