The jury in a B.C. Supreme Court trial of a man charged with harassing and extorting teenager Amanda Todd has now reached a verdict.
It took less than two days to reach a guilty verdict for five charges.
A brief pause for the jury occurred on Saturday afternoon, as there were questions for counsel, who were summoned back into the courtroom.
The jury reached their verdict only two hours after the break.
Aydin Coban, 44, pleaded not guilty to five charges, including possession of child pornography, extortion, criminal harassment and communication with a young person to commit a sexual offence.
The jury found him guilty on all five counts.
Justice Martha Devlin provided instructions to the jury before deliberations began, telling them to take “special care” with the statements given by Amanda Todd before her death.
Devlin said because Todd died in October 2012 and therefore did not testify or face cross-examination by Aydin Coban’s lawyers, the jury needs to be aware of the limitations of evidence given.
Jury members were told to carefully examine the statements Todd gave to her parents, police officers and in her electronic communications when they considered Coban’s verdict.
The trial hinged on the identity of what the Crown has called the “sextortionist” that used 22 online aliases to sexually blackmail Todd over four “episodes” before she took her life in 2012.
The Crown’s theory is built on two propositions: that one person operated all of the accounts, and that the one person is Coban.
However, defence lawyer Joseph Saulnier told the 12-member jury that evidence from the two drives tells a different story.
Facebook records for several of the aliases presented at trial showed the extortionist using operating systems and Internet browsers through 2012 and into late 2013 that were not found on either hard drive, he told the court.
“This is a significant hole in Crown’s theory,” he said. “This is actually evidence of people accessing these Facebook accounts from other devices, from other computers … evidence of other people using these Facebook accounts.”
The trial heard evidence Coban worked as a “computer guy,” who repaired computers and replaced hard drives.
The Crown has argued Coban was the sole owner and operator of the two hard drives, and that while he may have had a job “swapping out hard drives,” it wouldn’t explain their repeated connection to other devices he owned.
“The evidence was not just that Mr. Coban had only swapped out hard drives and that’s all he did… he repaired computers, he was a computer guy,” Saulnier said.
“It does make sense that Mr. Coban, if he’s looking at someone else’s device, he’s going to connect it to something.”
Todd was 15-years-old when she died by suicide in 2012 after posting a video that described being tormented by an online harasser. Since her death, millions of people have watched the video.
Coban was extradited from the Netherlands to Canada in 2020.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sextortion, sexual assault or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.
More to come…
— With files from Canadian Press and Global BC’s Simon Little.
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