Times Colonist

Torture victim put up with beatings to avoid looking ‘like a sissy’

Trial hears from 28-year-old who moved in with family in Victoria to recuperate from severe injuries

- SHERRI ZICKEFOOSE

CALGARY — Dustin Paxton’s alleged victim says he never left the clutches of his tormentor because he had “big dreams” and didn’t want to “be a sissy.”

In a Calgary courtroom, with his stepfather by his side and a white projector screen blocking Paxton from his view, the man who was allegedly beaten, starved and held captive by Paxton started telling his side of the story on the stand Monday.

The scarred man, 28, who cannot be identified because he is an alleged victim of sex assault, is slated to testify for the next three days.

Paxton, 31, is on trial, facing charges of aggravated and sexual assault, and unlawful confinemen­t. The charges were laid after a man was dropped off in 2010 at a Regina hospital in a mutilated and emaciated condition.

Upon his release from hospital, the victim, whose identity is protected by a publicatio­n ban, moved to Victoria to recuperate with family.

Wearing a dark suit and unsteady on his feet because of balance problems, the man described becoming friends with Paxton through mutual friends in Winnipeg and following him to work in Calgary.

In halting speech, the man explained that Paxton hurt him on the first day he arrived. He had backed over a cord with his folding chair, he said.

“Dustin got mad, started hitting me on the head with a steel-toed boot,” he said.

Afterward, he said Paxton apologized for half a day. “I thought maybe I was being a sissy. I forgot about it and forgave him,” he said.

“I had big dreams,” he said, adding he’d left everything in Winnipeg to take advantage of Calgary’s economic boom when he followed Paxton in 2008.

Crown prosecutor Joe Mercier asked why he didn’t leave.

“I could have, but I would have thought of myself as a sissy for giving up like that.”

Despite the beating, the friends were soon sharing a house.

“We were getting along fine, only because I was doing whatever he said.”

“Why did you do that?” asked Mercier.

“I didn’t want to get beat. He was getting more and more violent every single day. … Every day there was an incident.”

At times, Paxton smirked and shook his head from side to side in disagreeme­nt as he listened to the testimony.

The man went on to describe being punched, choked unconsciou­s with his hooded sweatshirt “about 1,000 times,” and being hit variously with a cane, dog leash and extension cord. “I looked like a guy who just got beat up. Always.”

Although he said Paxton would beat him daily for doing things wrong, he said Paxton didn’t talk much or give reasons for the beatings.

“My survival instinct kicked in. I still hung out with Dustin, even though I was getting beaten. … He’d either hit me with a cane or a leash or an extension cord; constantly threw me around,” he said.

“Dustin seemed like such a nice guy to everybody else.”

The man said anything would set Paxton off, including taking leftovers for lunch or buying the wrong brand of bread at the grocery store.

The five-foot, 11-inchtall man said he weighed about 240 pounds in December 2008. He worked as a forklift operator. When he was dropped off at hospital in April 2010, he weighed 87 pounds.

“I was paying all the bills because Dustin wasn’t doing anything,” he said, adding he took a second job, selling door to door.

Soon, the two friends decided to start a moving company, Two Guys and a Truck. Mercier asked why he started a company with Paxton if the two weren’t getting along.

“I had big dreams. … I didn’t want give up on my dreams.”

To ease customer concerns over his badly bruised face, he said he told them, “I was really into boxing. That way I didn’t have to explain I was getting abused by Dustin Paxton.”

“Were you free to leave the house?” Mercier asked.

“Yes, but I didn’t know anybody in Calgary.”

The trial continues.

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