News Local

Mother of Amanda Todd relieved at guilty verdict of daughter's alleged harasser

Nick Eagland

Amanda Todd.

Amanda Todd.

The man accused of harassing Port Coquitlam teen Amanda Todd before her death has been found guilty of abusing dozens more people online in a trial in the Netherlands.

Aydin Coban, 38, was convicted Thursday for fraud and blackmail using the Internet, according to a statement from Dutch legal authorities.

He was given the maximum possible sentence of 10 years and eight months “because of the devastating consequences his behaviour has had on the young lives of the girls” in particular, and out of fear that he could commit new offences if released, the statement said.

"It was great to hear it," Amanda's mother Carol Todd said by phone Thursday. She said the family wanted Coban to receive a longer sentence, but was pleased with a guilty verdict, which she hopes will form case law related to online predation and harassment.

"Offenders will hopefully know that they can be tried anywhere," Todd said.

Coban pretended to be a boy or girl and persuaded his victims to perform sexual acts in front of a webcam, then posted the images online or blackmailed them by threatening to do so. He was accused of abusing 34 girls and five gay men, behaviour the court called “astonishing.” In some cases, the abuse lasted years.

In the case of Amanda Todd, who was 15 when took her own life in 2012, Coban faces a separate trial in Canada on charges including extortion, possession of child pornography and attempting to lure a child online.

The teen brought attention to cyberbullying when she posted a video on YouTube in which she told her story with handwritten signs, describing how she was lured by a stranger to expose her breasts on a webcam.

The webcam picture ended up on a Facebook page made by the stranger, and she was repeatedly bullied, despite changing schools. She took her own life weeks after posting the video in 2012.

Carol Todd described what her daughter experienced as cyber-harassment and "sextortion."

A Dutch court has approved Coban's extradition to Canada following his trial in Amsterdam. He has appealed that decision and denies involvement in any cyberbullying.

Now, it's again a matter of waiting for the court's decision, Carol Todd said.

"But you know what? If this changes things — how we view online predation and this cyber behaviour — then it's OK to wait. There's a lot more people out there in the world that need to hear it," she said.

"Amanda's story is a story that got global attention but it's also a story that can happen anywhere."

Todd said she hopes hearing about cases like her daughter's will spur parents and educators to speak with children and classrooms about Internet safety, privacy settings and far-reaching and diverse approaches to online harassment.

with a file from Associated Press