The murder trial of the Oak Bay father accused of killing his two young daughters on Christmas Day in 2017 is now in its fourth month. On Wednesday, his sister took the stand, testifying that the two had a close relationship growing up and remained in contact throughout adulthood.
“I was trying very hard to maintain a relationship with my brother that I wasn’t telling him what to do or being his keeper just his supporter,” she testified.
Berry’s sister’s name is under a publication ban but the RCMP officer was in Berry’s corner and described multiple occasions the sister was there to support her brother. When Berry faced charges of domestic abuse, he was not able to live in the family home with Sarah or the girls so he stayed with his sister. His sister testified she gave him advice and offered him to stay with her for as long as he needed.
She testified that Berry was very upset about not being able to see his girls while the court case was being resolved
“It was very upsetting. He was just sad, especially Aubrey since she was so young,” she said.
When Berry was facing allegations of inappropriately touching Aubrey he was not able to see the girls while the Ministry of Children and Family Services investigated.
During the investigation, Berry’s sister testified that MCFD suggested she come to Victoria and chaperone the girls with Berry so he could see them over Halloween.
“He was appreciative that I came down, we enjoyed Halloween that is what we did,” she testified.
The investigation later found the touching was not criminal in nature.
Throughout the messy separation and custody battle, Berry’s sister testified she thought he was doing good and holding it together. She told the court she was really impressed with how he handled himself during the separation proceedings since he could not afford a lawyer and had to represent himself.
She testified that she began to worry about his mental health when she found out through their parents that Berry had quit his job.
“For him to give up his job to me it was a very extreme decision and it concerned me because I didn’t understand why there was no discussion about it and I was worried,” she told the court.
She testified that’s when she reached out to the mental health community in Victoria to asses Berry’s well-being. But when they couldn’t find him, she went to see him.
“I just showed up didn’t give him advanced warning that I was coming I arrived late morning he was up, he was dressed he was in good spirits had gone out for a walk,” she testified.
That day she said she had a very long chat with her brother and he told her he had been very unhappy with his job for quite some time and he just couldn’t take it anymore and that is why he was leaving. She testified that was the first time Berry told her anything about being unhappy at work. He also told her he planned on taking out money from his pension to cover the costs of living while he got another job.
“I didn’t feel that was a good idea that was money for his retirement and it should stay there, I expressed my concerns about him leaving a job without having another job to go for first,” she testified.
She became emotional as she told the jury sobbing, during that chat it was the first time she told him she thought he was depressed. Fighting through tears she told the court he refused to get professional help.
“He was so opposed to talking to somebody else about his mental health to him he felt he was fine,” she testified.
“The one thing he agreed on is that he didn’t love himself anymore.”
She continued her testimony saying that while Berry refused to see a doctor he was willing to work out a plan to move forward and try and better himself. She also told the court that she bought her brother groceries on two separate occasions.
“He talked about not having money to buy food until his next paycheque so I bought him food,” she testified.
When Crown asked her if she had a relationship with Sarah Cotton she said no. When asked if there was any ill will, she explained in the past she felt that Sarah tried to put her in the middle and in light of the separation she told Sarah she did not want to communicate with her and only wanted to be there to support her brother.
Prosecutors read out a text exchange between Berry and his sister that took place just days before the girls were murdered. In that exchange, Berry’s sister expressed concerns about the hydro in his apartment being shut off and his possible eviction.
She asked if he could get the hydro restored in his apartment to which he replied: ” It takes time and money I have neither of them.”
Crown read several other text messages out loud to the court where she kept asking Berry how she could help.
“I will help you get help but only if you let me,” one of the messages read.
“I worry Andrew, you are my brother I love you,” read another.
She asked how long he had been without hydro and Berry replied three weeks. The text message exchange also showed she invited Berry to spend Christmas at her house with the girls but Berry avoided answering her.
“You can come stay with me while you have the girls over the holiday why won’t you answer these questions?” read another of the messages. He then replied that he didn’t know if he could afford the trip and he would call her later that day.
“Please do I’m worried and I want to help,” she replied.
Her testimony will continue on Thursday.
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