The trial of a man accused of killing Victoria Stafford has heard that a route he frequently travelled with an ex-girlfriend took him within a couple of minutes of where the eight-year-old girl was killed.
Tori was killed on April 8, 2009, but her remains went undiscovered for months under rocks in a corner of a remote farmer’s field southeast of Mount Forest, Ont.
The area is more than 100 kilometres from where the Grade 3 student was abducted outside her school in Woodstock, Ont.
Michael Rafferty, 31, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping.
His trial is hearing that at various points in his life Rafferty lived, worked and went to school in the Mount Forest area.
Ex-girlfriend Jennifer Etsell testified that when she dated Rafferty for several months in 2006 she would pick him up in Guelph, Ont., where he was living, and drive him to visit her in Hanover, Ont., on the weekends, taking a route that passed through Mount Forest.
Rafferty said his licence was suspended at the time, Etsell said, and that’s why she picked him up. Under cross-examination she agreed her route stayed on Highway 6 and did not venture onto the rural back roads in the area.
The route from Highway 6 to the field where Tori was killed involved exiting the highway at one side road and turning onto another side road, court has seen.
Rafferty’s defence has suggested that his girlfriend at the time of Tori’s death, Terri-Lynne McClintic, was the “engine” behind the girl’s abduction and murder. McClintic, who is already serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to first-degree murder, has testified that Rafferty urged her to kidnap a girl and that he sexually assaulted Tori.
The Crown has called several witnesses to establish Rafferty’s ties to the Mount Forest area — about a two-hour drive from Woodstock.
The owner of a landscaping company testified that Rafferty worked for him at a landfill site less than five kilometres away from where Tori died.
Rafferty lived in Drayton, Ont., south of Mount Forest, with his aunt and uncle and attended Grades 6 and 7 in the town, a former friend testified Tuesday.
After that he moved to the Toronto area, but would come back to the area for visits on holidays, testified Ann Tweedie.