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COURT: Convicted in Tori Stafford murder

Michael Rafferty wants the government to pay for a lawyer

By Randy Richmond, The London Free Press

Michael Rafferty.

Michael Rafferty.

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Michael Rafferty’s attempt to appeal his first-degree murder charge has been delayed again.

He was scheduled to appear at the Ontario Court of Appeal next week, but his matter has been put over to Nov. 19, a spokesperson for the court — the highest in the province — said.

Rafferty is serving a life sentence for the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of eight-year-old Victoria (Tori) Stafford in 2009.

Tori was kidnapped while walking home from school and taken to a farmer’s field near Mount Forest where she was sexually assaulted and killed.

Rafferty launched an appeal after his 2012 conviction. He was denied legal aid for the appeal, but may still get taxpayers to foot the bill for a lawyer under Section 684 of the Criminal Code.

That section essentially forces the government to hire a person a lawyer “in the interests of justice,” if the accused can’t provide for one himself.

Toronto lawyer Paul Calarco, not retained by Rafferty, has agreed to help the appeal court examine Rafferty’s chances of using Section 684 and is expected to present his assessment at the next hearing.

That same section was used by schoolgirl killer Paul Bernardo to get counsel for the unsuccessful appeal of his murder convictions.