Amanda Todd trial: 'Probably guilty' not good enough, defence says in closing

The trial of the Dutch man accused of cyberbullying Amanda Todd before she took her own life is nearing the end of closing submissions.

Nine weeks into the trial of a Dutch man accused of harassing and extorting B.C. teen Amanda Todd before her death, a B.C. court getting its first fulsome look at his defence’s case.

Joseph Saulnier, a lawyer for Aydin Coban, did not call any witnesses during the trial and until Tuesday had been limited to cross-examination.

Coban, 44, has pleaded not guilty to five charges, including possession of child pornography, extortion, criminal harassment and communication with a young person to commit a sexual offence.

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Amanda Todd trial — Crown draws links between accused, ‘sextortion’ messages in closing arguments

On Tuesday afternoon, Saulnier opened his closing arguments by telling the jury they can not convict his client unless they are sure, beyond a reasonable doubt, he is guilty.

“Even if you find Mr. Coban is probably guilty, that’s not good enough,” Saulnier told the 12-member jury.

“The main issue in this trial is identity, identity of the person who committed extortion, identity of the person or people behind the messages — it’s my submission the Crown has not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that it was Mr. Coban who authored those messages,” he added.

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“You may find that many or even all of the accounts are connected or authored by a single person — that doesn’t mean that person is Mr. Coban. “

Saulnier questioned some of Crown’s evidence, such as fragments of data recovered from devices seized from Coban’s cabin, which he said provided limited information, and evidence suggests could have come from elsewhere. He added that he would show how Coban — a “computer guy”  who did repairs for others — had a reasonable explanation for possessing hard drives with data potentially linked to Todd’s extortionist.

He also told the jury they must consider each of the five charges on their own.

Focusing on the elements needed to prove the crime of harassment, Saulnier spent considerable time focusing on whether Todd actually feared for her safety, highlighting what he said were inconsistencies between her statements about how she was feeling during the alleged harassment and her actual behaviours in response.

He also questioned the possession of child pornography charges, noting that no actual pictures or video of Todd, let alone explicit ones, were on devices seized from the cabin where Coban was arrested.

A Skype account linked to one of the online aliases used in the “sextortion” of B.C. teen Amanda Todd before her death was in use in her alleged tormentor’s home just five minutes before his arrest, Crown prosecutors earlier Tuesday.

That account, lead prosecutor Louise Kenworthy said, was one of two key pieces of evidence identifying Dutch Citizen Aydin Coban as the man behind a “persistent campaign of sextortion” against the teen, as she wrapped Crown’s closing arguments and urged the jury to convict him on all counts.

“All roads lead to Mr. Coban. He is the person who committed these offences. There is no other reasonable inference,” Kenworthy said.

Coban, 44, has pleaded not guilty to five charges, including possession of child pornography, extortion, criminal harassment and communication with a young person to commit a sexual offence.

The Skype account that was in use just before Coban’s arrest, “KelseyMeowz,” is not one of the 22 aliases Crown says the sextortionist used. But Facebook records, Kenworthy told the jury, suggest it is operated by the same person as the alias “KelseyRain2,” which had previously interacted with the teen and approached her about doing “cam stuff.”

Kenworthy cited testimony from RCMP digital forensics expert Sgt. Keith Hack in tying the account to Coban.

“He was asked, what was going on during that five minutes. And he said messages were being sent and received,” 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 Kelsey Meowz. Mr. Coban is KelseyRain2.”

The second prong of Crown’s case identifying Coban as the sextortionist is a phone number used to register one of the offending Facebook accounts that harassed Todd that two witnesses tied to a photo of Coban.

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Kenworthy also highlighted a “treasure trove” of data on two hard drives seized from Coban’s Oisterwijk bungalow, testified to by Hack and Dutch cybercrime investigators, which she said held both evidence of the sextortionist at work in periods where Todd was actively harassed and direct links to Coban.

The data includes an employment letter along with several other instances of Coban’s name in recovered files, evidence of connections to the laptop and PC seized from Coban’s home, and records of connection to a neighbour’s Wi-Fi router about 40 metres away.

At least two of the offending aliases had also used that router’s IP address, Kenworthy said, suggesting to the jury it was “preposterous” anyone but Coban could have also been connecting to it.

The drives, the court has previously heard, had been used to play a now-deleted video file called Amanda Todd.wmv, to conduct Skype chats with Todd using the KelseyRain2 account, and held deleted bookmarks to a website hosting a pornographic video of the teen along with many of her friends’ Facebook accounts.

Todd took her own life in 2012 after three years of online harassment. She became known worldwide for a YouTube video she produced shortly before her death where she silently held up cue cards describing her torment.

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Crown alleges Coban used 22 online aliases to target the teen with a “persistent campaign of sextortion.” The court has heard that her extortionist obtained a video of her exposing her breasts, and used it to try and blackmail her into performing sexual “shows” on webcam. In some cases, the blackmailer followed through, sending links to the video to friends, family and her school community.

The long and highly technical trial has heard from more than 30 witnesses from Canada and the Netherlands and includes more than 80 exhibits submitted as evidence.

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