03/24/2013 12:00 EDT | Updated 05/24/2013 05:12 EDT

Ontario couple who tortured disabled man asks for lighter sentences

TORONTO - An Ontario couple who held a developmentally disabled man captive and tortured him while draining his bank account to buy drugs and video game equipment is asking for lighter sentences.

WARNING: Graphic details from this court case may disturb some readers.

Dakota Thompson and Stanley Brown were part of a group convicted of aggravated assault and forcible confinement for inflicting horrific injuries on a 23-year-old disabled man over more than two weeks in 2009.

The victim went to the Hamilton apartment where three people in the group lived, thinking they were going to help him look for a missing cellphone.

Instead, the group of people — Thompson, Brown, their roommate and a youth — confined him there for 17 days, burned him with a hair straightener, made him eat feces and drink urine, beat him and poured cayenne pepper into the bath when he tried to wash his wounds.

When the victim was discovered by police he had facial fractures, disfiguring injuries and a gaping head wound. One of the first officers on scene thought he was dead.

Brown was sentenced to 13 years and Thompson was sentenced to 10 years, despite the Crown suggesting sentences about half those lengths.

Thompson, 23, and Brown, 33, are now appealing their sentences, which they argue are too harsh. Lawyers for the couple will make their cases Monday at the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

In documents filed in advance of the hearing, Brown's lawyer argues that in his client's case the Crown and defence filed a joint submission calling for seven years and two months and the judge didn't give any reason for the longer sentence.

Provincial Court Judge Fred Campling handed down the sentence minutes after the Crown finished his submissions, which suggests "a good possibility" Campling had his reasons already prepared beforehand, Brown's lawyer Victor Giourgas writes.

Giourgas also argues the sentence for Brown was not in line with other aggravated assault and forcible confinement cases.

The lawyers note in the appeals that the abusers are not without their own impairments. Brown has Fetal alcohol syndrome, Asperger syndrome and is of borderline intelligence. Thompson had a troubled upbringing and was addicted to Percocet and OxyContin.

Thompson was less involved in inflicting physical violence, the Crown notes, though she was still a "knowing and active participant."

The offenders had "cognitive limitations," the Crown agrees, but were functioning in society at the time of the torture.

The judge did not make an error in sentencing Thompson and Brown, the Crown says in court documents.

"It cannot be said that the sentences are demonstrably unfit, in light of the singularly horrific and egregious nature of the facts of this case," Crown attorney Eric Siebenmorgen writes.

The victim, though developmentally delayed, was able to live on his own with the help of the Ontario Disability Support Program and his family, the Crown says. He met Thompson and Brown's roommate at a centre for at-risk youth.

Over the course of 17 days the victim "suffered repeated degrading and inhumane treatment," the Crown said. The group "terrorized him with threats and even tried to persuade him that they were toughening him up to be a street warrior," Siebenmorgen wrote.

They essentially used him as their "personal automatic teller machine," forcing him to give them his bank card and PIN, the Crown says. His account was completely drained and the group bought marijuana, Xboxes, iPods and video games.