Loud crashing noises and thuds could be heard from Andrew Berry’s apartment the day his daughters were found dead in the residence, the neighbour living directly above him in the Oak Bay building testified Wednesday.
Vallie Travers told a Vancouver courtroom Wednesday she heard “a big thump or thud” at about 8 a.m. Christmas Day 2017.
“My assumption was that the kids were up. It wasn’t the usual noise that I heard when the girls got up — but it doesn’t have to be,” she said, during questioning from Crown prosecutor Patrick Weir.
The noises continued for roughly an hour. “It wasn’t non-stop or anything, but I would hear something really heavy,” she said.
At one point, she said she heard what she believed was an oak table in Berry’s apartment coming down — which shook the building.
“That floor, the walls, the windows,” she said. “It was loud and there was a movement in the building.”
Berry, 45, is accused of second-degree murder in the deaths of his daughters, four-year-old Aubrey Berry and six-year-old Chloe Berry. The girls were found dead in Berry’s apartment in Oak Bay on Dec. 25, 2017. Berry was discovered with wounds on his chest and neck in the apartment’s bathtub.
He’s pleaded not guilty.
Travers told court she did not hear the girls running, any footsteps, or any voices the morning she heard the noises, and — she clarified during cross-examination from Berry’s defence lawyer, Kevin McCullough — she did not hear any screaming.
Travers didn’t knock on Berry’s door. She instead visited the neighbour above her. She told court, during cross-examination, that, at the time, she felt she “was giving Andrew space,” but also noted she was “unnerved” and “seeking solace” by visiting the upstairs neighbour.
“In my head, I was imagining, ‘Are they building a fort? Playing a game with flashlights?’” she said, “but, at the same time, as I was kind of trying to stitch together possibilities… I also kind of knew and felt, ‘There’s something wrong. This is really loud.’”
She didn’t hear anything more — except some running water for a short time, she said — until a woman who identified herself as Berry’s mother rang her door buzzer. A police officer, who Travers let into the building, later visited the apartment complex — and left — before more police and emergency crews arrived.
She then heard a loud crash and, at one point, what she believed was Berry’s voice.
“There was all this yelling — ‘Get down! Get down! Get down!’” she said, “and I believe I heard Andrew’s voice — softer — in amongst that.”
She said she thought she heard Berry say something about the “girls.”
“I thought I heard the word ‘girls’ at the end.”
According to Travers, she and Berry “got on quite well” and sometimes visited for hours.
She detailed for court a few conversations between the pair — prior to Christmas Day 2017 — in which she said Berry discussed money issues and his separation with the girl’s mother.
Berry’s hydro had been shut off, she said. He had also been gambling, at one point telling Travers — according to her — he won “$100,000, or thereabouts,” but lost the money within a week.
He had also, at least twice, asked Travers for food — once because he said he didn’t have food for the girls’ lunches.
“He apologized to me: ‘I’m sorry for bothering you, Val. I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t important. I’m really, really sorry,’” Travers recalled.
McCullough, whose cross-examination of Travers began in the afternoon, focused on potential inconsistencies between Travers’ testimony and her statement to police. For instance, he asked if she mentioned hearing running water in her police statement.
The trial is being held at the Vancouver Law Courts. Cross-examination of Travers is expected to continue Thursday.