STEPHEN Barker has lodged an appeal against the life sentence he was given for raping a two-year-old girl.

The 33-year-old year former partner of Baby Peter Connelly's mother Tracey Conelly was jailed for a minimum of ten years, indeterminately, after being found guilty of the rape earlier this year.

His lawyers are now seeking permission for a review of the rape verdict at the Court of Appeal.

They are expected to argue that the victim, now aged 4, was an unreliable witness.

The case was being heard by Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, and two other judges yesterday.

When she took the stand at the Old Bailey in May via video-link, she became the youngest person to give evidence in a criminal trial.

Hearing her evidence was a painstaking process, filled with silence and mumbled replies, which infuriated Barker's QC Bernard Richmond who made several applications to have her evidence dismissed.

Jurors also watched a video interview, recorded when she was just 3-years-old, in which she told officers how Barker had "hurt her".

But they had to be handed a written transcript to be able to fully understand what she was saying.

Barker, who grew up on the Ferry Lane Estate, in Tottenham Hale, was additionally sentenced for 12 years for causing the death of the 17-month-old toddler.

The court heard that Barker began abusing the two-year-old who, like Baby Peter, was on Haringey Council's at-risk register in February 2007.

Her ordeal only ended when Barker was arrested following Peter's death in August 2007.