The trial of the Dutch man accused of harassing and extorting B.C. teen Amanda Todd before she took her own life a decade ago heard evidence from an expert in forensic computing and cybercrime with the Dutch National Police on Thursday.
Aydin Coban is facing five charges, including extortion, possession of child pornography, child luring and criminal harassment. The 43-year-old was arrested in 2014 and extradited to Canada in 2020.
Todd became known around the world in 2012 after posting an online video of herself silently holding up flashcards describing a series of cyberbullying and threatening incidents, shortly before she died by suicide.
Via video link and through an interpreter, Insp. Wybren van der Meer testified he was called to a “holiday park” — a subdivision of rental cabins — in Oisterwijk, Netherlands on Jan. 15, 2014. The call was part of an investigation into Coban, who had recently been arrested in the area, the court heard.
Van der Meer told the court he examined a router at one of the holiday homes that had an IP address police were interested in.
The examination, he testified, revealed the router had connected to a device named ‘Admins PC,’ along with the machine’s unique internal IP address and manufacturer-assigned MAC address.
During cross-examination, defence sought to raise doubt about the possibility Coban could have connected to the wifi network van der Meer investigated from the cabin he was staying in when he was arrested.
Defence argued that Coban had been arrested in a cabin in a park called De Rosep, while the router van der Meer had investigated was in a cabin in the adjacent Valkenbosch park.
Defence showed a photo of a brick holiday home with large trees around it, which van der Meer acknowledged could interfere with wifi connectivity. He also testified distance could affect wifi connection.
Van der Meer testified he wasn’t present when Coban was arrested, and could not confirm which holiday parks were involved, how far apart the bungalows were, or whether the cabin he visited was made of brick. He added that he did not know if the cabin Coban was arrested in had wifi or not.
Defence also raised questions about the router logs van der Meer recorded, noting there were two different devices with the name “Admins PC” recorded with different IP and MAC addresses. One of those devices was not explicitly recorded as having been connected by wifi, and van der Meer confirmed it was possible it could have been connected by a hard-wired internet cable.
The Crown alleges Coban used a network of 22 fake social media accounts to harass Todd and leverage explicit images of her to blackmail her into performing pornographic shows on webcam for him.
It alleges Coban also used those accounts to send explicit video of her to friends, family and her school community.
The case hinges on the question of identity, with Crown seeking to prove Coban was the person behind those accounts. Prosecutors have said they will make the case through technical analysis as well as the content and timing of the messages.
The defence alleges there is no link between Coban and the online extortionist, and that Todd likely shared her social media passwords with others.
Earlier in the day, van der Meer walked the jury through the technical process by which wireless routers connect with and identify user devices and the internet.
He explained how internet service providers assign unique external IP addresses to individual routers, and how routers communicate with unique internal IP and MAC addresses assigned to internet-enabled devices.
In its opening statements Monday, the Crown said it will call several Dutch witnesses, including police who searched the holiday bungalow where Coban lived when he was arrested in 2014, and technology experts who examined computers and hard drives seized at the time.
Throughout Thursday’s testimony Coban sat quietly in the prisoners box, occasionally taking notes and, at one point, appearing to wave at someone in the gallery.
Earlier this week, court heard testimony from Todd’s mother, Carol, and father Norm, who described their daughter’s torment as she received threatening messages from an unknown stalker between 2009 and 2012.
Todd changed schools several times amid real-world bullying linked to the online messages and suffered declining mental health, they said.
The court also heard how invested she was in social media, and how she resisted withdrawing from it despite recommendations from the police after her family reported the threatening messages.