B.C. judge sentences ‘sextortionist’ to 13 years in case involving Amanda Todd

By Martin MacMahon and Hana Mae Nassar

The parents of Amanda Todd are pleased with the sentence handed to the man found guilty of harassing and tormenting the B.C. teen before she took her own life.

Aydin Coban, 44, was handed a 13-year sentence Friday. Amanda’s mother, Carol, says she was expecting a lower sentence for the Dutch man.

“I thought somewhere in the middle would be where it would land,” Todd told the media outside B.C. Supreme Court Friday. “I’ve watched a lot of crime shows and usually, judges don’t go up in…what’s being asked for. It was kind of a shake my head and ‘did I hear it right?’ It was just a breathtaking moment.”

“I had to ask my son because I was trying to take notes and I was writing these numbers down, and I had to turn to him and say… ‘was that true what she just said? 13 years?’ because, truthfully, I was expecting something like eight or nine,” she added.

Amanda’s father, Norm, was “excited” with the judge’s decision.

“I was hoping and praying we got a high sentence, but our expectations were lower. So, everybody pulled together and we got through to the judge and set a really high precedent which is really nice,” he said. “I’m really happy about that.”

Todd’s family has been advocating for more awareness surrounding cyberbullying, internet safety, and mental health since Amanda took her own life 10 years ago. Carol says Friday’s sentence will make an impact.

“This will make a difference in the world for the kids. And I have to hope that Amanda’s watching from somewhere to see what her voice did for everyone,” she said.

“I did it with everyone who helped, because I couldn’t do it alone. It comes down to media, it comes down to supporters, it comes down to other organizations who took Amanda’s story and owned it. And treated it like Amanda was their own child,” Todd added.

Aydin Coban sentenced 13 years

Coban’s sentence was one year more than what Crown prosecutors had requested after he was convicted in August of extortion, child luring, and sexual and pornography offences in B.C court.

“The court has declared that the sentence will run consecutively with the sentence he is currently serving in the Netherlands,” the B.C. Prosecution Service said in a statement. “In accordance with the terms of the temporary surrender agreement with authorities in the Netherlands it is anticipated that Mr. Coban will soon be returned to that jurisdiction to serve that sentence.”

On Friday, Justice Martha Devlin of the B.C. Supreme Court said Coban’s conduct called for “sharp rebuke.”

She called the man an “internet sextortionist,” saying the 44-year-old’s calculated conduct caused Amanda mental anguish and social isolation, contributing to her suicide after he told her he would ruin her life.

Amanda Todd is shown in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Facebook, HO

Amanda Todd is shown in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Facebook, HO

Coban, a Dutch citizen, was extradited from the Netherlands to B.C. to face the charges.

He was already handed an 11-year prison term in his home country for similar offences involving children. Coban’s lawyer has previously said B.C. Supreme Court Justice Martha Devlin should sentence him to an additional two years in Canada because any more time would be unduly harsh.

Amanda, who was 15 when she died by suicide on Oct. 10, 2012, gained worldwide attention when she posted a video weeks before her death on using flash cards to explain how she was harassed and extorted by an anonymous online predator.

Devlin says Coban used an arsenal of fake social media sites and went to great lengths to search out Amanda’s family members and friends to maximize the harm after she pleaded for him to stop.

Amanda’s father, Norm, told reporters after the sentence was announced that he was pleased with the 13 years Coban was given. After expressing his gratitude to Crown prosecutors and police for their work on his daughter’s case, Norm said he felt the judge took to heart family victim impact statements, which were delivered earlier this week.

Norm Todd wiped away tears as he made his statement Tuesday, telling the court that it’s impossible for him to imagine the threats and “lurking evil” that encircled his teen after she was lured and exploited by a cyberbully.

He said he was so consumed with anger and sadness that every aspect of his life was affected.

Amanda Todd’s mother wants laws to change

Carol Todd previously said the sentence requested by Crown prosecutors was not nearly enough for the man who tormented her daughter for years.

But it was not just a long sentence Carol was looking for. She continues to push for laws to change.

“We talk about extortion and underneath the Criminal Code they talk about firearms prohibitions and all that. Where is the word technology? Where is the word technological device in that Criminal Code for extortion? Because in 2022, people are using technology to extort people,” she said earlier in the week, prior to the sentence being handed down.

Earlier this month, Carol told MPs, as a House of Commons committee studies the issue of mental health of women and girls, that education and awareness to recognize and respond to online harassment is critical for parents, teachers and students.

She stressed that that also needs to include police officers, who can help prevent further harm by taking complaints seriously and not shaming victims.

Carol admits that both the trial and the sentencing hearing have been incredibly difficult to endure.

“The defence stated that remorse is only a word and Mr. Coban, even though Crown has shown that he has shown lack of remorse and remorse is not important, then why am I as an educator teaching children compassion and empathy in the school system?” she told reporters earlier this week.

With files from The Canadian Press

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