A Dutch National Police digital investigator says he has discovered files containing the words “Amanda Todd” on a hard drive confiscated from the man on trial at the British Columbia Supreme Court for sexually extorting the 15-year-old girl.
Testimony Tuesday, Det. Frank van der Meulen said one of the files he found appeared to be attached to a 260-second video and possibly another linked to a Facebook profile.
The Dutch police officer’s evidence marks the first time in the past three weeks that a jury has heard evidence linking Amanda Todd’s name directly to the digital devices seized from the bungalow where Cobain was arrested in 2014.
Cuban has pleaded not guilty to five counts of molestation, child solicitation and possession of child pornography in connection with what prosecutors allege was a plot to extort sexual images from Amanda Todd.
Crown prosecutors allege that the 44-year-old used a range of fake social media accounts to follow his target online from 2009 to 2012, when she was between 12 and 15 years old.
Amanda Todd committed suicide in 2012. Cuban is not charged with her death.
References only, not the videos themselves
Van der Mullen said he and his child exploitation teammates examined the contents of Cobain’s devices in the months after they were confiscated from the bungalow as police launched a covert operation culminating in Cobain’s arrest on January 13, 2014.
He said the files referring to Amanda Todd’s name were found on a hard disk, in a database file that contains a list of 1,383 video files played on an app that acts as a media player.
Under cross-examination, van der Mullen agreed that the list contained only the references, not the videos themselves.
The officer who was in charge of the team putting in place hidden microphones, cameras and keyloggers to record computer activity in the residence in December 2013 took the podium in front of Van der Mullen – a continuation of the dramatic testimony that began on Monday afternoon.
Chief Inspectors. Joerie van Schijndel said he saw Cobain two or three times on surveillance video and in person in the weeks between the undercover operation and his arrest.
Dutch police used a nearby one-story house to keep an eye on the suspect, but van Scheigendel said the exact location is confidential, as are many of the technical aspects of the surveillance.
Van Schejndel led the two plainclothes officers who arrested Cobain.
In cross-examination, he told Cuban’s lawyers that they wanted to have the accused while he was on his computer so that they could access his devices when they were online.
But he said Cobain went to the bathroom first and apparently spotted the police officers silently entering the house, as he came out of the bathroom with an iron pipe.
Cobain cut his eye on the radiator during arrest.
Once the accused were handcuffed, Van Schijndel said the police blindfolded Cobain’s eye and covered his ears with headphones so he wouldn’t see police officers removing their surveillance equipment.
The inspector said that another officer involved in the operation ran into Kuban’s bedroom to keep his computer running so he wouldn’t sleep.
Pictures from a secret operation
Prosecutors showed jurors photos from both the covert operation and the search and seizure that followed Cuban’s arrest.
The images include images of various devices, including a laptop and computer monitor perched on a bare mattress, a cable leading to a computer tower, and a wire attached to an antenna on top of a set of boxes.
The Crown said in its opening statement that police in the Netherlands were instrumental in building a case regarding Amanda Todd’s cyberbullying. Cuban was extradited from the Netherlands to stand trial in British Columbia in 2020.
Outside court, Carol Todd – Amanda Todd’s mother – said after three weeks of technical evidence about computers and digital forensics, she was thrilled to see van der Mullen present to the jury a direct link between her daughter and the computers seized during Cobain’s arrest.
“It was a relief that there is now concrete evidence that the police have found that they have linked Amanda’s name to Mr. Cuban’s hard drives,” she said.
“I hope there is more to come.”
‘heartbreaking to hear’
Carol Todd attended every day of Cobain’s trial, sitting in the back of the courtroom, a few meters from the prisoner’s chest where the accused sits with his back to her.
Todd has become an international voice against cyberbullying in the wake of her daughter’s death and the viral impact of a video that Amanda Todd recorded before her death detailing her struggles.
Even as Cuban’s trial begins in a British Columbia courtroom, the story of a Winnipeg teen who committed suicide after being sexually assaulted has made national headlines.
According to his parents, Daniel Linz was a normal, happy 17-year-old even before a request for a message from what appeared to be an attractive young woman on Snapchat last February.
She forced him to send a scandalous photo, and in minutes he was blackmailed. He killed himself hours later.
Carol Todd said she has been in contact with the Lintz family.
“It’s sad to hear that, especially when the boy just came home and told his parents that they had just received a presentation on Amanda Todd’s story,” she said.
“And that young man may not have heard the message that if something happens, you should talk to someone else to help you with it.”
If you or someone you know is struggling, here’s where to get help:
This guide from the Center for Addiction and Mental Health shows how to talk about suicide with someone you worry about.