Defence in B.C. teen Todd's case wants 6-year sentence, not 12, like Crown requests
Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, October 12, 2022 11:30AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 12, 2022 10:47PM EDT
NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. - A man found guilty of multiple sexual offences against British Columbia teen Amanda Todd should be imprisoned for six years, not 12, as requested by the Crown, his defence lawyer says.
Elliot Holzman told B.C. Supreme Court that while Todd was harmed, she was the only victim and his client's actions were not as serious compared with other cases resulting in sentences of about eight years.
Todd killed herself at her home in Port Coquitlam on Oct. 10, 2012, weeks after posting a video using flash cards saying she had no one to talk to, was suffering from anxiety and depression and had twice switched schools.
By then, she had endured over two years of torment by Dutch national Aydin Coban, who sent pornographic material of Todd to other children, adults and administrators at the schools she attended.
While Crown attorney Louise Kenworthy said Todd's suffering at the hands of Coban was a “dominant” cause of the girl's suicide at age 15, Holzman disagreed.
“Our position is that there is an insufficiency of evidence to prove that,” he said Wednesday.
He pointed to letters of support for Coban - one from his mother, another from his older sister and a third from a friend - and noted his client has no prior criminal record in Canada.
However, Coban has been in custody since 2014, serving a nearly 11-year sentence for 68 similar offences in the Netherlands involving 33 girls, some as young as nine.
Coban, 44, was extradited to Canada to face trial in the Todd case and convicted in August of extortion, communication with a young person to commit a sexual offence, possession and distribution of child pornography and child luring.
Holzman said Coban had a pro-social upbringing, and the support of his family and friends bodes well for his reintegration into society.
Kenworthy has described the man as unrepentant, at high risk to reoffend, unwilling to enter a rehabilitation program and deserving of a longer sentence that reflects his crime and serves as a deterrent.
She said earlier Wednesday that Coban groomed Todd by posing as teenage boys and girls, then encouraged her to flash for him before distributing that photo and threatening to destroy her life if she did not provide more pornographic material.
“Mr. Coban first targeted Amanda when she was 12 years old. He sought to sextort her and was well aware of the psychological and emotional harm his actions were causing. Ruining her life was one of his professed objectives during his two-year campaign against her.”
The frequency and duration of the sexual violence contributed to Todd's psychological issues, her use of alcohol and other substances as well as her moves to several schools, Kenworthy said.
The court has heard Todd feared her images would be on the internet forever and begged her school peers not to forward them, but they had already been widely distributed.
Kenworthy has asked Justice Martha Devlin for a 12-year sentence that should be served in addition to Coban's Dutch term.
However, Holzman said much of the sentence should be served concurrently.
His co-counsel, Joseph Saulnier, said Coban's mother saw him in a Dutch prison over Skype before he was extradited, but he can't make long-distance phone calls from Canada and has written to his family.
Saulnier told the court Coban's family mailed him clothes to wear to court and also sent him money.
He argued the extortion and luring offences essentially amount to the same endeavour in order to get child pornography material and the convictions should not be double counted in sentencing.
Saulnier said those two counts should be part of a concurrent sentence, or served at the same time, in keeping with decisions by sentencing judges hearing similar extortion cases.
“It is the position of the defence that such a total aggregate would be crushing and excessive, even with a concurrent sentence,” he said of the Crown's proposal of a dozen years behind bars for Coban.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 12, 2022.