The trial of a Dutch man accused of extorting and harassing B.C. teen Amanda Todd before she took her own life heard from more witnesses from the Netherlands on Thursday, with prosecutors focusing on a phone number and computers seized from his cabin.
Aydin Coban, 43, has pleaded not guilty to five charges, including possession of child pornography, communication with a young person to commit a sexual offence and criminal harassment in the high-profile case.
Amanda Todd ‘sextortion’ focuses on hard drives seized from accused’s cabin
Todd died by suicide in 2012 at the age of 15. A few days earlier, she had uploaded a video that eventually went viral, in which she silently held up flashcards detailing incidents of online bullying and torment.
‘Operating system ‘crafted to be used by hackers’
The court heard Thursday afternoon from Marten Busstra, an expert in forensic digital investigation and a former member of the Dutch National Police child exploitation unit, who was present when Coban’s bungalow was searched.
Busstra described finding a laptop running an operating system known for probing network security vulnerabilities.
“The operating system Linux has many flavours, and this one turns out to be BackTrack, which is specifically crafted to be used by hackers for a living, like pen [penetration] testers who would use this specific tool with all the installed programs into the operating system to test all kinds of flaws in networks and such,” he said.
Dutch police officer testifies about items found in vacation home where Amanda Todd suspect was arrested
Busstra said an investigation of the machine found its user had recently run command tools which could “be used to misuse flaws in network devices,” and “gain access unauthorized” to Wi-Fi access points.
Plugged into the laptop was a USB stick with a number of files, including text documents he described as “like a manual” for using those command tools.
Busstra told the court he made a copy of the memory stored on a desktop computer in the same bedroom, and that he found a Wi-Fi adaptor and external antenna disconnected in an adjacent room.
Witnesses detail meeting, phone number
Earlier in the day, the court heard via video link from Karlijn Bakker and Antoinette Hannetine van der Linden, two Dutch women who had sought to rent an apartment in Rotterdam in May 2011.
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Both women described attending the unit and meeting a man named Jay with mid-length, dark hair and a “tinted” complexion, and reported receiving an identical phone number from him by email. Only van der Linden said she actually communicated with the man using the number.
Both women also described subsequent communications about the apartment in which they received a passport photo.
Both women agreed the photo was of the same man they had met at the unit.
Under cross-examination, van der Linden agreed she had described the man in a subsequent police report as having dark skin and appearing potentially “Indonesian.”
In its opening arguments, the Crown said it would link Coban to online accounts he allegedly used to harass Todd through a phone number he used to verify one of those social media profiles.
Defence also continued the cross-examination of Sabrina Hendry, a special investigative officer with the Dutch National Police’s child protection team who was flown to Canada to testify, and who was responsible for cataloguing evidence seized from Coban’s cabin.
Referencing crime scene photos, lawyer Trevor Martin questioned Hendry extensively on specific locations evidence had been located within the bungalow.
On Wednesday, Hendry described evidence seized from the scene, including a laptop, a desktop computer, a pair of smartphones and multiple hard drives. The court also heard from two Dutch witnesses who appeared by video link describing the process of repairing and imaging one of the drives.
Technical information is expected to play a major part in the Crown’s case against Coban.
The Crown alleges that between 2009 and 2012, Coban used a network of 22 fake social media profiles in a concerted “sextortion” campaign against the teen.
Hidden cash, passport, hard drive found in suspect’s cabin, Amanda Todd ‘sextortion’ trial hears
Prosecutors alleged Coban obtained intimate images of the teen flashing her breasts, then used them to try and extort her into performing sexual “shows” for him via webcam. Coban also sent the images to Todd’s family, friends and school community as a part of his harassment campaign, prosecutors allege.
The case hinges on the identity of Todd’s tormentor.
Coban’s lawyers say there is no link between him and the online extortionist.
The defence says information can be easily manipulated on the internet, and there must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt about who sent the offending messages to Todd.
Dutch police inspector testifies at trial of man accused in sextortion of 15-year-old Amanda Todd
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