Amanda Todd’s father, mother, brother tell B.C. sentencing hearing about loss

Amanda Todd's father, mother, brother tell B.C. sentencing hearing about loss
Aydin Coban is shown in this handout photo from the time of his arrest by Dutch police, entered into an exhibit at his trial in British Columbia Supreme Court in New Westminster.

Amanda Todd’s father wiped away tears in a British Columbia Supreme Court as he struggled to describe his own torment following the harassment his daughter endured online before she ended her life.

Norm Todd, who had declined to speak publicly in the decade since his 15-year-old daughter died by suicide, said in his victim impact statement that it’s impossible for him to imagine the threats and “lurking evil” that encircled his daughter after she was lured and exploited by a cyberbully.

“When I lost my daughter, every aspect of my life was affected. I was consumed with grief, and I wanted to know why, everywhere I looked I saw my daughter,” Todd said Tuesday of the little girl who continued to laugh, dance and sing in his mind’s eye.

“I struggled to relate and to communicate with loved ones,” he said, adding anger and sadness consumed him.

“My daughter deserved to have a happy, carefree childhood and not have to worry about any kind of daily torment she was subjected to.”

The teen’s mother, Carol Todd, placed a framed photo of a smiling daughter by her side as she read her victim statement, and one from her son, Christopher Todd, who said he yearns for his only sibling.

Carol Todd said she has struggled with guilt about whether she could have done more to protect her daughter, whose love of singing brought her to the internet and ultimately to the darkness that lay within it from a man who first called her beautiful, then exploited her.

Todd changed schools twice and suffered through anxiety and depression as Dutch citizen Aydin Coban escalated his threats, the court heard.

Crown attorney Louise Kenworthy asked the judge to sentence the 44-year-old man to 12 years in prison for multiple child sexual offences against Todd, who took her own life on Oct. 10, 2012.

Kenworthy said Todd was the target of a concerted online sexploitation scheme by Coban as he hid behind 22 aliases and threatened her to the point that she feared he would never stop.

“The offences he committed were morally repugnant. His conduct was calculated, callous, and had devastating consequences,” Kenworthy said, adding Coban refused to have a psychological assessment at his trial in the Netherlands and has also said no to rehabilitation.

“It’s the Crown’s submission that Mr. Coban is at high risk to reoffend and needs to be separated from society for a lengthy period of time to protect children,” she told Justice Martha Devlin.

Coban has been in custody since 2014 after being convicted of dozens of similar offences in the Netherlands and should serve the Canadian sentence in addition to the 11-year sentence imposed by a Dutch court, Kenworthy said.

She said Coban’s defence lawyer plans to ask for a concurrent sentence to account for the remaining part of the first prison term and will argue there is a link between the offences against Todd and others involving his client.

However, Kenworthy said the offences against Todd are unrelated, even though Coban may have used the same techniques and aliases to target others in his homeland, where some of his victims were as young as nine.

Todd killed herself about five weeks after posting an online video using flash cards to describe her sadness and despair as she was being blackmailed by an anonymous online predator.

Coban was extradited from the Netherlands to face trial in B.C. In August, a jury found him guilty of extortion, harassment, communication with a young person to commit a sexual offence, possession and distribution of child pornography and child luring.

Kenworthy said Coban began luring the girl from Port Coquitlam, B.C., when she was 12. When she did not comply with his demands for webcam shows, he made good on his threats by sending her photos and videos to her family, peers and school administrators.

She said Coban was technologically sophisticated and masked his IP address so the RCMP could not identify suspects. He used anti-forensic software, disguised his voice and stole Wi-Fi from password-protected routers, Kenworthy told the court.

Coban persuaded Todd he was a teenage boy or girl instead of a man who was then in his 30s, Kenworthy said, adding he also posed as a 15-year-old from Toronto who would be going to her school.

He also pretended to be a concerned employee of an online child protection agency and sent messages to Todd’s father, other close family members and a girlfriend, the court heard.

Coban mocked Todd’s body, sent links of child pornography to students and adults at her school, and threatened to ruin the teen’s life at her new school, Kenworthy said.

Todd was scared and begged her friends not to forward photos of her but while some defended her, others used the same language as Coban when he blamed her, saying, “she asked for it,” the Crown said.

Kenworthy outlined each offence Coban has been convicted of and said the total sentence amounts to 23 years but that the so-called totality principle for consecutive sentences dictates imprisonment should not be unduly long or harsh.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 11, 2022.

Camille Bains, The Canadian PressCamille Bains, The Canadian Press

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