CALGARY – Alberta's top court has upheld the conviction of a man who tortured and starved his roommate and business partner before dropping him off near death at a hospital.
The three-member Alberta Court of Appeal rejected Dustin Paxton's challenge of his convictions in 2012 for aggravated and sexual assault.
Court heard that Paxton humiliated, starved, beat and sexually assaulted his roommate over 18 months while they lived together in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The victim was dropped off near death at a Regina hospital in 2010.
The man, who cannot be identified, testified during Paxton's trial in Calgary that he suffered a traumatic brain injury from the abuse and can no longer hold a job.
Dustin Paxton was convicted in 2012 for aggravated and sexual assault. (Photo: Handout)
He said he has trouble with his balance, can't swallow properly and has to drink through a straw. The man lost some of his lip during the prolonged ordeal, had his ribs broken and sustained a ruptured bowel.
Paxton's trial heard how the smallest things such as leftovers in the fridge would provoke an attack. The victim testified that he took the abuse because he didn't want to look like "a sissy'' and had dreams of making big money in a moving business he and Paxton had started.
"There was no evidence to suggest anything upon which Paxton could base a reasonable and honestly thought-through belief that (the victim) was consenting to sexual contact with him in these circumstances,'' reads the judgment released Wednesday.
After Paxton's trial, Justice Sheilah Martin of Court of Queen's Bench also ruled that he was a dangerous offender. She said he showed indifference to his crimes, was a high risk to violently reoffend and should be jailed indefinitely.
"Paxton created an atmosphere where (the victim) was required to provide total obedience through physical and psychological control of this vulnerable person."
The Appeal Court rejected arguments from Paxton's lawyers, who said the trial judge made errors, showed bias and shouldn't have excluded a defence expert who found the victim's testimony unreliable. They also questioned the victim's memory about events that had happened years before.
"It is hard to imagine a situation more compelling than the one found to exist by the trial judge, of regular beatings inflicting serious bodily harm on (the victim), to support his evidence that he feared being beaten by Paxton if he did not comply with his sexual expectations,'' said the judges.
"The evidence supports this fear, even if threats were conveyed by gesture rather than orally, and even though (the victim) could not convey exactly what those gestures were, (the victim's) fear of Paxton was more than reasonable.''
Victim's reactions understandable
The judges also wrote that the victim's reactions were understandable, given the "atmosphere of ongoing oppression in which he lived.''
"Paxton created an atmosphere where (the victim) was required to provide total obedience through physical and psychological control of this vulnerable person.''
Paxton, 36, is also appealing his designation as a dangerous offender and his indeterminate sentence.