The public is getting its first look at the Dutch bungalow where accused “sextortionist” Aydin Coban was arrested eight years ago.
Coban is currently standing trial at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. He 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.
Prosecutors allege he used nearly two dozen fake online accounts to harass and sexually blackmail Amanda Todd over four years, before she took her own life at age 15 in 2012.
The case hinges on the identity of what Crown has described as the “sextortionist.” Coban’s lawyer maintains there is no link between his client and the online extortionist, and the Crown needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt who actually sent the messages Todd received.
Testimony over the past two weeks has focused heavily on the Oisterwijk bungalow where Coban was arrested in 2014, along with the computers, hard drives and USB sticks police seized from the unit.
Evidence released by the courts this week now allows the public to view what jurors have seen.
The court has heard that Coban was arrested in bungalow 55 at the De Rosep holiday park — a subdivision of rental cabins — during an evening raid by undercover police officers on Jan. 13, 2014.
Investigators had covertly entered the property on three days the month prior, testified Dutch National Police Chief Inspector Joerie van Scheijndel.
During that operation, they installed microphones, cameras and keylogging software on his computers, the court heard.
The court also heard testimony that, following an IP address connected to the case, police investigated a Wi-Fi router used to connect to the Internet at another cabin in an adjacent holiday park.
Dutch National Police Lt. Erik Verstraten testified the two cabins were between 30 to 40 metres apart.
However, Coban’s lawyer has sought to raise doubts about whether the router could have been accessed from the cabin where his client was arrested, focusing on the distance between the cabins, along with trees and shrubs seen in the photos and the brick construction of the bungalow.
A Dutch digital forensics expert agreed under cross examination that those variables could affect Wi-Fi connectivity.
The court heard that Coban grabbed a metal pipe when he apparently saw undercover officers enter the cabin via a reflection in the bathroom mirror.
It also heard Coban suffered a cut above his right eye as officers subdued him on the ground. Van Scheijndel testified Monday that police blindfolded Coban and covered his ears with headphones after he was handcuffed, and how officers removed the surveillance devices before beginning a search of the property.
These photos were taken during a nighttime search of the bungalow on Jan. 13 after Coban’s arrest. Police returned the following day to conduct a daylight search, the court heard.
During those searches, police located a desktop computer, two laptops, eight hard drives, numerous USB sticks and CDs, a disconnected Wi-Fi antenna, a webcam, and a USB microphone. They also found a passport and other identification in Coban’s name, as well as cash and other items, according to an inventory entered as evidence in the case.
Photos from the search show a cluttered, messy unit with items stacked on unused beds or strewn about on the floor — a fact the defence appears to have seized on.
Under cross examination, a childhood friend of Coban’s agreed the accused was a neat person who did not like a messy home.
Technical information is expected to play a major part in the Crown’s case against Coban.
The court heard that police attempted a “silent entry” in the bungalow at a time when Coban was known to be home, in an effort to gain access to computers while they were still on and not in sleep-mode.
In the cabin’s “master bedroom,” police located a desktop and laptop computer, both of which were powered on, the court heard.
Marten Busstra, an expert in forensic digital investigation and a former member of the Dutch National Police child exploitation unit, testified extensively on the steps police took while conducting so-called “live forensics,” of devices that were still in operation.
Busstra also testified that the operating system on the laptop, a “flavour” of Linux called BackTrack, is specifically designed for hackers and penetration testers seeking to test flaws in network security, and that the computer had recently run command tools, which could “be used to misuse flaws in network devices,” and “gain access unauthorized” to Wi-Fi access points.
Detective Frank van der Molen, a digital forensic investigator with the Dutch National Police testified about finding a video “playlist” on one of the hard drives seized from the bungalow, which contained file names and directories with the name “Amanda Todd.”
Under cross examination, he agreed he did not find any actual videos of Amanda Todd on any of the equipment he examined.
Some of the photo evidence released this week relates to cash and other items police said they found hidden in the bungalow.
Verstraten testified that police found cash in a pouch hidden inside a guitar underneath a bed in the bungalow. He also described discovering a small cardboard box, hidden inside the centre console of a stereo system that was still inside its box when police returned for the daylight search.
Inside the small box was a Dutch passport in Coban’s name, a hard drive and €10,000 (C$13,690) cash, the court heard.
The trial is now in its third of seven scheduled weeks, with the Crown continuing to work its way through a long list of witnesses, many of them from the Netherlands, appearing both in-person and by video link.
The Amanda Todd case drew international attention after the teen became a symbol in the fight against cyberbullying.
Not long before her death, she posted a video to YouTube chronicling her ordeal, which gained worldwide attention and became a rallying cry against cyberbullying. In the video, Todd silently held up a series of flashcards describing the torment she endured.
The teen described how someone in an online chatroom asked her to expose her breasts, and how she later received messages from a man threatening to release intimate photos of her if she didn’t “put on a show” for him.
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