Dangerous offender who tortured, starved Calgary roommate appealing conviction

CALGARY - Lawyers for an Alberta man who was declared a dangerous offender for torturing his roommate appealed his conviction before the province's top court Wednesday.

Dustin Paxton, now 36, was convicted in 2012 of aggravated and sexual assault.

Court heard that Paxton humiliated, starved, beat and sexually assaulted his roommate over 18 months while they lived together in both Alberta and Saskatchewan. The victim was dropped off near death at a Regina hospital in 2010.

The man, who cannot be identified, testified during the trial in Calgary that he suffered a traumatic brain injury from the abuse and can no longer hold a job.

Justice Sheilah Martin of Court of Queen's Bench ruled that Paxton, showing indifference to his crimes, was a high-risk to reoffend violent should be jailed indefinitely.

Paxton's lawyers told the Alberta Court of Appeal that the trial judge made errors, showed bias and shouldn't have excluded a defence expert who found the victim's testimony unreliable.

"The judge made a finding based on the perceptions of the complainant," said Alias Sanders.

"Here, the conviction and the finding of what he did is based on the perception of the complainant who ... has difficulty articulating what happened. What's lacking in this case is evidence from the complainant of acts and gestures of what leads to the sexual conduct."

One of the three Appeal Court judges, Justice Bruce McDonald, questioned the defence's argument.

"It doesn't surprise me he suppressed these very degrading events," McDonald said.

"I don't find it all that strange that someone, particularly someone who suffered this brain injury, would be vague on those details."

The Crown asked the justices to dismiss the appeal.

Crown prosecutor Jolaine Antonio told the Appeal Court that if the reasons handed down by the trial judge were insufficient, then "every trial judge in Alberta might as well give up."

She also said the Justice Martin did a "superhuman" job.

In its written argument, the Crown also said that Martin found that the victim's memories diminished over time due to his health and she did not act on the weaker points of his testimony.

The Appeal Court reserved its decision.

If the convictions are upheld, the defence is to proceed with an appeal of Paxton's sentence.

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