‘Life means life’

Rally de­mands gov­ern­ment in­ter­vene in trans­fer of child killer

Simcoe Reformer - - FRONT PAGE - Stu­art Thom­son

OT­TAWA — About a hun­dred peo­ple crowded the steps in front of the Peace Tower on Par­lia­ment Hill Fri­day chant­ing “Send her back” and “Life means life,” in the hopes of con­vinc­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to trans­fer con­victed mur­derer Terri-lynne Mc­clin­tic out of an In­dige­nous heal­ing lodge and back to a max­i­mum se­cu­rity prison.

Rod­ney Stafford, one of the or­ga­niz­ers of the rally, is the father of eight-year-old Tori Stafford, the Wood­stock girl whom Mc­clin­tic lured to her grisly death nearly ten years ago. He told re­porters Fri­day he’s heard noth­ing from the gov­ern­ment about whether they in­tend to re­verse Mc­clin­tic’s trans­fer and put her back in prison.

“I haven’t re­ceived any in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing any­thing. I know as much as the gen­eral pub­lic does,” he said.

The rally also is planned in Wood­stock on Satur­day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. out­side the Wood­stock court­house. Or­ga­niz­ers are ask­ing that peo­ple wear pur­ple -- Tori’s favourite colour --to show unity and sup­port.

In 2010, Mc­clin­tic pleaded guilty to first-de­gree mur­der, though the full ev­i­dence of her vi­o­lent char­ac­ter sur­faced only dur­ing the 2011 mur­der trial of Michael Raf­ferty, with whom she as­saulted and killed Stafford.

At Raf­ferty’s trial, the jury heard ev­i­dence about Mc­clin­tic’s vi­o­lent fan­tasies and de­sire to kill, maim and tor­ture oth­ers. In 2012, Mc­clin­tic pleaded guilty to as­sault­ing a fel­low in­mate, and in a lt­ter to a friend in­ter­cepted by cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers Mc­clin­tic de­scribed the as­sault, say­ing if she’d had more space she would have done more dam­age.

How­ever, the Lon­don Free Press re­vealed ear­lier this fall that Mc­clin­tic had been trans­ferred to the Oki­maw Ohci Heal­ing Lodge in Saskatchewan, a fa­cil­ity prima- rily for In­dige­nous fe­male of­fend­ers, which of­fers more in­de­pen­dent liv­ing and nicer quar­ters than a prison.

Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale has in­sisted he can­not per­son­ally in­ter­vene in the mat­ter, but last month ordered the com­mis­sioner of the cor­rec­tional ser­vice to con­duct a review of the case, which is on­go­ing.

Con­ser­va­tive jus­tice critic Tony Cle­ment and a num­ber of the party’s other MPS at­tended the the rally, echo­ing the crowd’s chants and urg­ing that Mc­clin­tic be re­turned to a max­i­mum se­cu­rity prison.

“In what world does a fem­i­nist prime min­is­ter stand against an eight-year-old girl and the jus­tice she de­serves?” asked Con­ser­va­tive MP Rachael Harder. “To­day her killer is sit­ting in a fa­cil­ity where she is be­ing treated close to roy­alty.”

The rally opened with a ren­di­tion of O Canada and, as the speak­ers ad­dressed the crowd, peo­ple signed a Cana­dian flag that read “Jus­tice 4 Tori.”

Rod­ney Stafford said he’d hoped for a big­ger turnout Fri­day but that the cold, rainy day in Ot­tawa and the fact that it was a Fri­day morn­ing, when most peo­ple are work­ing, were most likely to blame.

Among those in the crowd was Su­san Gerth of Brant­ford, whose daugh­ter, De­siree Gallagher, died af­ter plung­ing from a sev­enth-floor bal­cony in Lon­don, Ont.

Gallagher had been at the apart­ment of Justin Prim­mer, who was later charged with as­sault caus­ing bod­ily harm af­ter po­lice seized a cell­phone con­tain­ing pho­tographs of Gallagher’s badly beaten face. The cause of the fall was never de­ter­mined, and Prim­mer pleaded guilty to as­sault and was given a six-month ­sen­tence.

But af­ter a slew of fur­ther vi­o­lent crimes, Prim­mer was des­ig­nated a vi­o­lent of­fender last year.

Gerth said she says she’s not op­posed to heal­ing lodges or day pa­role in gen­eral, but that some vi­o­lent of­fend­ers sim­ply shouldn’t qual­ify.

“The vic­tim’s fam­ily and friends have to live with that,” Gerth said.

Gail Kelly, who ac­com­pa­nied Gerth to the rally, said many vio- lent of­fend­ers like Mc­clin­tic are skilled ma­nip­u­la­tors who know how to abuse the sys­tem.

“They know how to push the but­tons,” Kelly said.

“They know how to say what they need to say.”

Tony Cald­well/ Post­media news

A rally on Par­lia­ment Hill on was aimed at get­ting the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to trans­fer con­victed mur­derer Terri-lynne Mc­clin­tic back to a max­i­mum se­cu­rity prison.

Tony Cald­well/ Post­media news

About 100 peo­ple at­tended a Jus­tice for Tori Stafford rally on Par­lia­ment Hill on Fri­day.

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