Hina Alam, Canadian Press
Published Saturday, August 06, 2022 3:54 PM EDT
Last updated Saturday, August 6, 2022 4:44 PM EDT
NEW WESTMINSTER, BC – A Dutch man accused of harassing British Columbia teen Amanda Todd via online threats has been found guilty of all charges he faced in the case, a jury decided Saturday.
Aydin Coban was charged with extortion, harassment, communicating with a young person to commit a sexual offense and possession and distribution of child pornography. The jury presiding over his trial in the BC Supreme Court delivered its unanimous verdict a day after deliberations began.
Todd was 15 when she committed suicide in 2012 after posting a video describing being tormented by an online bully.
The harrowing account, seen by millions of viewers since her death, saw her use flash cards to describe the torment of her anonymous cyberbullying. Her plea and subsequent death shed 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 Todd’s death.
Crown attorney Louise Kenworthy told the jury in closing arguments that two hard drives seized from the Dutch man’s home had links to Amanda Todd, including a deleted child pornography bookmark depicting the girl.
At the start of the trial, she said Todd had been the victim of a sustained campaign of online “sextortion” over three years before her death.
An RCMP officer testified that 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 summing up the evidence in closing arguments, Kenworthy said the only conclusion the jury could draw was that Coban was guilty.
His defense did not call any witnesses in the case, and his attorney Joseph Saulnier told the jury in closing arguments that fragments of data cited by police during the trial could not link Coban to extortion or harassment by Todd.
A Dutch court approved Coban’s extradition to Canada following his trial there on similar charges.
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 extortion and given the maximum sentence of 10 years and eight months for what Dutch judicial authorities said were “the devastating consequences of his behaviour” on the lives of his victims.
The court heard Coban posed as 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, behavior which the court called “astounding”. In some cases, the abuse lasted for years.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 6, 2022.
– With files from the Associated Press