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Hidden cash, passport, hard drive found in suspect’s cabin, Amanda Todd ‘sextortion’ trial hears

Click to play video: 'Dutch police officer testifies about items found in vacation home where Amanda Todd suspect was arrested' Dutch police officer testifies about items found in vacation home where Amanda Todd suspect was arrested
The trial of the Dutch man accused of harassing B.C. teen Amanda Todd online heard from Lieutenant Erik Verstraten of the Dutch National Police about what was evidence was found when investigators searched the holiday home where Aydin Coban was arrested. Rumina Daya reports – Jun 14, 2022

A passport, €10,000 cash and a hard drive were among the items found in a vacation home searched by police who investigated the man accused of extorting B.C. teen Amanda Todd, his trial heard Tuesday.

Dutch citizen Aydin Coban, 43, has pleaded not guilty to five criminal charges, including possession of child pornography, communication with a young person to commit a sexual offence and criminal harassment in the high-profile Todd case.

Todd took her own life in 2012 a few days after posting an online video that eventually went viral, in which she silently holds up flashcards describing incidents of harassment and bullying. She was 15.

Read more: Dutch police officer flown to B.C. to testify in Amanda Todd ‘sextortion’ trial

Taking the stand in person, Dutch National Police Lt. Erik Verstraten, who was then with the child abuse investigation team, told the 12-member jury about two searches of the holiday home in the De Rosep bungalow park in Oisterwijk, about 100 kilometres south of Amsterdam.

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Ten officers participated in the first, four-hour search late on the night of Jan. 13. Verstraten told the court he and another officer returned the following afternoon to conduct a second, daylight search.

'I thought it was strange'

During the second search, Verstraten said he found a small cardboard box hidden inside a stereo system that was still in its original box. The stereo’s centre console had been unwrapped, but the speakers were still encased in plastic, he said.

“I thought it was strange the middle section of the stereo was opened while the speaker sets were still wrapped and sealed, so I took it out to see if there was anything in it,” he told the court.

“When I lifted it out of the box, I felt something moving inside it, so I looked through the sides of the stereo, the middle section, and I saw a beige carton box.”

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Click to play video: 'Amada Todd trial hears from Dutch police officer' Amada Todd trial hears from Dutch police officer
Amada Todd trial hears from Dutch police officer – Jun 13, 2022

Inside was Coban’s Dutch passport, two white envelopes with €10,000 in cash — the equivalent of $13,500 — and a computer hard drive, the court heard.

During the first search, police also seized a computer setup from one of the cabin’s bedrooms as well as the contents of a shredder, he testified.

The Crown walked Verstraten through a series of police photographs of the residence, showing messy kitchen, floors and bedrooms cluttered with boxes. Several photographs showed a guitar under a bed, along with a cash-filled pouch police had discovered inside of it.

While the photos were shown in open court, they are not being released to media at this time.

The court previously heard Coban was arrested at a home in the De Rosep park, along with evidence from another Dutch witness regarding a router used to connect to the Internet at another nearby cabin.

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Verstraten said he was present for the investigation into the router, which was found in a cabin in a separate but adjoining bungalow park, about 30 to 40 metres from the cabin where Coban’s passport was discovered.

Under cross examination, Verstraten agreed that the bungalow where Coban was arrested was constructed of brick and surrounded by trees and bushes.

He said Coban’s bungalow was visible from the cabin where the router was located, but said officers drove between the two locations.

Coban a 'computer guy' who lived alone: Childhood friend

By video link, the court also heard Tuesday from one of Coban’s childhood friends.

Through a translator, Adem Gokcinar testified that he lost touch with Coban around 2004, but began to spend time with him again in 2011. After the two reconnected, he said they would visit for about four hours every week, with half of those visits at Coban’s residence.

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Gokcinar testified he had helped Coban move from a different bungalow park into the cabin in the De Rosep park several months before his arrest.

He added that Coban told him he had lived in the De Rosep park at some point previously, but had been forced to move out because it only allowed tenants to stay for one year at a time.

Read more: Dutch cybercrime expert testifies on devices allegedly used to ‘sextort’ Amanda Todd

Coban lived alone, and aside from the occasional visit that included Gokcinar’s brother, he never saw Coban with anyone else, Gokcinar testified.

Coban acquired a desktop computer to supplement his laptop after he moved into the De Rocep cabin, Gokcinar told the court. He also said Coban owned two classical guitars.

Click to play video: 'Dutch police inspector testifies at trial of man accused in sextortion of 15-year-old Amanda Todd' Dutch police inspector testifies at trial of man accused in sextortion of 15-year-old Amanda Todd
Dutch police inspector testifies at trial of man accused in sextortion of 15-year-old Amanda Todd – Jun 9, 2022

During cross examination, the defence’s line of questioning appeared designed to raise doubts about whether Coban was the only one spending time in the cabin.

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Responding to defence’s questions, Gokcinar told the court that Coban hated chocolate and did not like a messy home. As far as he knew, he said Coban could not speak, read or understand Spanish, Italian or Portuguese.

He confirmed Coban had two brothers who resembled him in height, build and eye colour, and who spoke with a similar accent. Gokcinar also agreed Coban was a “computer guy,” who had advertised his services repairing devices and replacing hard drives.

Read more: Dutch cybercrime expert testifies on devices allegedly used to ‘sextort’ Amanda Todd

The Crown alleges that between 2009 and 2012, Coban used 22 fake social media profiles in a concerted “sextortion” campaign against Todd.

Prosecutors have told the jury they will prove he obtained explicit images of the teen and used them to try to force her to perform pornographic shows for him via webcam, and that he sent explicit images of her to friends, family and school community.

The case hinges on the identity of her tormenter. The defence has argued there is no link between Coban and the extortionist.

Information can be manipulated on the Internet, the defence has argued, and there must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt about who sent the offending messages to Todd.

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The trial continues.

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