Tori Stafford's killer seeks public money to fund appeal of murder conviction

TORONTO – A lawyer for the man convicted of killing eight-year-old Victoria Stafford says the trial judge should have told the jury to consider whether Michael Rafferty was just an accessory after the fact.

The argument is part of lawyer Paul Calarco’s attempt to convince the Court of Appeal for Ontario that there is merit to an appeal of Rafferty’s convictions for first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping.

Calarco is representing Rafferty as he asks the Appeal Court to order that the public fund his appeal as he argues it’s too complex for Rafferty to do by himself.

Rafferty has tried four times since his convictions in May 2012 to get Legal Aid to pay for his appeal and each time has been denied.

Appeal Court Justice Marc Rosenberg reserved his decision, but he can either dismiss Rafferty’s motion, request that Legal Aid fund a lawyer or order that the money should come from the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Rafferty had been serving his life sentence at Kingston Penitentiary, but after the notorious prison closed this year, his lawyer says he was moved to an institution in Quebec.

Rafferty’s trial heard that he and his former girlfriend, Terri-Lynne McClintic, lured Tori from her school in Woodstock, Ont., and drove to a secluded field, where the Grade 3 student was sexually assaulted and brutally beaten to death in April 2009.

McClintic is also serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.