Data ‘fragments’ can’t identify Dutch man as Amanda Todd’s extortionist, says defence
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NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. – “Fragments” of computer data cited by police cannot link a Dutch man to the harassment and extortion of British Columbia teenager Amanda Todd, says a defence lawyer.
Joseph Saulnier, representing Aydin Coban, began his closing arguments Tuesday afternoon by telling a B.C. Supreme Court jury trial they should convict his client only if they are satisfied of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
“There’s limited information you can draw from a fragment of data, particularly in deleted space,” Saulnier told the jury. “In fact, there was often evidence that these fragments or files came from elsewhere.”
Coban has pleaded not guilty to extortion, harassment, communication with a young person to commit a sexual offence and possessing child pornography.
Crown attorney Louise Kenworthy had wrapped up her closing her arguments earlier in the day, saying there was a “treasure trove of information” linking Coban to the harassment and extortion of Todd.
But the main issue in the trial, Saulnier told the jury, is that the identity of the person behind the messages and extortion cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Coban’s defence did not call any evidence during the trial.
“Even if you find Mr. Coban is probably guilty, that’s not good enough. That’s not beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Saulnier.
There was a “great deal” of evidence in the trial that Coban repaired computers and replaced hard drives, some of which he received in the mail, his lawyer said.
“It’s my submission that this can account for some of the devices in his possession,” he said. “If he is the computer guy working on and repairing those devices there is an association, they’re in his bungalow.”
He cautioned the jury against the Crown’s use of the term “sextortionist,” calling it “advocacy.”
At the start of the trial two months ago, the Crown told the jury Todd had been the victim of a persistent campaign of online “sextortion” over three years before her death at age 15 in October 2012.
“I won’t be using that term,” he said. “Mr. Coban is not charged with sextortion.”
Crown attorney Kenworthy said earlier Tuesday that although the evidence against Coban was circumstantial, two devices seized by police link him to the Port Coquitlam teenager.
“All roads lead to Mr. Coban,” Kenworthy told the jury as she walked them through evidence found on the two devices that she said showed they were used by the Dutch man.
“He is the person who committed these offences. There is no other reasonable inference.”
A police officer testified at the trial that he found evidence that several of the accounts used to extort Todd originated from the two devices seized by Dutch police when Coban was arrested in January 2014.
Kenworthy told the jury that an employment letter and bank statements with Coban’s name were also found on one of the devices.
She also said a Skype account linked to another alias used to harass Todd was active on a device in Coban’s home just minutes before he was arrested.
Facebook records show that the Skype account “KelseyMeowz” was operated by the same person who used the alias “KelseyRain2,” which had previously contacted Todd, she said.
“So, what does that mean? It means the user of ‘KelseyMeowz’ was at that computer at that time. What’s that time in Dutch time? That’s 9:55 p.m. Mr. Coban was arrested alone in his residence at 10 o’clock. Mr. Coban is KelseyMeowz. Mr. Coban is KelseyRain2.”
Kenworthy told jury members they don’t need to accept all or even most of the inferences the Crown has made in order to be satisfied that Coban is the person who committed these offences.
“This is a clear case.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 2, 2022.