Judge instructs jury ahead of deliberation in B.C. teenager’s online extortion case

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — The B.C. Supreme Court judge in the trial of a Dutch man accused of harassing and extorting teenager Amanda Todd told the jury on Friday to be “watchful” for teenager’s statements.

Judge Martha Devlin said that since Todd died in October 2012, did not testify and could not be cross-examined at Aydin Coban’s trial, the jury should be aware of the limitations of the evidence given.

In his final instructions before deliberations begin, Devlin said jury members should carefully consider statements Todd made to his parents, police officers and in his email communications when considering Coban’s verdict.

« Do not equate Amanda Todd’s statements with the statements of any witness who testified for you in this trial, » she told the jury. « Give his statements the careful consideration and weight you think they deserve. »

Coban pleaded not guilty to extortion, harassment, communicating with a youth to commit a sexual offense and possessing and distributing child pornography at the start of the trial two months ago.

Before summarizing the evidence and testimony given during the 38-day trial, Devlin was careful to say that Coban was not charged with Todd’s death.

« You have heard evidence in this trial that Amanda Todd died on October 10, 2012. Mr. Coban is charged with five offences, all of which were allegedly committed between November 2009 and February 2012. Amanda Todd’s death and circumstances of his death is not part of this trial, » Devlin said.

Crown attorney Louise Kenworthy told the jury in her opening statement that Todd had been the victim of a persistent online ‘sextortion’ campaign before his death at the age of 15.

She concluded her closing arguments on Tuesday by saying there was a « treasure trove of information » linking Coban to Todd’s harassment and extortion.

Defense attorney Joseph Saulnier told the jury in closing arguments that « fragments » of computer data cited by police cannot link the Dutchman to Todd’s harassment and extortion. He said the main issue in the lawsuit was the identity of the person behind the messages and that extortion could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Jury members are expected to begin their deliberations later Friday.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 5, 2022.

Brieanna Charlebois, The Canadian Press


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