Crown cross-examines Oak Bay father accused of killing daughters

An Oak Bay man accused of killing his two children on Christmas Day 2017 tried to explain Friday why he never told anyone a loan shark named Paul was involved in their murders.

Andrew Berry took the stand for a third day at the Vancouver Law Courts on Friday. Berry has pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murders of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey at his Beach Drive apartment.

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In testimony this week, Berry has said that he was attacked in his bedroom on Dec. 25, 2017, and that when he regained consciousness, he discovered  Chloe dead in her bed. He said he went to the kitchen, where he was attacked again. The next thing he remembers is waking up in the bathtub.

Berry testified that he owed $25,000 to a loan shark named Paul and that he was asked by him to store two packages in his apartment. Berry also said he had to give two men working for the loan shark a spare set of keys to his apartment, and that a rock was thrown through his window as a “message” from Paul.

During cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Patrick Weir asked Berry why he never told his sister, who is an RCMP officer, about Paul and the money he owed him.

“Didn’t you want to say: ‘You’ve got it all wrong. How could I have killed my daughters?’ Didn’t you want to say that?” Weir asked.

“I needed a lawyer,” Berry replied. “I was under arrest.”

Berry told the jury that he learned from his sister, whose name is protected by a publication ban, to get a lawyer and not talk to police. Berry testified that she advised him to talk only to the hospital psychologist and said that she couldn’t help him anymore.

“Everybody, including her, thought that I did it,” Berry testified.

“Well, how do you know that?” Weir asked.

Berry recalled that the first time his sister visited him in hospital, she wrote him a note that said: “This will likely be the last time you see me. Tell me everything you need me to know.”

Berry testified that when he opened up his arms for a hug, his sister pulled back and said: “Andrew, I can’t even touch you right now.”

“When you have a whole hospital of people who won’t go near you, you have a guard watching you, you’ve heard you’re the one who’s killed his girls, the doctors have said you can’t leave the hospital, it’s clear you’re under arrest and under suspicion of killing your kids,” Berry said.

Weir peppered Berry with questions about Paul’s friends, girlfriends and what he looked and sounded like.

“I don’t know where you’re going with this,” Berry said with a smile.

“Did you appreciate that Paul would be somebody who had some information about what had happened to your girls?” Weir asked.

Berry agreed that he was concerned about Paul.

“He is the one who is responsible for this,” Berry testified. “He might want to finish the job. He might want to kill me.”

Weir noted that Berry had previously testified that he’d made arrangements to repay Paul in January or February 2018 when he had access to his RRSP money. Berry had also agreed to store packages of illegal drugs in his apartment for Paul and had given his “henchmen” a spare set of keys to the apartment.

“You were doing your part,” Weir said. “So why would Paul be the person to do this — come get his own bag and kill your daughters? Can you think of any reason why that makes sense?”

“None of this makes sense,” Berry replied, adding that he didn’t know Paul or what his possible motivations were.

“All I know is there’s a bag of drugs in that room and I don’t want to have anything to do with it.”

Berry testified that he asked to be in protective custody because he feared Paul.

Weir asked him why.

“Because I don’t know who is responsible,” Berry said. “Paul would send people over. Paul had people working for him. I didn’t know the extent of Paul’s dealing. At one point, he was just a guy in a casino. Now he’s expanded out to so much more.”

During his direct testimony, Berry said his sister visited him three times in the jail but stopping when he told her he was innocent.

“How did she made you feel during those visits?” asked defence lawyer Kevin McCullough.

“She thought I was guilty and she was trying to find out what was happening between me and the psychologist at the jail,” Berry testified. “On our last visit, when she found out I wasn’t going to act crazy or do the NCRMD defence [not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder], that I was innocent, she stopped coming.”

“Did you tell your sister you were innocent?” asked McCullough.

“Yes,” Berry replied.

“Did you ever see your sister after that?”

“No.”

Berry testified that when his sister visited him in hospital, it was clear she thought he had killed the children. She asked him if he wanted to live, and he replied that he didn’t know.

McCullough asked him how his sister made him feel when she visited him in hospital “Not well,” Berry replied. “She made me feel guilty. She made me feel abandoned. I just wanted solitude at that point, I didn’t want anything else.”

On the stand Thursday, Berry said he had no memory of saying “kill me” to first responders.

Berry said he remembered a doctor coming into his room and explaining that he was detained under the Mental Health Act because he was at risk of harming himself and others.

“How did you feel when the doctor said that to you?” McCullough asked.

“He thought I killed the kids and tried to commit suicide and I was under arrest. … I wanted to die,” Berry said.

“Why?” McCullough asked.

“There was nothing left. The girls were dead and I was chained to a bed. I just wanted to die.”

Berry said he felt like shouting when he overheard the first responders say he had killed his kids.

During his stay in hospital, no one asked him if he killed the girls and no one offered condolences, he said.

“They treated my injuries but they treated me like I had just killed two little girls. … I just wanted to die.”

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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