Oak Bay child killer Andrew Berry sentenced to life, no parole for 22 years
VICTORIA -- Oak Bay child killer Andrew Berry has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 22 years for the murders of his daughters Aubrey, 4, and Chloe, 6.
Berry, wearing shackles and a red tracksuit, sat expressionless in the prisoner's box as the decision was read Thursday.
The Oak Bay father was convicted on two counts of second-degree murder in September.
Second-degree murder brings an automatic life sentence, but Justice Miriam Gropper had to determine Berry's parole eligibility and whether he would serve time for the murders consecutively or concurrently.
On Thursday, Gropper ruled Berry will serve the sentences concurrently with no parole eligibility for 22 years.
The Crown had asked the judge to sentence Berry to serve 21 to 24 years before being eligible for parole, while his lawyer asked for 15 to 20 years.
The judge said the murders on Christmas Day 2017 were motivated by Berry's desire to keep the girls from their mother. During his trial, Berry claimed he and the girls were attacked because he owed money to a loan shark.
“The girls were killed in their own beds, in their own home, where they had every expectation to be safe,” Gropper said.
The girls' mother, Sarah Cotton, told the sentencing hearing this week that she's been living a nightmare of profound pain and sadness.
Cotton issued a statement after the decision was read Thursday, saying "no length of sentence" is appropriate for the crimes Berry committed.
"I have lost the life that I loved and knew, and I do not believe that Andrew, who has shown no remorse and a complete disregard for the lives of our daughters, should ever get a second chance," Cotton said.
"I believe the family law system and the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) failed us leading up to the girls’ deaths. I did everything in my power to keep my children safe. However my concerns made to MCFD about my children’s wellbeing in their father’s care and Andrew’s mental health fell on deaf ears."
Cotton also thanked police, the Crown prosecutors, the community of Oak Bay and first responders for their “strength, bravery, courage and sensitivity throughout this horrific tragedy.”
The murder trial heard that each girl had been stabbed dozens of times and left on their beds in Berry's Beach Drive apartment.
He was found unconscious in the bathtub, suffering stab wounds to his neck and throat.
First responders who had been at the scene of the murders filled the Victoria courtroom Thursday. Many wept as the judge read aloud graphic details of the murders.
Berry asks for new trial
Berry immediately filed a notice to appeal both his sentence and the murder convictions.
In asking for a new trial, Berry cited 10 reasons his conviction should be overturned and one reason his sentence should be dismissed.
Through his lawyer, Berry said the trial judge erred in prohibiting the cross-examination of some Crown witnesses and failed to explain to the jury the difference between murder and manslaughter.
He argued his sentence should be overturned because the period of parole ineligibility is "excessive and unfit."