Fiance of murdered teacher finds love again
The bereaved fiance of murdered schoolteacher Stephanie Scott is finally set to get his 'happily ever after'.
Five years after his bride-to-be was slain by a deranged school cleaner just days before their country NSW wedding, Aaron Leeson-Woolley now has a reason to smile again as he celebrates his engagement to fellow Leeton local Samantha Cirillo.
The announcement of the couple's plans to wed, posted on Facebook alongside a beaming photo, was greeted by a flurry of gushing comments from friends and family.
"Awesome news. I could not be happier for you both. Congratulations," wrote one Facebook user.
"Congratulations guys so glad to see you happy," wrote another.
Ms Cirillo said wedding details, for which the engagement was announced in October, were private.
"The Scott family do not want to speak with the media so I'll have to respect their wishes," she said.
Mr Leeson-Woolley's second chance at love is welcome news for the tight-knit rural community which was devastated by the shocking murder of their beloved schoolteacher on Easter Sunday 2015 which made national headlines.
An English and drama teacher, Ms Scott, 26, was at Leeton High School over the weekend to prepare lessons ahead of her wedding and honeymoon, when Vincent Stanford attacked her from behind, raping her in a storeroom before stabbing her to death.
He dumped her body at Cocoparra National Park, 70km from Leeton, setting the body on fire, her remains not found until April 10 the day before she was to wed.
Stanford was sentenced to life for murder and 15 years for rape. His identical twin brother, South Australian man Marcus Stanford was sentenced to a 15-month jail term for being an accessory after the fact for selling Ms Scott's engagement ring and a graduation ring her mother had given her which his brother had given him.
Monique Patterson, local editor of local Leeton newspaper The Irrigator and Griffith's Area News, who covered much of Vincent Stanford's trial said she believed he would have killed again.
"There's no doubt in my mind, he was so callous, so remorseless and even when we saw him via video link in court he just seemed so unaffected by it all," she said.
Ms Patterson said five years on she felt compelled to write a book about the murder, United in Grief.
"The main reason I wanted to write the book was because I have not been able to stop thinking about Stephanie Scott since it happened," she said.
"I have been a journalist for over 15 years but I have never seen someone touch the lives of so many people whether she knew someone for five minutes or all her life, everyone just said she was one of those people you never forgot."
She said Leeton lost its innocence and one of its brightest that day five years ago.
"It was still a country town, I knew people who didn't lock doors, felt safe walking around at night on their own because it was that sort of town where you think it won't happen here and then it did and it's something that people there won't ever forget … the town has changed forever," she said.
Originally published as Fiance of murdered teacher finds love again