Andrew Berry murder trial to take hiatus before closing submissions

A B.C. Supreme Court jury will return to court on Sept. 17 to hear closing submissions in the trial of an Oak Bay man accused of murdering his two young daughters.

Andrew Berry has pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murders of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey on Christmas Day 2017. The two girls were stabbed and killed in his Beach Drive apartment.

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Berry, 45, was found naked and seriously injured in the bathtub.

On Wednesday, after the defence called its last witness, Justice Miriam Gropper told the jury they would have a hiatus because one of the jurors is not available from Sept. 12 to 16.

The jury will return to court on Sept. 17 to hear closing submissions from the defence and the Crown.

“They will review the evidence and explain why you should find Mr. Berry guilty or not guilty of either or both offences,” Gropper said.

These submissions will be followed by Gropper’s final instructions. The judge will explain the law and review some of the most important evidence. The jury will then retire to the jury room and remain sequestered until they reach a verdict.

The Crown’s theory is that Berry planned to kill himself, not his two young daughters, on Christmas morning, but he lost his temper with Chloe, hit her on the head with a baseball bat and realized there was no turning back. He stabbed her, then went to Aubrey’s room where she was sleeping, stabbed her, then tried to kill himself.

Berry took the stand in his own defence, telling the jury that he did not kill his daughters and he did not try to commit suicide on Christmas Day 2017.

He testified that in 2017 he borrowed $10,000 from a loan shark named Paul who became frustrated when he was unable to repay him. The debt increased to $25,000 and Berry said he was incredibly stressed at his financial situation.

A rock was thrown through his window and two men associated with the loan shark visited him in his home. Twice, Berry was asked to store packages in his apartment that he assumed contained illegal drugs. He was also asked to hand over a spare set of keys to the apartment.

Berry testified that he was brutally attacked in his apartment and that and when he regained consciousness, he discovered Chloe and Aubrey had been killed.

The defence called Graham Bell to testify. Bell, who lived across the street from Berry’s apartment, said that on Dec. 25. 2017 he saw two women knocking on the front window of the apartment.

“It’s normally a very quiet area and on this particular day I noticed a couple of women approach the building and go over to the window,” said Bell.

“They knocked on the window, apparently to try and rouse somebody or get someone’s attention inside, which was unusual to see that kind of activity on the street.”

Bell told defence lawyer Kevin McCullough that he also saw the women peering under the blinds in an attempt to see into the apartment while they knocked on the window. The two women then walked around the side of the building.

Bell said he could see them rapping on the windows to try to get someone’s attention that they were outside. He said it was harder to tell but they appeared to be trying to peer in the windows.

The defence also called Michael Januszkiewicz, a nurse at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, who looked after Berry on Jan. 3, 2018. Januszkiewicz said security was present in the vicinity of the room.

The nurse testified that Berry’s sister asked him if she could cut her brother’s hair. Januszkiewicz told her it was up to the patient.

When Berry indicated he didn’t want to have his hair cut, his sister respected that, Januszkiewicz agreed with prosecutor Clare Jennings.

Clare Bartlett, a cleaner with Victoria Independent Cleaning Services, also testified for the defence. Bartlett testified that she had been in Berry’s apartment on Dec. 19, 2017, when the smoke alarm was tested.

McCullough asked her about the state of the apartment.

Bartlett replied that it was clean, it wasn’t trashed and it didn’t smell horrible.

“There wasn’t garbage all over the place,” said Bartlett, who had been in the apartment twice before during previous fire alarm inspections.

Bartlett testified that she opened the fridge door and there wasn’t much in it. “It seemed pretty empty,” Bartlett testified.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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