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Calgary judge deems convicted torturer Dustin Paxton a dangerous offender

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Dustin Paxton is shown in a Calgary Police handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Calgary Police

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Dustin Paxton is shown in a Calgary Police handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Calgary Police

CALGARY - A judge has determined a convicted torturer meets the criteria to be considered a dangerous offender and she has handed him an indeterminate prison sentence.

Dustin Paxton slouched in his seat, shook his head no and smirked as Justice Sheilah Martin delivered her decision in Calgary Court of Queen's Bench.

Martin said the 33-year-old is a high risk to reoffend violently and the sentence is "fit and appropriate" for his brutal conduct.

"I find that Mr. Paxton constitutes a threat to the life, safety or physical or mental well-being of other persons," Martin said. "The protection of the public must figure prominently."

She said the Crown has fully proven Paxton is a dangerous offender who has shown indifference to his crimes.

Martin ruled out a determinate sentence for Paxton.

The National Parole Board will review Paxton's case seven years from the point he was first taken into custody and every two years after that.

"It may be that Mr. Paxton will at some point respond sufficiently to the treatment offered that he can be released from prison," Martin said. "The risk would have to be considered acceptable to the Parole Board."

Paxton was convicted in February 2012 of aggravated and sexual assault for the prolonged and brutal abuse of a man who was his friend and roommate.

The man was dropped off, near death, at a Regina hospital in April 2010. He was emaciated, battered and bleeding.

While the Crown had pushed a dangerous offender designation, Paxton's lawyer had recommended a six- to eight-year sentence — minus six years of credit for time served.

The victim delivered an emotional impact statement, describing his life after the abuse, at Paxton's sentencing arguments in October.

He told court he has post-traumatic stress disorder and brain damage from the 18 months he was humiliated, starved, beaten and sexually assaulted on an almost-daily basis while living with Paxton in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Paxton's trial heard how the smallest things, such as leftovers in the fridge, would provoke him to 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 the business he and Paxton had started.

Speaking slowly from the witness stand at the sentencing hearing, with his two sisters at his side for support, the victim detailed how he has had several surgeries aimed at reconstructing his face. He said there are many more operations in his future.

"Before the assaults, I was extremely good-looking and very attractive to women and now I am disfigured,'' he said. "I have an incurable traumatic brain injury because of the assaults, which I will have for the rest of my life.''

He said he has trouble sleeping, suffers anxiety and is unable to hold a job. He also has trouble with his balance, can't swallow properly and has to drink through a straw because he lost some of his lip during the prolonged ordeal. His ribs were broken and his bowel ruptured.

Crown prosecutor Joe Mercier said Thursday the important thing is the public is now safe.

"Certainly there are no winners here. It was a very difficult case. There are people who are profoundly affected for the rest of their lives," said Mercier. "It's been a long, long haul. There have been a lot of people who have been affected by this particular case. It was hard on a lot of people."

Paxton did not address the court Thursday.

He did speak at the end of his sentencing hearing, but offered no apology.

"I'm working with these experts who are working to make me a better person,'' he said. "I will remain fully committed to a regime of counselling and programming that is essential to my rehabilitation.''

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