NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — A Dutch man accused of tormenting British Columbia teen Amanda Todd via online threats has been found guilty of all charges he faced in connection with the case, a jury ruled on Saturday.
Aydin Coban was accused of extortion, harassment, communication with a young person to commit a sexual offence and possession and distribution of child pornography. The jury presiding over his trial in the B.C. Supreme Court handed down its unanimous verdict one day after deliberations got underway.
Todd was 15 when she died by suicide in 2012 after posting a video that described being tormented by an online harasser.
The harrowing account, seen by millions of viewers since her death, saw her using flash cards to describe the torment from her anonymous cyberbully. Her plea and subsequent death shone a light on the issue of online harassment and cyberbullying.
At the start of the trial in June, Coban pleaded not guilty to all charges he faced. He was not charged in relation to Todd’s death.
Crown lawyer Louise Kenworthy told the jury in closing arguments that two hard drives seized from the Dutch man’s home had connections to Amanda Todd, including a deleted bookmark to child pornography depicting the girl.
At the beginning of the trial she said Todd had been the victim of a persistent campaign of online “sextortion” over three years before her death.
An RCMP officer testified he found “actual fragments of chat” between Todd and several of the online aliases used to harass her on a device seized from Coban’s home.
After piecing together the evidence in closing arguments, Kenworthy said the only inference the jury could draw was that Coban was guilty.
His defence didn’t call any witnesses in the case and his lawyer Joseph Saulnier told the jury in closing arguments that fragments of data cited by police at the trial could not link Coban to the extortion or harassment of Todd.
A Dutch court approved Coban’s extradition to Canada after his trial there on similar allegations.
Coban was sentenced to almost 11 years in prison after a trial in Amsterdam in 2017 for cyberbullying dozens of young girls and gay men.
He was convicted of fraud and internet blackmail and given the maximum sentence of 10 years and eight months, for what Dutch legal authorities said was “the devastating consequences of his behaviour” on the lives of his victims.
That court heard that Coban pretended to be a boy or girl and persuaded his victims to perform sexual acts in front of a webcam, then posted the images online or blackmailed them by threatening to do so. He was accused of abusing 34 girls and five gay men, behaviour the court called “astonishing.” In some cases, the abuse lasted years.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 6, 2022.
— With files from The Associated Press
Hina Alam, The Canadian Press