Consistent Uncertainties

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Young Girl Held Captive

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LaFortune was starved and burned and had parts of his tongue and lips cut off before being dumped at a hospital in Regina on April 16

Details are now emerging from court documents in the gruesome case involving allegations of forcible confinement and assault. A girl under the age of 18 was held against her will at the same time as Dustin LaFortune.

LaFortune was starved and burned and had parts of his tongue and lips cut off before being dumped at a hospital in Regina on April 16.

He weighed just 87 pounds, down from his usual weight of 245. His family has said that in addition to extensive physical injuries, he suffered brain trauma and amnesia.

He was reported missed in Calgary on April 12 and had moved to the city from Winnipeg two years ago to work for a moving company owned by Dustin Paxton, 30, who is charged in the case. LaFortune, 26, lived and worked with Paxton, his business partner, in both Calgary and Regina.

Paxton made a brief court appearance via teleconference in Calgary Friday and stood quietly with his hands behind his back. Much different demeanour for the former Calgary resident who in earlier reports was extremely agitated and angry in his first appearance one week ago.

A judge ordered a 30-day psychiatric assessment. He is to return to court Oct. 1.

Paxton is also facing forcible confinement and aggravated assault charges involving an underage girl.

A court document says the girl was held between Jan. 30, 2009 and Mar. 15, 2009, in Calgary. The charges involving LaFortune occurred between December 2008 and March 2010.

Paxton was arrested in Edmonton last week after living under an assumed name.

“In cases like this where the assessment comes into play in terms of assessing fitness at the beginning — sometimes I think there are some issues in cases with these unusual fact situations,” said his lawyer Jim Lutz.

“We’d like to see if there’s anything to look at this point that may dictate what we do with the file later on, so yes it’s quite standard,” he added.

Lutz said his client is a “little concerned about the allegations” but is reassured that he has legal representation.

He acknowledges a case with this level of publicity does present some challenges.

“Sometimes with the facts being as unusual as they are we always say you can’t write this stuff and it’s very strange. We only know the first part of the case,” Lutz said.

“It’s going to be complicated because I think a lot of people are going to come to conclusions very quickly when you hear some of the original allegations, so I hope that’s not the case and I hope that in time we’ll see what the full extent of disclosure reveals for us,” he said.

“He seems much more reassured than he was the last couple of times he’s appeared in court, and I think he’s wrapping his head around what the allegations are now.”

Crown Prosecutor Joe Mercier said the psychiatric examination for Paxton is nothing out of the ordinary.

“In a situation like this it’s pretty routine,” he said.

LaFortune is now in Victoria recuperating with his family.


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