In a courtroom in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, a 12-person jury declared Andrew Berry guilty on both counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of his two daughters.
Aubrey, 4, and Chloe, 6, were found murdered in their father’s Oak Bay apartment on Christmas Day in 2017. Berry was found naked and injured in his bathtub.
Kevin Murdoch, Oak Bay mayor, was in Vancouver for the UBCM convention but felt compelled to be in the courtroom when the verdict was being read Thursday evening. The room was full, yet quiet. As the verdict was read gasps could be heard.
“[This] doesn’t change anything, the girls are still gone … it’s hard to describe the emotions hearing the verdict – definitely relief,” says Murdoch.
Once the verdict was read and he had left the courthouse, Murdoch – feeling like someone had kicked him in the gut – called his daughter, who’s not far from the age of Chloe and Aubrey.
“I just said,’ I wanted to hear your voice’.”
Murdoch can recall hearing the sirens pass his home two Christmases ago, when the lives of so many changed. Chloe, in Grade One at Christ Church Cathedral School, had recently fallen in love with horseback riding. Aubrey was in her last year of preschool at St. Christopher’s Montessori School. Both were artistic, energetic and loved spending time at Willows Beach.
On Friday, Chirst Church school brought in counsellors once again, as it has previously, said head of school Stuart Hall.
“It’s been a long 21 months, we’re glad its over and relieved that its over,” Hall said. “The trial has been particularly hard. We were somewhat shocked at the level of detail that came out, and it was hard for everyone.
“We are now looking for ways to move ahead and to heal.”
That healing is a process that started with a candle-lit vigil on Dec. 30, 2017, that drew more than 2,000 to Willows Park. Locals gathered to share their shock, pain and support for the girls’ mother, Sarah Cotton.
Murdoch says he doesn’t know what comes next for the community, but that he wants Cotton to know the community is behind her.
“She’s got an amazing circle of friends and she’s so strong,” he says. “I hope this brings some level of closure, I know it won’t really, but I hope it does.”
Murdoch says he hopes this verdict brings some peace to the first responders who dealt with the case as well.
“Having to go through the trial, it’s been hard and I think this will help those people a lot – just knowing they went through all of that for something,” he says. “That there’s an outcome here.”
A close friend of Cotton told Black Press Media the verdict was a relief, adding it was a harder six months than anticipated.
– With files from Nina Grossman and Travis Paterson
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