Constables Dion Birtwistle and Markus Lueder took the stand Wednesday during the fourth week of the double murder trial for Oak Bay father Andrew Berry. (Keri Coles/News Staff)

Constables Dion Birtwistle and Markus Lueder took the stand Wednesday during the fourth week of the double murder trial for Oak Bay father Andrew Berry. (Keri Coles/News Staff)

Berry sisters murder trial: defence draws comparison to unsolved Vancouver Island slashing

Woman attacked in her home less than a kilometre away from Andrew Berry’s apartment

WARNING: This story contains disturbing details and graphic content.

The jury for the Supreme Court double murder trial of the Oak Bay father accused of killing his two young daughters on Christmas Day 2017, heard from two police constables Wednesday during the fourth week of the trial.

Constable Dion Birtwistle was first to take the stand. He testified that he arrived shortly after 6 p.m. on Christmas Day to Andrew Berry’s Beach Drive apartment, where Berry’s young daughters, four-year-old Aubrey and six-year-old Chloe were found dead and Berry was found seriously injured.

RELATED: Court hears paramedic feared for safety of first responders at Oak Bay murder scene

Birstwistle explained that part of his role that day was to get the unit numbers of the first ambulance attendants on scene so investigators could follow up with them.

He was also tasked with speaking to residents to get pertinent information about what had happened at the apartment.

In a task report, it was noted that one resident, Graham Bell, mentioned he saw two women earlier in the day looking into the windows of Berry’s apartment.

“The women did not appear to be distressed, but more trying to get the attention of whoever was inside,” said co-defence counsel Ben Lynskey, asking Birstwistle to confirm the resident’s statement in the report.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay Sgt. struggles through emotional testimony in double murder trial

At one point while at the apartment, Birstwistle went into the back parking lot to look for Andrew Berry’s car.

“I was unsure whether or not we had an outstanding vehicle that may have another victim in it or another scene or whether or not it had been removed,” said Birtwistle. “We were told on route that there were multiple victims in the suite.”

Consulting his notes from the night, Birtwistle testified that when he arrived on scene other police members were inside the apartment building and a male Oak Bay police officer in the doorway to Berry’s apartment said there was a male in the bedroom who may still have a knife.

Oak Bay Const. Markus Lueder took the stand next, testifying that he arrived at the Oak Bay Police Department at 7:40 p.m. on Christmas Day 2017. While not on shift, he had been called in by Oak Bay Sgt. Angus Wagnell.

“I was called at home on Christmas Day by Sgt.Wagnell who told me there had been a murder of two young sisters in Oak Bay and their father was injured and he asked if I could come and assist at the Oak Bay Police Department,” testified Lueder.

He described attending the apartment building during the days following the crime to provide assistance with scene containment. One of those jobs was to prevent foot traffic around Berry’s bedroom windows. The area was cordoned off with police tape.

“They did not want anybody looking into those windows,” said Lueder.

READ ALSO: Juror dismissed from Andrew Berry double murder trial

During cross-examination, defence counsel Kevin McCullough asked if Lueder had done scene containment previously.

“Particularly I want you to think about April 25, 2017. You know what I’m talking about right?” McCullough asked Lueder.

“Yes. The incident on the Esplanade,” said Lueder.

“That was a stabbing, an attack, of a woman in her home, where she was stabbed and slashed,” said McCullough, noting that is was less than a kilometer away from Andrew Berry’s apartment and similarly along the water.

“That’s correct,” said Lueder.

“We know that nobody has been arrested or charged for it, right?” said McCullough.

Lueder confirmed that the investigation is still ongoing.

RELATED: ‘Horrific attack’ in Oak Bay remains a mystery

When asked if he had, at any point, gone into Andrew Berry’s apartment, Lueder said he had not.

“Did you go in for a peek?” asked McCullough. Lueder confirmed he had not entered the unit and said he didn’t want to “see a peek.”

“You never saw any of the blood in the apartment, or the bodies or anything like that. Is that right?” asked McCullough. “You weren’t traumatized.”

“The reason they didn’t want foot traffic by those windows is because there was a thought that people could see inside the windows. There are blinds on the windows so if you are looking from a distance you couldn’t see a thing,” said Lueder. “I did look inside, real brief, to see if that was actually true, if you could look into the windows and into the room or not. I did see blood and I saw some blond hair. I turned my head, ‘I don’t need to see this.’”

Defence questioned Lueder about something he wrote in his notebook: murder suicide attempt. McCullough asked who told Lueder it was a murder suicide.

While he couldn’t remember who told him, it was framed as “likely what we were dealing with,” but Lueder stressed that it was not a conclusion.

McCullough spent an extensive amount of time questioning Lueder about who assigned him to go to the hospital to stay with Andrew Berry on the night of Dec. 25.

Lueder repeatedly responded that he could not remember who sent him. He became visibly exasperated when the same question continued to be asked over and over.

At 11 p.m. on Christmas Day, Deputy Chief Ray Bernoties called Lueder and directed him to leave the operating room area where Berry was receiving medical attention, making sure to have no contact with Berry, and told him to come back to the station.

Lueder expressed to a nurse at the hospital concerns that Berry might attempt to commit suicide in the hospital. He expressed the same thing to Detective Kathleen Murphy of the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit who he saw on his way out of the hospital that night.

“You didn’t express to a nurse or anyone at the hospital that there was an ongoing police investigation and Berry was a victim of an attack?” asked McCullough.

“I did not discuss any particulars of that file at the hospital,” said Lueder.

Court resumes 10 a.m. Thursday.


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

These storefronts on Trunk Road have been informed by the City of Duncan that they must change their addresses to Festubert Street. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Duncan business owners upset about being forced to change address

Owners say City of Duncan’s plan will hurt their business

The Cowichan Capitals traded defenceman Clark Webster to his hometown Summerside Western Capitals. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Hopeful Cowichan Capitals make flurry of deadline deals

Roster bolstered in case BCHL season gets go-ahead

Neurologist and medical educator Dr. Alexandre Henri-Bhargava, seen here speaking at the 2020 Breakfast to Remember in Victoria, will delve into the latest in dementia research during an interactive research event exclusively for attendees of this year’s virtual Breakfast. Access to the March 10 research event is included with the purchase of a Breakfast to Remember ticket. (Kevin Light Photography)
Blast off with Chris Hadfield at Alzheimer Society’s Breakfast to Remember in March

The Society hopes people in all corners of the province will make the most of this opportunity

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Duncan initiates pilot project to deal with graffiti

Project based on a successful one in Port Alberni

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

This was the scene outside North Saanich’s Parkland Secondary School after an attempted but unsuccessful break-and-enter into the school torched an ATM inside of it. Sidney/North Saanich RCMP did not make any arrests and currently lack suspects as the investigation continues. Members of the public who may have witnessed something or possess other information can contact police at (250) 656-3931 or to Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. (Submitted)
Money to burn: burglars torch North Saanich high school ATM

Police dogs searched the exterior and interior of the school after early morning break-and-enter

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

t
Province invests $2M in three Vancouver Island food hubs

Hub network provides shared-use processing facilities to small agri-businesses

Most Read