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Amanda Todd case: Defence seeks six-year sentence for Dutch man convicted of extorting, harassing B.C. teen

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New Westminster, B.C. -

Warning: Disturbing content

Defence counsel for a Dutch man convicted of extorting and harassing Port Coquitlam teen Amanda Todd is asking for a six-year prison term, which is half the period of incarceration being sought by Crown.

In August, Aydin Coban was found guilty by a jury on multiple charges, including child luring and possession of child pornography. Todd died by suicide in 2012. Coban was not charged in relation to her death.

The Crown is seeking a 12-year prison sentence, which they want to see him serve consecutively to a sentence from the Netherlands which he is currently serving for similar offences. On Wednesday, the court heard the Dutch sentence is set to end in 2024.

Defence lawyer Elliot Holzman told the court they were submitting letters written by Coban’s sister, including one written on behalf of his mother, as well as a letter from the brother of a childhood friend who testified at the trial. The defence also submitted a psychological assessment of Coban.

“Defence does not dispute that the offending caused actual harm to Miss Todd,” Holzman said. “While these offences are very serious, at some point after a decade or more in prison, Mr. Coban will be released to rejoin Dutch society. When he is released, he will have the support of his family and friends. This continuing support, as expressed in the letters, bodes well for rehabilitation and reintegration, and in our submission, may go to reduce future risk.”

Outside court, Todd’s mother Carol said she hopes to see Coban spend more time behind bars.

“These are our kids we’re talking about out there. And you’re trying to get a lesser sentence for someone who preys on children, extorts them, lures them…to me it’s astounding,” she said. “We should be having stiffer penalties for people who victimize. It’s just wrong.”

Prosecutor Louise Kenworthy said Coban first targeted Todd when she was 12 years old, and waged a “two-year campaign” against her. She called Coban’s conduct a “dominant cause” of Todd’s suicide, a characterization which the defence is disputing.

“He was well aware of the profound psychological and emotional harm his actions were causing to her. Ruining Amanda’s life was one of his professed objectives,” Kenworthy said.

“Amanda experienced anxiety and depression, turned to alcohol and substance use, lost friendships, and found herself unable to create many new ones while she was alive.”

During the trial, the court heard how Todd was tormented for years by various online accounts, asking her to perform sexual acts on webcam, and threatening to share explicit images of her if she didn’t comply.

FAMILY SHARES IMPACT STATEMENTS

Todd was 15 years old at the time of her death in October 2012. Before she died, she created a video where she silently held up flashcards which described experiences of blackmail and bullying. The video was played in the court on Tuesday, with images of the teen filling the screens around the room.

Kenworthy said the Crown is also asking for an order prohibiting Coban from accessing online social media sites, chatrooms, or creating profiles on such sites, as well as using the Internet to communicate with anyone under the age of 18 (unless they are a family member) for a period of 15 years.

On Tuesday, Todd’s parents each delivered a victim impact statement. Her mother Carol also read a statement on behalf of Todd’s older brother, who said he would miss being an uncle to her children and growing old together.

Todd’s mother read her statement with a framed photo of her daughter at her side, and said she wished she could hold her one more time.

“Amanda was once a vibrant child, and a curious young person,” Todd’s mother said, and added her daughter wanted to make a difference. “It is her voice we must continue to hear.”

Todd’s father Norm said he was consumed with grief after his daughter’s death.

“My daughter deserved to have a happy, carefree childhood,” he said. “Her tormentor filled her waking moments with fear, humiliation, anxiety, despair, and a desperation that should never be part of a young girl’s life.” 

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