When Andrew Berry’s sister visited her brother in hospital on the early morning of Dec. 26, 2017, she didn’t know if he was a victim or a suspect in the stabbing deaths of his young daughters.
“I hoped that I was going to hear something from the police, from him, something that said that he was a victim, too. I held out hope for a long time for that,” she testified Friday in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.
A court order prohibits publication of the sister’s name and the location of her employment. The jury has heard that she is a Vancouver Island RCMP officer.
Her 45-year-old brother has pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murders of his daughters, six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey, at his Beach Drive apartment on Christmas Day 2017.
“It’s like I’ve been hit by this wave and I can’t say I’d hold on to any of my thoughts or feelings. It’s just a big mess of emotion,” Berry’s sister said.
But defence lawyer Kevin McCullough said she knew full well Berry was a suspect when she went to Victoria General Hospital hours after the girls were killed.
“I’m not going to agree with that statement. I think I’ve done my best to describe how I was at that time,” she replied.
Berry’s sister told the defence lawyer she remembers asking the police whether he was going to be charged with first- or second-degree murder, but she didn’t remember when she asked the question.
Berry’s sister agreed with McCullough that she knew her phone was going to be seized as evidence.
“What I know is that my brother and his two daughters were all found in the same place and I’m one of the last people to speak to my brother,” she testified.
Berry’s sister said that she told RCMP Cpl. Shane Rappel, team commander of the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit, that her brother had not confessed to the crimes.
“On Jan. 2, do you remember why you would be reporting to Rappel that your brother hadn’t confessed in hospital?” asked McCullough.
“I’m assuming it’s because he hadn’t confessed in the hospital,” she replied.
That same day, Berry’s sister told Rappel that she felt she was between a rock and a hard place in her roles as a police officer and a sister.
“I don’t remember the exact conversation, but I do remember feeling conflicted,” she testified.
Earlier this week, Berry’s sister testified that when Berry resigned from his job at B.C. Ferries in May 2017, she held his pension money for him in her saving account. She recalled he asked her to withdraw $10,000 in cash, then another large amount she believes was $8,000, also in cash.
She testified that she withheld $3,000 of the money without his knowledge. Berry’s sister said she had heard that her parents had paid his rent in the past and she was concerned about his gambling.
Berry’s sister testified that her plan was that if she learned he was asking for money again, she would suggest using the money to pay rent or to get him some help. She thought her brother might be more amenable if she had money, the jury heard.
“It was money available for whatever,” she testified.
Around this time, Berry’s sister believed her brother had a job. He told her he had gone to three or four job interviews and been hired by B.C. Pension Corp.
However, she became concerned when she realized he didn’t have a government email. Berry told her he had a job with a company that was contracted to invest in the B.C. Pension Fund.
The jury has heard that Berry’s sister transferred more than $22,000 into the bank account of her brother’s neighbour Timo Musgrove at Berry’s request. Musgrove has testified that he, in turn, transferred more than $17,000 of that money into Berry’s Playnow online gambling account.
She testified that she was less concerned about sending him the money because she believed he had a source of income. Before she accepted the money, Berry’s sister said she made sure he did not owe his ex-wife Sarah Cotton any money.
The RCMP officer testified that after Berry separated from Cotton, the mother of his children, a court order was made to sell the house so Berry would have some equity.
The court ordered both of them to have their own real estate agent, but Cotton refused to sign, she recalled her brother telling her.
“So the house did not get sold and he was frustrated and angry about it.”
The jury has heard that Cotton applied to the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program and Berry’s wages at B.C. Ferries were being garnished in 2017.