The murder of Stephanie Scott demands action from authorities

Sadly, nothing can bring back Stephanie Scott.

This week’s life sentence of Vincent Stanford for his brutal and callous act may ease some of the pain and bring a small amount of closure for family and loved ones, but it can never mask the horror of a beautiful person taken far too soon.

The Leeton High School teacher was a favourite in the community, a respected and loved person who had dedicated her young life to helping others.

As Justice Robert Hulme noted in handing down the sentence, the attack involved extreme brutality upon a defenceless woman.

And while the tragic circumstances surrounding this sickening act will remain with the family and wider community forever, lessons must be learnt.

In her victim impact statement presented to the court, Stephanie’s mother Merrilyn Scott highlighted the fact that Stanford had been able to carry out this act only because of loopholes in the system – loopholes which need to be closed.

“This despicable person had access to six schools, TAFE and Essential Energy. Within less than a week had begun flouting rules, and was not challenged. There were many behaviours that should have raised red flags; his behaviour in the community was also anti-social at best.”

Mrs Scott noted that Stanford should not have even been at the school on the weekend he took Stephanie’s life, ...”but such was his arrogance that he did as he pleased”.

Justice Hulme also identified that fact that the offender wasted little time in acting “outside the terms of his employment”, somehow obtaining access codes to the alarm systems despite the school having a policy of not providing them to to casual employees.

None of this is to suggest that something terrible would not have still happened – given Stanford’s actions and background it almost certainly would have.

But as there will be no official recommendations from the sentencing of Stanford, authorities should take note of the observations from Mrs Scott and others associated with the case.

Mrs Scott’s final paragraph of her victim impact statement truly captures the pain Stanford has caused.

“There will be no end for us,”she wrote.

"We had a truly amazing girl who was a constant source of pride and joy. Now we have to learn to live with the void that losing her has left. Such a tragic waste, and a precious life unfulfilled."

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