Murderer Michael Rafferty wants taxpayers to pay for his appeal

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LONDON, Ont. — Four times, child killer Michael Rafferty asked Ontario’s legal aid system for money to appeal his first-degree murder conviction — and four times he was denied.

Now he plans to use a section of the Criminal Code to force the province to pay.

Documents filed with the Ontario Court of Appeal show Rafferty has applied to have the Attorney General of Ontario pay his legal bill or force Legal Aid Ontario to do so.

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

This latest legal move has delayed a hearing scheduled for Nov. 19 to Dec. 2, when the application for funding is to be heard, and has dismayed the family of his victim.

"I really just wish they would get this over and done with," said Tara McDonald, Tori’s mother. "I know it’s only been a year and a half since his trial and this is standard judicial procedure, but how are we supposed to put our lives back together when almost every month we have to see his face plastered all over the place?"

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

Rafferty launched an appeal after his 2012 conviction.

He was denied legal aid in November 2012, and in February, September and October of this year by different levels of Legal Aid Ontario.

He’s now relying on Section 684 of the Criminal Code, which essentially forces the government to hire a lawyer "in the interests of justice," if the accused can’t provide for one himself.

Earlier this year, Toronto lawyer Paul Calarco agreed to help the appeal court examine Rafferty’s chances of using Section 684 and was expected to present his assessment at the November hearing.

Now he is acting for Rafferty on the funding application and will argue in December that Rafferty does qualify under the section. Calarco is also asking the court to extend the appeal period and assign counsel to Rafferty.

Calarco is acting only on this application. He would not comment on the matter Tuesday.

Schoolgirl-killer Paul Bernardo used the same section to get counsel for the unsuccessful appeal of his murder convictions.