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Jury now deliberating in online extortion case of British Columbia teen

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — Carol Todd said she wants her daughter's legacy to live on past a verdict as the jury began its deliberations Friday at the trial of Amanda Todd's alleged tormentor.
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In this courtroom sketch, Aydin Coban is pictured at B.C. Supreme Court, in New Westminster, B.C., on Monday, June 6, 2022.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jane Wolsak

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — Carol Todd said she wants her daughter's legacy to live on past a verdict as the jury began its deliberations Friday at the trial of Amanda Todd's alleged tormentor.

Fighting back tears, Todd said she is hopeful the jury finds Dutch national Aydin Coban guilty on all five counts he is charged with, but is trying to be "realistic" because "nothing is a guarantee."

No matter the verdict, Todd said she will continue being a voice for her daughter. 

"Her story won't bring her back, but it can save others, other kids, and that's the whole goal. I hope Amanda's story will go on and her legacy will go on," Todd said in an interview outside the court. 

Coban pleaded not guilty to extortion, harassment, communication with a young person to commit a sexual offence and possession and distribution of child pornography at the start of the trial two months ago.

Crown attorney Louise Kenworthy told the jury in her opening statements that Amanda Todd had been the victim of a persistent campaign of online "sextortion'' before her death by suicide at age 15.

She wrapped up her closing arguments Tuesday saying there was a "treasure trove of information" linking Coban to the harassment and extortion of the teen. 

Defence lawyer Joseph Saulnier told the jury in his closing arguments that "fragments" of computer data cited by police cannot link the Dutch man to the harassment and extortion of the teen. He said the main issue in the trial is the identity of the person behind the messages, and extortion cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Jury members will be sequestered until they reach their verdict.

Justice Martha Devlin provided instructions to the jury before deliberations began on Friday, telling them to take "special care" with the teen's statements.

Devlin said because Amanda Todd died in October 2012 and didn't testify or wasn't able to be cross-examined at Coban's trial, the jury needs to be aware of the limitations of evidence given. 

Devlin said jury members should carefully examine the statements Todd gave to her parents, police officers and in her electronic communications when they consider Coban's verdict. 

"Do not place Amanda Todd's statements on the same footing as the statements of a witness who testified for you in this trial," she told the jury. "Give her statements special care and the weight you think they deserve."

Before summarizing the evidence and testimony given in the 38-day trial, Devlin was careful to say that Coban was not charged in the girl's death.

"You have heard evidence in this trial that Amanda Todd died on Oct. 10, 2012. Mr. Coban is charged with five offences, all of which are alleged to have occurred between November 2009 and February 2012. Amanda Todd's death and the circumstances of her death are not part of this trial," Devlin said.

About a month before her death, the teen posted a video where she used flash cards describing the harassment from her anonymous cyberbully. Her plea brought attention to the issue of cyberbullying to the mainstream, and since the video was posted, it has been watched millions of times. 

"If it wasn't for that video, people wouldn't know our story, I don't even know if we'd be standing here in court, because that video went viral and then her story has changed the landscape on conversation," Carol Todd said after the jury began its deliberations.  

She said she hopes that her daughter's legacy brings change for others who have been victimized in a similar way.

"You tell a real-life story and people sit up and listen," she said. "I wish Amanda had known she wasn't alone in the exploitation part — that others in the world were being exploited just like her. I think if she was here and felt supported, she would be able to be OK."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2022.

Brieanna Charlebois, The Canadian Press

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