Friend of Amanda Todd testifies he reported explicit photo on Facebook to police |

Warning: This story contains details that may disturb readers. Discretion is advised. 

A friend of Amanda Todd testified at the trial of her accused online tormenter Tuesday that she called police after finding a topless photo of the teenage girl online.

Aydin Coban, a citizen of the Netherlands, is accused of harassing and extorting Todd before she took her own life in 2012, using nearly two dozen online accounts. He has pleaded not guilty.

Crown has said it will prove Coban was the mastermind behind the various social media profiles using a combination of technical information and the content of the messages themselves.

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Prosecutors called six witnesses to the stand Tuesday, including 24-year-old James Bennett, who testified that he was 13 when the topless photo of Todd appeared on various Facebook profiles, including his.

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Bennett told the court he deleted the photo from his Facebook page and called police. He said he then made a post asking others to delete the photo and report it as well.

According to his testimony, the photo was posted by a Facebook user by the name of Austin Collins.

When Crown asked Bennett if he knew anyone by that name, he said he didn’t personally, but said they were friends on Facebook. He explained he wasn’t particularly selective about who he was Facebook friends with at the time.

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Crown alleges Coban was behind the Austin Collins account and 21 others that he used to sexually blackmail Todd and send explicit images of the teen to her friends and family between 2009 and 2012.

The defence did not cross-examine Bennett.

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Asked outside B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver after his testimony why he felt compelled to report the image, Bennett said he didn’t want to see it online.

“It felt like the right thing to do,” he told Global News. “It was child pornography, it was disturbing. I didn’t want those images to be shared with my friend.”

Bennett added it was “infuriating” to find out at the trial that he was the only one who reported the image to police at the time.

“I was expecting there to be a group of us in there,” he said.

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Carol Todd, Amanda’s mother, praised Bennett’s actions outside the court after meeting him for the first time Tuesday.

“For a 13-year-old to be so wise and to do that … it warms my heart that he did this,” she said.

“We have to talk to our kids about what is right, and it was the right thing to do to have it taken down.”

The trial on Tuesday also heard from three RCMP officers who were called to investigate the online harassment complaint back in 2011, as well as a former vice-principal at the school Amanda attended who told the court she helped to support the 15-year-old.

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Coban has pleaded not guilty to five charges, including possession of child pornography, extortion, criminal harassment and communication with a young person to commit a sexual offence.

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Defence has yet to give its opening argument. Coban’s lawyer, Joseph Saulnier, has previously said that while there is no question Todd was the victim of crimes, the matter at trial is who was responsible for the messages.

Defence maintains there is no link between Coban and the online extortionist, and that Crown needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt who actually sent the messages Todd received.

Not long before her death in 2012, 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.

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The trial is expected to last three more weeks.

— with files from Simon Little

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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