Long before he crossed paths with Leeton High School teacher Stephanie Scott, Vincent Stanford daydreamed of a cold-blooded killing.
A forensic psychology report made after he pleaded guilty to Scott’s rape and murder last year revealed that Stanford, who was born in Tasmania and grew up in Holland, held murderous thoughts from age 7 or 8.
At age 12 in Holland, Stanford, who was one of three boys raised by divorced mother Anneke, committed his first documented act of violence, grabbing his school principal by the throat in an attempt to strangle her.
Diagnosed with autism-spectrum disorder, he was expelled and placed in psychiatric care for “behaviour problems and violent incidents.”
Whatever therapy he received, his fantasies remained. After he returned with his mother and older brother to Australia in 2014, they settled in the NSW town of Leeton, where Stanford worked as a cleaner for a variety of schools and a TAFE.
In the small town he began stalking women, including a friend of Scott’s and a local who worked in a supermarket, whose identity he searched online. He also made apparent plans to kidnap a 12-year-old girl, secretly taking 1,805 photos of her. One entry in an exercise book revealed Stanford was documenting the schoolgirl’s movements: “Home alone, 15.40. Time enough to abduct.”
Though he denies Scott’s murder was premeditated, in the weeks before the killing in 2015 Stanford was conducting chilling searches on the web. In February, he searched “bride rape” and “necro rape.” Among his search phrases the day before the murder: “sharpest knife tips.”
“This is just the way I am arranged,” Stanford told a psychologist this year. “I don’t think there is anything I can do to get [the violent thoughts] away.”
On Oct. 13 Stanford, 26, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for Scott’s rape and murder.
The 26-year-old teacher was killed six days before she was due to marry her childhood sweetheart Aaron Leeson-Woolley.
“She was really supportive, you could talk to her about anything,” Stacey Catlin, who was taught by Scott, told WHO. “She was really excited about the wedding. She was always happy, smiling.”
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