The man sentenced to life in prison for the murder of eight-year-old Ontario girl Tori Stafford is appealing his conviction.

Michael Rafferty filed the appeal on July 26, claiming the judge failed to properly instruct the jury.

Rafferty, 31, was convicted in May of first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping, three years after Tori’s body was found in a rural area under a pile of rocks.

Superior Court Justice Thomas Heeney called Rafferty a "monster" as he sentenced him to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Tori, a Woodstock, Ont., Grade 3 student, went missing in April 2009 as she walked home from school. Her disappearance and murder gripped the small community and generated a Canada-wide interest in Rafferty’s trial.

Rafferty’s former girlfriend, Terri-Lynne McClintic, testified that she and Rafferty snatched Tori as she left school and took her to a rural area near Mount Forest, Ont.

McClintic, who had already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, told the court that Rafferty sexually assaulted Tori but that she was the one who killed the little girl with a hammer.

Throughout Rafferty’s trial, defence lawyers maintained that McClintic duped their client into kidnapping Tori to resolve a drug debt. Rafferty did not take the stand in his defence.

The Crown argued that Rafferty and McClintic planned and carried out the crime together.