VANCOUVER — A Crown lawyer says a Vancouver Island father stabbed his young daughters dozens of times before attempting to kill himself on Christmas Day in 2017.
Clare Jennings delivered her opening statement to a B.C. Supreme Court jury in Vancouver at the start of the trial for Andrew Berry, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder.
Jennings said the girls’ mother, Sarah Cotton, went to the Oak Bay police detachment on Dec. 25, 2017, after the father failed to return their daughters by noon as required by a court order.
She said police went to his apartment and found six-year-old Chloe Berry and four-year-old Aubrey Berry dead, lying on beds in separate bedrooms with multiple stab wounds to their bodies.
Jennings said police found Andrew Berry naked in the bathtub with a black eye and stab wounds to his neck and throat, and he told first responders, “Kill me,” and “Leave me alone.”
The defence has not yet had an opportunity to deliver its opening statement or to call witnesses.
Jennings said one police officer initially responded to the home and saw a girl dead on a bed before he closed the door and called for another officer to join him.
By the time that officer arrived, it was about 6 p.m., and she said the officers had to use flashlights because Berry’s power had been shut off. They saw blood on the floor and walls throughout the apartment, she said.
Firefighters and paramedics responded to provide first aid to Berry in the bathroom, where he asked them to kill him, Jennings told the jury. He was taken by ambulance to hospital.
Another paramedic assessed the two young girls in the bedrooms, where they were wearing bloody pyjamas, had bloody hair and were stiff and cold, she said.
“They had been deceased for some time.”
Berry was treated in hospital and underwent surgery to repair a serious injury to his throat or neck, she said.
While in hospital, he never once mentioned his daughters or asked how they were doing, Jennings said. Instead, she said, he had a series of complaints about his parents and the girls’ mother, and how they had treated him.
Forensic identification officers went to his apartment and photographed a knife on the floor near the bed where Chloe Berry was found, Jennings said.
They also found a note on Andrew Berry’s living room table addressed to his sister, in which he also sets out a number of complaints about his parents and Cotton, she added.
She said the jury will hear that an autopsy found Chloe Berry was struck in the head at least once, hard enough to fracture her skull, and she was stabbed 26 times in her chest, back, arms and wrists. Aubrey Berry was stabbed 32 times, also in her chest, back arms and wrists, Jennings said.
Some stab wounds were inflicted before the girls died and some were inflicted after, she said.
Jennings also said a neighbour will testify about hearing a loud noise from Andrew Berry’s apartment around 8 a.m. on Christmas Day. Neither of his daughters was seen or heard from at all that day, she added.
Jennings said a court order in May 2017 set out the parenting schedule between the two parents, with Cotton taking custody 60 per cent of the time and Berry the remaining 40 per cent.
Also in May 2017, Berry quit his job with BC Ferries. He struggled financially and by December his power had been shut off and he was due to be evicted because he was behind on rent payments, the Crown attorney said.
Laura Kane, The Canadian Press