Sisters four-year-old Aubrey Berry and six-year-old Chloe Berry were found dead in their father’s apartment in Oak Bay on Christmas Day 2017. Their father, Andrew Berry, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in their deaths. (Submitted photo)

Sister of Andrew Berry recalls urging brother to seek help

Sister of Oak Bay father accused in daughters’ deaths takes stand

Andrew Berry’s sister fought back tears, pausing to compose herself, as she recalled in court telling her brother that she felt he was depressed and needed to seek help.

“I think this would probably be the first time when I ever really directly told my brother that I thought he was depressed,” she testified Wednesday morning, recalling for the Vancouver courtroom a conversation she said she had with her brother in the spring of 2017 after learning he’d resigned from his job with BC Ferries.

“I told him it wasn’t surprising to me that he would be depressed because of everything that had happened, he had so many stressors and that I really felt that he needed to get help for this.”

Berry, who’s pleaded not guilty, 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 their father’s Oak Bay apartment on Dec. 25, 2017. Berry, who is 45, was discovered with wounds on his chest and neck in the apartment’s bathtub.

A court-ordered publication ban prevents publishing his sister’s first name and several other identifying factors.

READ ALSO: Girls’ father wouldn’t communicate, mother tells murder trial into their deaths

READ ALSO: Neighbour details hearing ‘thuds’ the day girls found dead in Oak Bay

The court previously heard Berry and his ex-partner, Sarah Cotton, were living with their two daughters as common-law spouses in September 2013 when Cotton called police alleging she had been assaulted by Berry.

A criminal assault charge against him did not proceed and he instead signed a peace bond that meant he was to have no contact with Cotton, except in relation to their daughters.

Berry’s sister, an RCMP officer, testified during questioning from Crown prosecutor Patrick Weir she was worried when she found out her brother had quit his job.

“I felt through the years of their separation and all the allegations and so forth that had happened that it was a lot of stress for my brother. I felt he was struggling, but at the same time he was keeping it together,” she said.

She said she first reached out to mental-health services when she heard her brother had left his job, but after learning they couldn’t find him, planned her own visit to his Oak Bay apartment.

It was her belief that the two most important things in Berry’s life were his children and his job.

“He had always really liked his job. For him to just give up his job, for me, was a very extreme decision.”

The conversation she recalled having with Berry the day she visited was long, she said. Berry, who was in “good spirits,” told her he’d been unhappy with his job for quite some time.

Berry, his sister testified, told her he intended to cash out a portion of his pension to cover living costs as he searched for a new job. She said she expressed concern with his plan and also brought up depression.

She felt he needed to seek help, she said. “He was just so opposed to talking to anybody about his mental health.”

The two found some middle ground discussing her own battle with depression.

“He wasn’t willing to see the doctor, but he was, however, willing to work out a plan on what he could do to… move forward,” Berry’s sister told court.

Weir, whose questioning continued in the afternoon, ended the day reading aloud text-message exchanges between phone numbers associated with Berry and his sister.

The exchanges occurred in the weeks and days before Christmas Day 2017, with the two discussing plans for the holiday, hydro at Berry’s apartment, potential eviction and the girls.

“I worry Andrew,” Weir read aloud one series of messages, all responses from the sister’s phone. “You are my brother. I love you. I let you live your life the way you want without judgment, but I also feel you don’t love yourself, which makes me worry. I don’t want you to end up homeless, and I’m scared that is where you’re headed.”

The trial, which began in April, is being held at the Vancouver Law Courts.

with files from The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

andrew berry

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Neighbours help Sidney woman mark 103rd birthday with surprise parade

Barbara Chorlton celebrates her ‘best birthday so far’

Racism is here too, say Victoria’s black community leaders

White Victorians have role to play in combatting systems of oppression, prejudice

Shortage of foreign workers costs Saanich Peninsula berry farmer thousands

Gobind Farms says hiring local has been difficult during pandemic

Pedestrian, cycling overpass now open at McKenzie Interchange

Bridge connects Portage Road, Galloping Goose Regional Trail

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

Most Read