The Dutch citizen convicted in the "sextortion" of Port Coquitlam student Amanda Todd should be banned from communicating on the internet for 15 years, Crown Counsel submitted this morning (Oct. 12).
Lead prosecutor Louise Kenworthy also asked Justice Martha Devlin at BC Supreme Court to order a lifetime firearms prohibition against Aydin Coban, whose sentencing hearing is happening this week at the New Westminster Law Courts.
Coban, 44, was founded guilty by a jury in August on five counts:
- importing and distributing child pornography
- possession of child pornography
- communicating with the intent to lure a child
- criminal harassment
Crown Counsel is asking for a combined sentence of 23 years, reduced for totality to 12 years behind bars, to serve consecutively with his current 10-year sentence in the Netherlands, which ends in August 2024.
The Crown is asking for a judicial stay on the third conviction: possession of child porn, based on the Kienapple principle (a person can’t be convicted of two offences that are as a result of the same act).
Kenworthy told the court that Coban was "well aware of the psychological harm he caused" Amanda Todd.
“Ruining her life was his objective,” she contended, noting the “shame” and “humiliation” he caused the 15-year-old girl, who took her life 10 years ago after posting a YouTube video about her struggles that went viral.
Kenworthy pressed for a sentence on the higher end for sex crimes involving children, telling the judge that Coban has refused to take part in psychological assessments while in prison in the Netherlands and at the North Fraser Pre-trial Centre in Port Coquitlam.
Kenworthy also noted Dutch probation officials have rated Coban as a high risk for reoffending.
"He must be separated from society to prevent further harm to children," Kenworthy urged.
Meanwhile, defence counsel Elliot Holzman argued on Wednesday morning (Oct. 12) that his client should receive half the sentence that the Crown is seeking: six years in prison rather than a dozen.
In his submission, Holzman presented as evidence three letters to the judge that speak of Coban’s character: from his mother (written by Coban’s older sister); from his older sister; and from his childhood friend, Kenan Gokcinar (his brother Adem testified during Coban’s nine-week trial).
As well, Holzman offered a psychiatric assessment of Coban from January 2015.
He argued that the Crown’s 12-year sentencing position "isn’t proportionate" given Coban is a first-time offender in Canada and his actions impacted one child.
For the six-year global sentence proposal, Holzman suggested Devlin impose
- three years for extortion
- 1.5 years for importing and distributing child pornography (to run consecutive to the extortion sentence)
- 4.5 years for child luring (to run concurrently)
- two years for criminal harassment (to run concurrently)
He asked that the penalty be reduced for totality — i.e., so that the sentence for all offences isn’t excessive.
Holzman also offered some personal background about Coban who, during Wednesday’s hearing, scrolled through legal documents on a laptop while in the prisoner’s box.
Born in the Netherlands, Coban is the son of Turkish emigres. He lived in Tilburg, as well as in Ghent, Belgium, and his father, a car salesman, died when Coban was 17. Because of financial struggles, Holzman said, Coban dropped out of school to work and support the family.
Holzman said his client was in close contact with his family before he was extradited to Canada in 2020, and they describe Coban as "generous" and "hard working."
Asked by Devlin about Coban's lack of participation in prison programs in the Netherlands and Canada, Holzman responded, "He keeps to himself."
Holzman also dismissed the Crown’s allegation that Coban’s actions were the "dominant cause" of Amanda Todd’s suicide on Oct. 10, 2012.
And he argued that Coban was not in a position of trust as a adult as he operated 22 fake aliases on four social media platforms. "They were virtual strangers," Holzman said of Coban and Todd’s digital connection.
Holzman also referenced several Canadian precedents, including the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark case on child exploitation, R. vs. Friesen, which calls for greater protection of minors against sex offenders, as well as R. vs. Sinclair, a Manitoba Court of Appeal case in which the defendant received eight years in jail.