Canada

Rafferty claimed he was going to help look for Tori

A woman testified Tuesday that she sold Michael Thomas Rafferty drugs on the afternoon Ontario schoolgirl Victoria (Tori) Stafford disappeared, and he told her a few days later he was going to look for the missing eight-year-old.

Accused killer told drug dealer Percocet pills were for his mother

Michael Rafferty is transported from the courthouse in the back of a police cruiser in London, Ont., earlier this month. Rafferty is being tried for murder in the death of eight-year-old Victoria Stafford. (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)

A woman testified Tuesday that she sold Michael Thomas Rafferty drugs on the afternoon Ontario schoolgirl Victoria (Tori) Stafford disappeared, and he told her a few days later he was going to look for the missing eight-year-old.

Rafferty, 31, has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder, sexual assault and abduction of the Grade 3 student, who went missing from her Woodstock, Ont., school in April 2009.

Testifying in court in London, Ont., Barbara Armstrong, 44, said she met Rafferty six years ago and considered him a confidant. She said the two had worked together for a time and dated for several months.

Armstrong told the court that when she arrived at her Guelph, Ont., residence about 4:30 p.m. on April 8, 2009, she saw Rafferty parked in his blue Honda Civic.

He entered her home and she sold him Percocets, an arrangement Armstrong said had been going on for about a year. She said that Rafferty had told her the drugs were for his sick mother and that he would purchase the pills a couple times a month.

Under cross-examination, Armstrong testified Rafferty did not appear to be in a hurry and the two chatted amicably before he left. She said a dark-haired woman she did not recognize sat in the car for the duration of Rafferty’s 10-minute visit.

The Crown contends that Tori was waiting in the car with Terri-Lynne McClintic — who pleaded guilty in 2010 to the girl's murder — and that Rafferty bought the drugs before driving to a Home Depot and ultimately the rural area where the schoolgirl’s body was found.

Rafferty appeared ‘super stressed’

Armstrong said that when she met with Rafferty again several days later, he appeared "haggard." She also said he had a cold sore, an indication he was "super stressed."

"He said that he hadn’t been eating, he hadn’t been sleeping," she said.

Rafferty discussed Tori's disappearance with her and said he was going to help look for the girl.

Armstrong also testified Rafferty told her he had seen the surveillance video and recognized the woman in the video, though she had since been arrested. He mentioned he had heard Tori's mother owed drug money.

On Tuesday, the court also heard from OPP Sgt. Dave Vittie, who obtained surveillance evidence from the Home Depot in Guelph and a nearby gas station.

McClintic has testified Rafferty stopped at a Petro-Canada station to withdraw cash before she entered the Home Depot to purchase garbage bags and a hammer, the weapon she says she used to kill Tori.

Vittie presented Rafferty’s banking records, which showed he withdrew $80 at 5:03 p.m. on April 8, 2009, from the gas station.

The Crown then played a surveillance video, which has been shown to the jury before and depicts McClintic exiting a dark vehicle and entering the store. She returns seven minutes later and enters the vehicle as it pulls away.

On Tuesday, the jury was also shown an orange and grey Wavex hammer, which was identical to the one purchased by McClintic, which Vittie obtained on May 20, 2009.

Jury to visit location of remains

The court heard from Const. Gary Scoyne, a forensic identification officer with the OPP, who will testify a number of times throughout the trial.

He presented a series of photographs which laid out in detail for the jury the alleged activities of Rafferty and McClintic as they moved from the gas station to the Home Depot.

Tuesday's testimony marked an abrupt shift from the previous two weeks, which focused largely on McClintic, including her version of what happened that day and evidence of her violent past.

During the Crown's opening statement, one of the prosecutors laid out a series of so-called chapters, which deal with specific aspects of Tori's disappearance and death.

Scoyne's testimony completed the Guelph chapter, prosecutor Michael Carnegie said Tuesday.

Next, the jury is expected to hear about Mount Forest, the rural area north of Guelph where Tori's body was found.

Part of that chapter is expected to include testimony from OPP Det. Sgt. Jim Smyth, who discovered the remains of the eight-year-old three months after she disappeared. The jury will also visit the site.

Members of the Stafford family were in the courtroom Tuesday and Tori's father, Rodney Stafford, addressed the media outside the courthouse, as he has done nearly every day, saying he is looking for "justice for Tori."

Rafferty's trial is expected to last several more weeks.

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