A decade ago this week, Port Coquitlam student Amanda Todd took her life.
Today (Oct. 14), the Dutch man who tormented her for two years was sentenced to 13 years in jail for his "persistent campaign" of online sextortion against the 15-year-old girl.
Gasps and tears were heard in the courtroom gallery after Justice Martha Devlin delivered the precedent-setting decision for Canada — a year more than what Crown Counsel proposed.
In the two hours she spent reading the sentence, the judge called Aydin Coban’s actions "callous," "deliberate" and "with complete utter disregard for the harm of Amanda Todd."
"Ruining Amanda's life was expressly Mr. Coban's goal," she read.
And giving Coban a sentence concurrent to his Dutch sentence would "amount to giving him a free ride."
Devlin asked Coban to stand as she formally sentenced the man who is currently serving a 10-year sentence in the Netherlands for 68 convictions involving 33 girls.
The sentence also includes a lifetime sex-offender order, a 15-year internet ban and a firearms prohibition.
Wearing a dark green dress shirt and grey pants, with his long grey hair slicked back, Coban showed no expression as the judge spoke; he spent the hearing writing on a notepad and scrolling on a laptop.
In August, after a nine-week trial at the New Westminster Law Courts, a jury found Coban guilty on five charges:
- importing and distributing child pornography
- possession of child pornography
- communicating with the intent to lure a child
- criminal harassment
However, at sentencing, the Crown asked for a judicial stay on the possession of child porn conviction, citing a legal principle.
During the sentencing hearing this week, lead prosecutor Louise Kenworthy asked that Coban be locked up for 12 more years — to run consecutively to his Dutch sentence — while defence counsel sought six years concurrent (to run at the same time), or two years consecutive.
Defence lawyer Joe Saulnier argued the Crown’s submission of a dozen more years in prison would bring Coban’s total sentence to around 22 years, an “excessive” and “crushing” length of time in custody, he said.
Saulnier contended the Amanda Todd case was part of the Dutch case as it was mentioned in Coban’s probationary report in the Netherlands.
Coban, 44, who has been in jail since his arrest in January 2014, didn’t address the Canadian court, and showed no remorse. He refused to take part in programs or assessments while in jail, the court heard on Thursday.
Dutch authorities state Coban is at a “high risk for re-offending,” Kenworthy said.
What Coban did
In his two-year quest to extort Todd, starting when she was 12 years old, Coban sent more than 700 messages to her, her friends, her family and school officials, using 22 fake online aliases to groom and taunt her.
Coban threatened to distribute private images of her if she didn’t perform more sex shows for him.
He used sophisticated software to hide his identity, and stole his neighbour’s Wi-Fi.
On her social media platforms, Todd begged for help and asked her followers to report her tormentor; however, he mocked her — calling her a “whore” and “liar” — and continued to pursue the girl as she changed municipalities and schools.
On Sept. 7, 2012, Todd created a YouTube video, holding up index cards to expose her struggles and self-harm; that video went viral after Todd died a month later, on Oct. 10, 2012, at her home in Port Coquitlam, weeks before her 16th birthday.
You can view the video by clicking the embedded link below.
In her victim impact statement, Carol Todd said her daughter shared how she was feeling before her suicide.
“She said, in her words, ‘I’m struggling to stay in this world because everything just touches me so deeply. I’m not doing this for attention. I’m doing this to be an inspiration and to show that I can be strong. I did things to myself to make pain go away because I would rather hurt myself than someone else. Haters are haters, but please don’t hate me although I’m sure I’ll get them.”
The judge said Amanda Todd's name is "now known around the world" because of her video outreach.
"Amanda Todd wanted her voice to be heard," she said while acknowledging the parents and son's suffering as a result of Coban's online abuse.
Devlin also thanked the Crown and defence counsels for their professionalism during the lengthy trial.
Still, the judge said the Coban case is a "cautionary tale" about the dangers lurking on the internet, especially for children.
With the sentencing delivered, Coban will return to the Netherlands within the next 45 days. A Dutch court will hold a hearing to convert his Canadian sentence for the Dutch jail term.
Today is also the last day to bid on items in the sixth annual online auction for the Amanda Todd Legacy Society. The fundraiser ends at 8 p.m. on Oct. 14.