WARNING: This article contains details about sexual extortion and may affect those who have experienced it or know someone who has been affected by it.
Dutch Aydin Coban has been convicted of racketeering, two charges of possession of child pornography, child detention and criminal harassment against Amanda Todd, the teen from BC whose story spread around the world after she died by suicide nearly a decade ago.
A jury delivered the verdict in the Supreme Court in New Westminster, BC, after one day of deliberation.
Todd’s mother, Carol Todd, sat in the back row of the public gallery on Saturday, taking notes. She repositioned herself as Coban returned to the courtroom, within his line of sight.
She reacted violently when every guilty plea was read in court.
Coban, dressed in a navy blue button-down shirt, showed little reaction as the verdict was read.
Their verdict comes after seven weeks of witness testimony in which dozens of witnesses, exhibits and evidence were submitted by prosecutors ahead of the opening of closing arguments.
Coban’s lawyer did not adduce evidence during the trial.
On Friday, BC Supreme Court Justice Martha Devlin spent all day instructing the jury that they could find Coban guilty of the charges against him only if the Crown proved her case beyond a reasonable doubt. Otherwise, she said, they must acquit him.
Over the course of several hours, Devlin reviewed testimony and evidence presented to the jurors during the long and complex trial. She guided the jurors through the definition of each criminal count sworn against Coban and explained to them the criteria the Crown had to meet in order to be convicted.
Todd died by suicide on October 10, 2012, at the age of 15, after being exploited online over a three-year period. Before she died, she told her story in a nine-minute video on YouTube.
The video spread around the world after her death, with 14.8 million views in August.
Coban, 44, pleaded not guilty to five criminal charges related to Todd’s case, including racketeering, possession of child pornography and luring children. He was not charged with Todd’s death.
Crown attorney Louise Kenworthy closed down her argument earlier last week, saying there was a “treasure of information” linking Coban to Todd’s harassment and extortion.
Earlier in the trial, a Dutch officer testified that a deleted video file called “AmandaTodd.wmv” was played on one of the devices in December 2010, corresponding to a time when Todd was actively harassed.
But Coban’s defense argued that sharing a link is “not child pornography.”
The video was sent as a link, but there was nothing to show that it was stored as data on the seized devices, Joseph Saulnier told the jury on the second day of his closing argument.
The attorney also disputed the Crown’s claims that Coban was the one behind 22 online accounts harassing and extorting Todd.
Earlier in the trial, the jury heard from a BC RCMP officer who had investigated Todd’s 2011 harassment allegations. He said Todd wanted the intimidating messages she was receiving to stop.
Todd’s parents went to the police when the messages to their daughter continued, even after she changed schools.
Todd’s mother, Carol, attended Coban’s trial every day and sat in the back of the courtroom, a few yards from the prisoner’s jail. The suspect sat with his back to her.