British Columbia

Defence lawyer in Amanda Todd cyberbullying case says sharing link is 'not child pornography'

Joseph Saulnier told the jury in Aydin Coban's B.C. Supreme Court trial there's evidence that a video titled "AmandaTodd.wmv'' was played on a device seized from his client's home, but it was not stored as a data file.

Video file titled 'AmandaTodd.wmv' was played on Aydin Coban's computer

A sketch of a man wearing glasses and having medium-length flowing hair.
Aydin Coban, shown here in an artist's court sketch, is on trial in B.C. Supreme Court charged with extortion, harassment and communication with a young person to commit a sexual offence. (Eurovision)

A defence lawyer for a Dutch man accused of harassment and extortion of  British Columbia teenager Amanda Todd says sharing a link is "not child pornography.''

Joseph Saulnier told the jury in Aydin Coban's B.C. Supreme Court trial there's evidence that a video titled "AmandaTodd.wmv'' was played on a device seized from his client's home, but it was not stored as a data file.

Coban has pleaded not guilty to extortion, harassment, communication with a young person to commit a sexual offence and possessing child pornography in relation to the Port Coquitlam, B.C., teen.

In closing arguments, Saulnier said the evidence doesn't support the existence of a data file of child pornography of the alleged victim on the digital devices seized by Dutch police.

Earlier in the trial, Crown attorney Marcel Daigle cited testimony from a Dutch officer who said a deleted video file called AmandaTodd.wmv'' had been played on one of the devices in December 2010, corresponding with a time when Todd was being actively harassed.

But Saulnier said the evidence "does not support the existence of a data file of child pornography on Amanda Todd.''

The video was sent out as a link, but there was nothing to show it was stored as data on the seized devices, Saulnier told the jury on the second day of his closing arguments.

"Can you look at this and be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of the possession of a data file of child pornography? No,'' he said.

Crown lawyer Louise Kenworthy wrapped up her closing arguments Tuesday, saying there was a "treasure trove of information'' linking Coban to the harassment and extortion of Todd.

However, Saulnier said Tuesday, "fragments'' of computer data cited by police cannot link the Dutch man to the harassment and extortion of Todd.

He told the jury that the identity of the person behind the messages and extortion cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Crown prosecutors allege Coban is behind over 20 anonymous online accounts that repeatedly harassed and extorted Todd for sexually explicit photos and videos.

On Wednesday, Saulnier argued that there was no evidence that definitively linked the online accounts.

Throughout the trial, the Crown has presented multiple pieces of evidence that include messages from anonymous accounts to Todd asking her to perform "sex shows" or the harasser would send explicit photos of Todd to her friends and family.

"I agree it's not a coincidence. This doesn't mean it's the same person," he told the jury.

The defence lawyer argued that differences in writing style and punctuation were evidence that different people could be behind the various accounts harassing Todd.

Saulnier also told the jury that various Facebook accounts that targeted Todd had operated on internet browsers that were not found on the seized devices.

"This is a significant hole in Crown's theory,'' he said. "This is actually evidence of people accessing these Facebook accounts from other devices, from other computers, evidence of other people using these Facebook accounts.''

There were no cookies from Facebook found on the seized devices, Saulnier said Wednesday, referring to pieces of data that websites use to track users and their preferences.

"Even if you manually or automatically delete your cookies for privacy, that [deleted] cookie, it goes to deleted space,'' he said.

"Finding a fragment doesn't mean that whoever had that device is the author of the message.''

Saulnier also argued that the devices seized in Coban's house didn't necessarily belong to him.

"My submission in the evidence was that he repaired computers. He was a computer guy,'' he told the jury. "It does make sense that Mr. Coban, if he's looking at someone else's device, he's going to connect it to something.''

All this evidence points to someone else and not Coban who was involved in the harassment and extortion of the teen, he said.

"For all of the counts, the Crown has not proven beyond a reasonable doubt Mr. Coban is the author of these messages. They have not proven beyond a reasonable doubt Mr. Coban committed these offences. I ask you to acquit Mr. Coban.''

Justice Martha Devlin is scheduled to give her final instructions to jury members on Friday before they begin deliberations.

With files from CBC News

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