The Crown at a dangerous-offender hearing for convicted torturer Dustin Paxton argued that he is a high risk to reoffend and difficult to treat.
In her final sentencing arguments, Julie Morgan told a Calgary courtroom Tuesday that Mr. Paxton has shown a pattern of violence that stretches back years and is always the same.
“He is unable to control his anger,” she said.
“He gets angry and frustrated over minor discretions. The victims are known to him. He uses threats and physicality … he manipulates, belittles and controls his victims.”
Mr. Paxton, 33, was found guilty in February, 2012, of aggravated and sexual assault against his former business partner and roommate after a man was found dumped at a Regina hospital in 2010 near death – badly emaciated, bruised, broken and bleeding.
The Crown wants Mr. Paxton to be kept in prison for an indeterminate period of time as a dangerous offender, but if the judge wanted to fix a set sentence, it should be in the 15- to 18-year range, Ms. Morgan said.
She noted Mr. Paxton would be eligible for two-for-one credit for his time already in custody.
Mr. Paxton’s lawyer, Jim Lutz, argued that his client shouldn’t be found to be either a dangerous or a long-term offender.
He recommended an eight-year sentence – minus six years of credit Mr. Paxton would receive for time already served.
Mr. Lutz said nothing in his client’s past is comparable to his current crimes, which disputes the Crown’s submission about a pattern of behaviour.
He also suggested that Mr. Paxton is able to change if given the right kind of treatment.
“It would be erroneous to suggest Mr. Paxton could not be treated. The treatment is real. The treatment exists,” said Mr. Lutz.
“He has a reasonable possibility of eventual control.”
Mr. Lutz also argued that Mr. Paxton should receive three-for-one credit for his time behind bars because he had been kept in segregation since his arrest.
If the judge rejects the dangerous offender designation, Mr. Paxton could alternatively be designated a long-term offender with a set prison sentence followed by 10 years of supervision under strict conditions.
Ms. Morgan said Mr. Paxton has exhibited a “substantial degree of indifference” to the welfare of his victims and any treatment of his behaviour will be a slow and difficult process.
“We need to look at his future treatment possibilities. It has to be more than an expression of hope,” she said.
“This offender will likely pose a threat in the future.”
She said Mr. Paxton misled the court in the past by faking symptoms of schizophrenia.
“He faked the symptoms to fool others. He attempted to manipulate the system to avoid repercussions,” Ms. Morgan said. “This offender cannot be trusted at all. He’s going to be a challenge.”
Ms. Morgan said a number of reports all came to the same conclusion. He is “a high risk to reoffend – difficult to treat.”
During the trial, Mr. Paxton’s victim testified that he was starved, humiliated and beaten on an almost-daily basis.
He told court he took the abuse because he didn’t want to look like “a sissy” and had dreams of making big money in the business he and Mr. Paxton started.
“I was in survival mode,” the man testified. “I would do anything not to get beaten.”
He said the attacks would happen over the smallest things, such as leftovers in the fridge.
“I was beat up with a two-by-four that broke every one of my ribs and ruptured my bowel. He probably hit me 25 times. He was hitting me in all different ways. I was standing there and I had to let him hit me.”
The young man is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday and wants to deliver a victim-impact statement.
Ms. Morgan cited a number of aggravating factors including that Mr. Paxton and his main victim were essentially in a relationship and that “sex acts were used as weapons.”
She said she was unable to find any mitigating factors in Mr. Paxton’s favour due to his continued lack of remorse and callousness of the crimes against his victims.
“Words can’t do justice as to what was done to the victim in this case,” she said.