Andrew Berry arrives in a BC Sheriffs transport vehicle at the Victoria Courthouse for his sentencing hearing which is set to begin at 10 a.m. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Victoria father who killed daughters will be eligible for parole after 22 years

Andrew Berry get life sentence for the murders of Aubrey, 4, and Chloe, 6, on Christmas Day 2017

Andrew Berry will serve 22 years before he is eligible for parole. Berry was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of his two children, Aubrey and Chloe Berry, who were found stabbed to death in their own beds, in their own home on Christmas Day in 2017.

Outside the courthouse after sentencing, Oak Bay Deputy Police Chief Ray Bernoties said he feels nothing positive about the outcome.

“Nothing changed from two years ago on Christmas,” he said, fighting back tears. “Two innocent girls were taken from our community. And we’ll move on together.”

Chloe was six and Aubrey was four when they were killed. They loved to paint and their favourite colours were pink and purple. Chloe was missing some of her baby teeth and you could see gaps when she smiled. Aubrey would throw her head back when she laughed and wanted to travel the world.

Only whispers were heard Thursday morning when Berry entered the courtroom. He glanced briefly at the rows of people before his handcuffs were removed.

Berry was sentenced to life in prison for their deaths. His sentences will be served concurrently and he will be eligible for parole in 22 years.

RELATED: Mother of murdered Oak Bay girls gives tearful victim impact statement

Supreme Court Justice Miriam Gropper laid out her decision for the courtroom after a three-day sentencing hearing, discussing Berry’s motive and facts of the case. She noted Berry was not suffering from any mental or physical disabilities at the time of the murders.

She determined Berry harboured resentment and anger towards the girls’ mother, Sarah Cotton, since the couple separated in 2015. Berry testified he thought Cotton had taken intentional steps to “screw him over,” and that he wanted Cotton to blame herself.

Earlier this week, lawyers took turns addressing Gropper with suggested parole eligibility. Defence attorney Kevin McCullough asked for 15 to 20 years and made no mention of consecutive or concurrent sentencing.

Crown lawyer Patrick Weir asked for a sentence of 21 to 24 years for each count, served concurrently or at the same time.

On Monday, Gropper determined the facts of the case which she would base Berry’s sentence on. Crown counsel Clare Jennings called Berry’s alternate tale of owing money to a loan shark “completely fabricated” and “self-serving.”

Gropper agreed with Crown, stating that it “defies logic” that the loan shark would kill the children and leave Berry alive.

Evidence shown at trial determined the girls were killed where they were sleeping, in their own home, which Gropper said would be considered an aggravating factor. There was blood inside the suite, but no blood was found anywhere outside the suite.

Chloe was struck in the head with a pink toy bat, hard enough to fracture her skull and render her unconscious before she was stabbed 26 times. Aubrey was stabbed 32 times. Both of them had stab wounds to the front and back of their body. Berry was found naked, in a bathtub full of water with wounds to his neck, which the judge found to be self-inflicted.

It is unclear which girl was killed first.

Gropper stated that in both murders, Berry would have had to turn their bodies over at least twice and that he would have had to walk between their rooms. This shows it was not a spontaneous decision and that he would have seen the effects of his stabbing on the first child, before moving on to the next. It’s not known if he went back and forth between the girls, or at all.

A knife, similar to a set found in Berry’s kitchen, was found on the floor next to Aubrey’s body. A sheath for the same knife was found on the kitchen floor. Neither girl had defensive wounds.

On Tuesday, 13 victim impact statements and three community impact statements were read aloud in court.

Cotton issued a statement after the sentencing decision on Thursday.

“I believe the family law system and the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) failed us leading up to the girls’ deaths,” Cotton said in the statement. “I did everything in my power to keep my children safe. However, my concerns made to MCFD about my children’s wellbeing in their father’s care and Andrew’s mental health fell on deaf ears. Then my concerns that he had a personality disorder were not brought forward in any significant way through the family court process. I can only hope that changes will be made throughout the family law system so that tragedies such as ours do not happen again.”

Berry was at the end of his rope financially. He had gambled away his pension from a 15-year career at BC Ferries. His hydro had been cut off and he didn’t have money for food.

“Berry believed, for good reason, that he wouldn’t get the girls back when he handed them over to Sarah on Christmas Day,” said the judge.

RELATED: Story told by Oak Bay dad who killed daughters ‘defies logic,’ says judge at start of sentencing

Weir said Crown lawyers believe the sentence is appropriate, but recognize no outcome is enough.

“Of course he’s serving a life sentence so there is no guarantee he will ever get parole,” Weir said. “Even though it’s a long period of time, the fact is that it will do some good, but it will not, of course, remove the trauma that has been placed on this community by Mr. Berry’s actions, which will last far longer than the 22 years.”

In her statement, Cotton noted she is relieved this part of the judicial process is over and supported the judge’s decision, although she said there is no length of sentence appropriate for these crimes.

She thanked Crown prosecutors and the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit for their work.

“I want to thank my community of Oak Bay, especially all the first responders for their strength, bravery, courage and sensitivity throughout this horrific tragedy. This community, including my neighbours in Oak Bay, have held me up and embraced me the last two years – I have felt so protected … I hope to find a little bit of peace in the coming year and hope that we can all heal as we move forward.”

READ MORE: About this case


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

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring says the City Langford has lessons to share on how to deal with social issues. (File photo)
Langford could teach North Cowichan ways to deal with social issues: Siebring

Island city has only eight homeless people, according to last count

Potential designs for 85 Station St. were presented last month to the City of Duncan by the Portland-based architecture and planning firm Communitecture. (Courtesy of Communitecture)
City of Duncan considers applying for grant for Station Street project

New provincial program offers grants of up to $1 million

The bus is free to ride on Oct. 24 so voters can get to the polls to cast their ballots in the provincial election. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Free transit on Election Day in Cowichan

all day and on all regular routes

Painters Jim Tulip, Doug Mackenzie and Gary Henslowe were painting the exterior of the Duncan Butcher Shop and Apple Press printing shop, located between the Trans Canada Highway and Whistler Street, on Oct. 8 as part of neighbourhood painting project. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Duncan’s Whistler Street sees a fresh lick of paint in opioid battle

Group wants to help clean up community, one street at a time

Dinner shows in the Playbill Dining Room are keeping the Chemainus Theatre going during the pandemic. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Dinner events satisfying for the Chemainus Theatre and patrons

Small groups enjoy entertainment and the food in the Playbill Dining Room

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Sails down, masks up for Ron and Sherry Pryde, who completed a 119 day journey that was supposed to be 70 days. (Zoe Ducklow)
Coast Guard towed rudderless sailors to Port Hardy hours before a powerful storm

Rudderless for a month, the couple zigzagged most the way home with “a few donuts and lazy-eights”

Brody Peterson said he intends to dispute tickets issued by Grand Forks RCMP at his backyard “house warming” Saturday, Oct. 10. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Brody Peterson told The Gazette he intends to dispute tickets issued by Grand Forks RCMP at his backyard “house warming” Saturday, Oct. 10. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
‘This is a big outdoor space’: Grand Forks man behind backyard party to fight COVID tickets

Homeowner Brody Peterson said he’ll dispute tickets for refusing police instructions, alleged COVID violations

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

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Mail-in ballot from Elections BC (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
At least 26% of eligible voters have already cast their ballot, Elections BC says

Voters can cast a ballot until 8 p.m PST on Election Day

A 2018 decision to fly a rainbow flag ended up costing the City of Langley $62,000 in legal fees (Langley Advance Times file)
Human rights win in rainbow flag fight cost B.C. city $62,000

“Lengthy and involved” process provoked by complaint

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau and his family decide against trick-or-treating this year due to COVID

Adhering to local health authorities, Trudeau urges Canadians to do their part in following those guidelines

Most Read