Editorial: A moment of silence for Stephanie Scott

As Australia watched on television on Thursday, there were tears, goosebumps and even relief, as a callous and disturbed killer was sentenced to life behind bars for the murder of Stephanie Scott.

Moments later one mother asked for everyone to pause with a cup of tea. It was a simple gesture, but one that meant a whole lot to a grieving family.

Merrilyn Scott, and her family, had their world turned upside down on April 5, last year, when their then-26-year-old daughter was abruptly taken.

It’s hard to comprehend how a woman, someone so young, with everything to live for, could meet such a gruesome end.

Vincent Stanford will never see freedom again for the rape and brutal murder of the Leeton teacher. While many questioned the meaning of life, the law states "the offender must serve the remainder of his/her life in gaol with no prospect of release”. Life means life. And in a prison cell he should remain. For this crime was one of the worst we’ve ever seen.

In handing down the sentence in a Griffith court, Supreme Court Justice Robert Allan Hulme said the facts “make it plain that this case is one of great heinousness".

"I am satisfied that this is a case of murder that clearly falls within the worst category."

The sentence brings to an end a harrowing 18 months for Stephanie’s family. They lost their beloved daughter; a fiancee was devastated with the sudden killing of his bride-to-be; and a community was shattered by the murder of a teacher, friend and a bright spark to many.

As they struggle to rebuild their lives, they asked a nation to come together.

"Stephanie embodies all that is good about humankind – she made an incredible difference to the lives of so many people,” Mrs Scott said outside court.

"Stephanie will want us to resume our lives, we need to be kind to ourselves and let the music and fun back in."

The family asked, on what would have been Stephanie’s 28th birthday on Friday, to celebrate with a cup of tea and a few mint slice biscuits. And so many did. #AcuppaforSteph trended on social media as everyday Aussies, strangers, friends and her tight-knit community, made a cuppa and got a couple of biscuits and sat down, albeit for a moment, to remember a life taken too soon. It was a simple gesture, but it was a moment to remember the woman that was, not what happened to her.


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