Mike Baird slams Marcus Stanford’s sentence over Stephanie Scott murder

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NSW Premier Mike Baird has slammed the sentence handed down to the man who admitted he helped cover up the murder of teacher Stephanie Scott.

Marcus Stanford, 25, sold the popular 26-year-old’s engagement and graduation rings after his twin brother Vincent raped and killed her on April 5 last year, a court was told yesterday.

Mr Stanford was today convicted and sentenced to one year and three months in jail, meaning he will be eligible for release on September 9 considering time already served.

The premier said sentences must reflect community expectations.

“The most horrendous crime deserves the most appropriate punishment,” Mr Baird said in a press conference today.

“On the evidence I’ve seen, it doesn’t seem appropriate. The Attorney-General is considering every possible avenue available to her.

“When there is a crime such as this, we need the appropriate justice, and certainly on what has been presented, that doesn’t seem the case for me.”

Justice Robert Allan Hulme told the court Mr Stanford’s act in disposing of the rings was “utterly appalling, disgraceful and inexcusable”.

“It was the act of a man who put morality and human decency secondary to the interests of his murderous brother.”

According to crown facts, school cleaner Vincent Stanford attacked Ms Scott at the Leeton High School in the NSW Riverina region on Easter Sunday, less than a week before she was due to be married.

While Ms Scott was ensuring lessons were in place ahead of her honeymoon, Vincent Stanford obtained a “rape kit” from his home.

He dragged the young teacher into a store room, sexually assaulting her and stabbing her in the neck with a large knife.

The killer later drove Ms Scott’s car to a national park and placed tree branches over her naked body, pouring petrol onto them and setting her alight.

He exchanged numerous SMS messages with his brother in South Australia, and posted Ms Scott’s rings and driver’s licence to him.

“I can only proceed on the basis that he knew Ms Scott had been abducted and murdered but not how, why or in what circumstances,” Justice Hulme told the court in Leeton today.

The judge went on to say the acts of Mr Stanford had little impact on the investigation and prosecution of his brother, as he had already been arrested when the rings were sold.

“The offender’s motivation was, to use his term, misguided loyalty to his brother,” the judge said.

The rings, sold at an Adelaide jewellery store for $705, had become trophies, Ms Scott’s mother Merrilyn told the NSW Supreme Court yesterday.

“The vision of them being removed from Stephanie’s gentle, loving hands sickens us and fills us with despair,” she read from a victim impact statement.

Acknowledging Merrilyn Scott’s statement, Justice Hulme said “the horror of what confronted [Ms Scott’s] family, friends and particularly her fiancé Aaron at Easter last year and their enduring sense of loss, grief and despair is, as I observed, beyond comprehension.

“It is with regret that all I can offer is my most sincere sympathy.”

Marcus Stanford admitted being an accessory after the fact of murder.

Vincent Stanford has admitted murdering and raping Ms Scott and faces a sentence hearing in October.

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