Andrew Berry found guilty of second-degree murder in daughters’ deaths in Oak Bay

Andrew Berry found guilty of second-degree murder in daughters' deaths in Oak Bay
WatchA jury found Andrew Berry guilty of second-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of his two daughters on Christmas Day in 2017.

A jury has found Andrew Berry guilty of two counts of second-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of his two daughters.

Four-year-old Aubrey Berry and six-year-old Chloe Berry were found dead in their father’s apartment in Oak Bay on Dec. 25, 2017. Berry pleaded not guilty to the two counts of second-degree murder.

The verdict also elicited a loud gasp of relief from a woman in the front row of the courtroom and she later embraced Crown prosecutors outside.

Berry hung his head and spoke quietly with his lawyers as the court took a short break.

Justice Miriam Gropper told jury members she knew they had been through a “great deal” in reaching their unanimous verdict before she gave them time to consider whether they wanted to make a recommendation on Berry’s eligibility for parole.

Second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence, but parole eligibility ranges from 10 to 25 years.

During a five-month trial, court that police found the two children dead on beds in separate bedrooms with multiple stab wounds.

Berry was found naked in the bathtub with stab wounds to his neck and throat, and he told first responders “Kill me” and “Leave me alone” when they arrived.

In his testimony, Berry told the jury that two men connected to a loan shark named Paul stored what he believed was a bag of drugs at his apartment in March 2017 in exchange for a delay in the repayment of a loan worth thousands of dollars.

Berry testified that he was attacked by a man with dark skin and hair, but the Crown argued his wounds were self-inflicted after a failed suicide attempt.

In his closing submission, Crown attorney Patrick Weir said Berry’s testimony was “like the plot from a bad low-budget movie.”

“Like everything in his life, he wouldn’t accept his responsibility,” he said. “There was no Paul … no dark-skinned child murderer… .”

Weir said the motive for the murders was Berry’s “long-simmering animosity” towards his estranged partner, Sarah Cotton, who he believed planned to seek an end to their joint custody of the girls after Christmas.

“If he couldn’t have them, Sarah couldn’t either,” he told the jury.

Defence lawyer Kevin McCullough said the Crown’s case was circumstantial and Berry was consistent in his denials.

McCullough also disputed the Crown’s claim that Berry attempted suicide after killing his daughters.

“The accused was subjected to the most rigorous cross-examination in this trial and his evidence, whether you like it or not, was eternally consistent,” McCullough said in his
closing arguments.

The jury started deliberating Tuesday and reached a unanimous decision Thursday evening.

Gropper will be asking the jury for their recommendation about how many years he needs to serve before being eligible for parole and whether or not he is to serve the sentence concurrent or consecutively. The jury members are allowed to give difference recommendations and can also choose not to give a recommendation.

The trial was taking place in Vancouver and being streamed in Victoria. The Victoria courthouse was packed Thursday with the girls’ mother, Sarah Cotton, family, friends, media and more. Cotton broke down in tears when the verdict was read.

A date for a sentencing hearing will be set on Oct. 9 in Victoria.

With files from The Canadian Press


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