Mother praises Dutch court for sentencing Amanda Todd’s tormentor to six years

Mother praises Dutch court for sentencing Amanda Todd's tormentor to six years
A court in Amsterdam sentenced Aydin Coban Thursday to six years in prison. 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.

The mother of British Columbia teenager Amanda Todd says she’s glad a Dutch court has imposed the maximum six-year jail term on the man convicted of bullying her daughter into suicide.

Carol Todd said an Amsterdam court’s decision Thursday to convert the 13-year sentence for Aydin Coban’s Canadian conviction to the largest sentence the Dutch court could impose brings comfort to her that Amanda did not die in vain.

“Prosecution asked for four-and-a-half (years), and the judges came back with six,” Todd said. “It shows the severity of the crime and the thinking that goes behind the judgment.

“Keeping that man off the streets, off the internet for 17 years in total is a good thing.”

Coban was convicted in the B.C. Supreme Court last year of child pornography, child luring and criminal harassment and was sent back to the Netherlands after the court imposed a 13-year sentence.

He was already serving an 11-year sentence in his home country for similar crimes involving online extortion of 33 girls and gay men.

The sentence imposed Thursday by Amsterdam District Court will be served after he completes his current prison time next year.

Robert Malewicz, Coban’s lawyer, had told the Dutch court his client shouldn’t get any extra time in prison for the Amanda Todd case.

He called the Canadian sentence “exorbitantly high, even by Canadian standards” and said if the court decided to give Coban extra prison time, it should be no more than one year with six months suspended.

Malewicz said Thursday he would appeal the sentencing decision to the Dutch Supreme Court. Coban wasn’t present for the brief hearing to announce the sentence.

Amanda Todd was 15 when she died by suicide at her home in Port Coquitlam in October 2012, weeks after posting a video, watched by millions around the world, describing being harassed and extorted by an online predator.

Carol Todd, who has advocated for the protection of children against online predators and cyberbullying since her daughter’s death, said Amanda left the video “with intent” as a powerful tool to help other youth and families who have encountered sextortion.

“Her dream was the dream of helping kids with this video,” she said. “She told me, ‘I just want people to learn from my story … I’m taking my power back, mom.’

“When she posted it, I actually gave her heck for doing that, because you’re supposed to keep things private,” Carol Todd said. “My question to myself was, what if I had forced her to take it down? We wouldn’t be talking. Amanda would have become just another silent statistic.”

Coban was extradited from the Netherlands to Canada in 2020 to face charges in the Todd case, but only on the condition that any  sentence would be served in a Dutch prison.

That meant that prison time imposed by the B.C. court last year had to be converted into a sentence in the Netherlands.

An information sheet by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Justice shows Dutch prisoners who are sent home after being convicted and sentenced abroad can either have prison terms commuted to the length of time they would have received for their crime in the Netherlands, or the term would be continued and served in full.

But a continued sentence “may never exceed the maximum sentence for the relevant crime in the Netherlands,” the document says.

He was convicted in B.C. Supreme Court last year after the court heard he blackmailed Todd to expose herself in front of a webcam.

In the Canadian trial, the prosecutor had recommended 11 years of prison for Coban, but the court returned with a 13-year sentence.

Monique St. Germain, general counsel for the Canadian Centre for Child Protection said the charity is “disappointed” the Dutch court didn’t impose the full Canadian sentence, but it is encouraged that Coban will serve time for harming Amanda.

St. Germain said they also understand the need to adapt the punishment to the Dutch legal context.

“We are encouraged to learn that he will serve time specifically in recognition of the immense harm inflicted on Amanda, her family and the wider community,” she said.

“We are also thankful our government took the necessary steps to have this man extradited to Canada to go through our processes, thus ensuring that the full extent of his crimes were acknowledged in the Canadian justice system.”

Ann Seymour with the British Columbia Prosecution Service said in a statement that the Dutch court outlined the “international legal principles” involved in the conversion and the service wouldn’t comment further while the matter remains in the courts.

Coban was born in 1978, according to court documents, making him 44 or 45. He was returned to the Netherlands from Canada in late 2022 following his conviction and sentencing in B.C.

— With files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 21, 2023.

Chuck Chiang, The Canadian PressChuck Chiang, The Canadian Press

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