05/15/2012 08:26 EDT | Updated 07/15/2012 05:12 EDT

Tori Stafford's Mom Says She Will Never Forgive Rafferty


Tara McDonald, the mother of slain Grade 3 student Victoria (Tori) Stafford, says she is trying to move forward with her life but is "never going to be able to forgive" the man convicted of killing her daughter.

Michael Rafferty was found guilty Friday of first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping. The 31-year-old was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without chance of parole for 25 years for his crimes against the eight-year-old girl, who vanished outside her Woodstock, Ont., school on April 8, 2009.

"I'm never going to be able to forgive him. It doesn't matter how many years pass," McDonald told CBC's Steven D'Souza.

"It was hard. I really wanted to be able to look at him, so he could feel what it was that I have been feeling," she said.

McDonald said she wasn't able to do that when she was reading her victim impact statement, but said Rafferty looked directly at her when he stood up and addressed the London, Ont., court.

McDonald said she "felt ill" when she made eye contact with Rafferty at Tuesday's sentencing hearing.

"I wanted my pain to be vivid on my face, so that the last thing that he could think about is what he's put us through."

Tori's mother said she didn't believe Rafferty's claim of innocence.

When he spoke in court Tuesday, Rafferty offered to give McDonald "pieces of the puzzle", but he added that anything he had to say would be for her alone, without media or spectators present.

After the sentencing, McDonald said her family has been living without a full understanding of exactly what happened to her daughter for the last three years, adding that it's something she tries not to think about.

"I would like to know the truth, but there's only one person that can tell us that, and she's not here."

McDonald said she was proud of her son Daryn, who wrote an emotional victim impact statement about life without his younger sister.

"He portrayed the way that he was feeling perfectly. He thought of things that I'd been thinking that I hadn't thought of to say, that he managed to get out there, so I'm very, very proud."

McDonald said she has a job waiting for her and a plan to start school in November now that the trial is over.

"I have a plan of action to make Victoria proud – so that people can say 'That's Victoria Stafford's mom', who rose above all the rumours, all the things people have said about her. I want to make Victoria proud, and Daryn proud."

Tori's body was found in a field in Mount Forest, about 100 kilometres north of Woodstock, more than three months after she disappeared.

Terri-Lynne McClintic pleaded guilty two years ago to first-degree murder in connection with the girl's disappearance and death.

"I can't speak for years from now, but when I think about it, I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive them for what they've done – never," McDonald said about the pair.

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