Oak Bay man takes stand at trial, denies killing daughters and attempting suicide
Published Wednesday, August 21, 2019 10:40AM PDT Last Updated Wednesday, August 21, 2019 6:47PM PDT
An Oak Bay man accused of killing his two little girls on Christmas Day 2017 is testifying in his own defence at his murder trial.
Andrew Berry is charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey. He has pleaded not guilty.
A jury has already heard the children were stabbed to death on Christmas Day 2017 in their father's Oak Bay apartment and that he was found injured in the tub.
Berry told court he had a happy life with the two girls.
He says Chloe was outgoing, while Aubrey was shy.
Berry testified that he owed loan sharks thousands of dollars and he was attacked in the apartment on the day the girls were killed.
The jury has already heard how police found a note at the scene addressed to Berry's sister, detailing grievances with relatives and the girls' mother. The note called them “factors.”
“Betrayed, bullied, and miscast I set out to leave with the kids,” the letter read. “But I thought it better for myself and kids to escape.”
The note contained Berry's passwords and banking information.
In his opening statement, defence lawyer Kevin McCullough said Berry owed thousands of dollars in gambling debts and that, as part of his arrangement to repay them, Berry had agreed to let a loan shark keep a package in his apartment and gave the loan shark a spare key.
Berry is expected to testify that he played with his daughters in the snow for hours on Christmas morning. He alleges that when they returned to the apartment in the afternoon, he was attacked in the bathroom and knocked unconscious.
A pathologist who testified last week said the little girls suffered multiple stab wounds. She told the court Chloe also had blunt force trauma injuries to her head. The jury has heard testimony that the little girls were found in their beds.
The court also heard Berry was found by emergency responders lying naked and injured in the bathtub. He was taken to hospital.
The girls' mother, Sarah Cotton, also took the stand earlier on at the trial of her former common-law partner. She testified about sharing custody with Berry after they separated, and told the jury: "Andrew did not communicate with me face to face."
She testified when she dropped the children off at Berry's place days before Christmas, she noticed the lights were out and remarked to her daughters that it looked like their father wasn't home.
Cotton told the court her daughter Chloe said he was there, and that, "We use flashlights. It's just like camping."
Cotton testified she became concerned Berry's power was off, but did not ask him about it at that moment.
"I didn't want to provoke him in front of the girls," she said.
Cotton told the court she later emailed Berry about her concerns regarding the hydro, but never got a response.
Cotton testified the girls were supposed to be returned to her on Christmas Day, but when they didn't appear, she tried in vain to contact Berry, conducting a search and then ultimately calling police.
In the Crown's opening statement in April, prosecutor Clare Jennings told the court Berry had animosity towards Cotton and his parents, and was in a "negative financial position."
The proceedings are also being streamed live to a Victoria courthouse for public viewing.
This is a developing news story. More updates to come...
CTV News Vancouver Island's Robert Buffam is covering the case live. Below are his tweets from court: