Jamaican ‘vampire’ pimp to pay $US400k to woman he abused
AN infamous Jamaican pimp nicknamed Dracula will have to pay $US400,000 to a Gold Coast woman he physically abused and forced into prostitution after America's highest court refused to hear his case.
Damion Baston's cruel treatment of women in Australia, the Middle East and the US and odd behaviour, including wearing yellow contact lenses and gold vampire-like fangs, made headlines around the world.
It also repulsed judges and a jury in the US.
The jury of seven women and five men at his 2014 Miami trial found him guilty after just six hours of deliberations on all 21 charges, including sex trafficking and money laundering.
The judge then punished Baston with a 27-year jail sentence and ordered him to pay the Gold Coast woman, known in court as KL, $US78,000.
Baston lodged an appeal and last year a three-judge panel in the District Court in Florida not only confirmed the hefty jail sentence, but bumped up the restitution he must pay to KL to $US400,000.
Bastion's lawyers argued in the Supreme Court that as a non-US citizen the US courts could not compel him to pay restitution to KL for conduct that took place in Australia.
The $US400,000 is the amount of money Baston kept from what KL made from working as a prostitute in Australia.
The powerfully-built Baston, who used steroids, met KL at a nightclub on the Gold Coast when she was 24-years-old and he said he would help with her dream of opening her own restaurant.
Judge William Pryor, at last year's appeal in Florida, detailed how Baston sent KL to have sex with clients throughout Australia at prices he determined, beat her regularly and threatened to hurt her family if she stopped. KL also prostituted for Baston in the United Arab Emirates, Florida and Texas. "One night, Baston suspected that KL was cheating on him," Judge Pryor told the court.
"He woke her up, punched her hard in the pelvis, threw her to the ground and strangled her.
"He heated up kitchen knives over an open flame and threatened to slit her throat." Baston did have one supporter in Monday's failed Supreme Court bid. Justice Clarence Thomas argued the Supreme Court should have taken up Baston's appeal to examine the Foreign Commerce Clause, which grants US Congress authority to "regulate commerce with foreign nations".
Justice Thomas argued the appeals court decision in the Baston case was "startling" and opened the way for Congress to regulate any economic activity anywhere in the world.
"Congress would be able not only to criminalise prostitution in Australia, but also to regulate working conditions in factories in China, pollution from power plants in India, or agricultural methods on farms in France," Justice Thomas wrote.
"I am confident that whatever the correct interpretation of the foreign commerce power may be, it does not confer upon Congress a virtually plenary power over global economic activity."