British Columbia

'Are you making things up?': Crown grills B.C. dad on trial for daughters' murders

Crown prosecutors are accusing Andrew Berry of fabricating numerous elements of his story about the events leading up to the stabbing deaths of his two little girls.

Andrew Berry claims someone else killed little Chloe and Aubrey on Christmas Day 2017

Andrew Berry testified for a fifth day on Tuesday. He is charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of his daughters. (Jane Wolsak)

Crown prosecutors are accusing Andrew Berry of fabricating numerous elements of his story about the events leading up to the stabbing deaths of his two little girls.

Berry is accused of killing six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey on Christmas Day 2017, and then trying to kill himself.

He has pleaded not guilty, and is insisting that an unknown attacker with "dark skin and dark hair" stabbed him and knocked him unconscious in the hours before the homicides. He claims he was $25,000 in debt to a loan shark named Paul at the time the girls died.

Monday marked Berry's fourth day on the stand and his second being grilled under cross-examination by Crown lawyer Patrick Weir. 

Weir repeatedly asked him for more specifics about his version of events — details about people's appearances, how they dressed and their conversations with them.

At times, Weir suggested that Berry was simply making things up. It happened, for example, after Berry testified about handing $10,000 in cash to Paul's associates in the summer of 2017, as interest on his debt.

"I'm going to suggest to you that you did not give $10,000 to the henchmen on July 15 because there are no henchmen and there is no Paul," Weir said.

Berry insisted that the henchmen and Paul were, in fact, real.

Did Berry attempt suicide in November 2017?

It happened again when the subject turned to the suicide note that was found in Berry's apartment after the girls were killed. Berry has claimed the note was written in late November 2017, when he says he attempted suicide by hanging.

Under questioning by Weir, Berry acknowledged the attempt did not leave any physical marks on his body, and that he did not tell anybody about it afterwards.

The bodies of six-year-old Chloe Berry, left, and her four-year-old sister, Aubrey, were found in their father's Oak Bay, B.C., apartment on Christmas Day 2017. (Submitted)

Weir asked if the entire suicide attempt was a fabrication. 

"I'm going to suggest to you that the reason that you've come up with this story about attempting suicide… is that you have to explain that note you left," Weir charged.

"I did have to explain that note. And I have explained it," Berry replied.

Weir asked, then, why the note was still in Berry's apartment by Christmas, pointing out that six-year-old Chloe could have found it and read it.

"Why did you keep the note around after you turned things around?... Why didn't you throw it out?" Weir asked.

"I don't know," Berry said.

By the end of Monday's proceedings, Weir was being completely blunt about his doubts.

"Are you making things up?" he asked Berry at one point. 

First responders located Chloe and Aubrey's bodies in separate bedrooms. (CHEK News)

The subject was Berry's claim that he had been planning to travel to Vancouver on Dec. 8, 2017, to meet with Paul about an extension on repaying his debt. Berry has claimed he wasn't able to take the ferry because the girls' mother, Sarah Cotton, wasn't available to pick them up from school.

"Are you trying to blame Sarah for you not taking this trip and the girls getting killed as a result?" Weir asked.

Berry appeared to ignore the question as he thumbed through transcripts of his text messages with Cotton.

Weir asked if he'd heard the question. Berry replied that he'd heard, but the answer was no.

'I'm just not that bright'

Berry has alleged that as part of the agreement to pay back his gambling debt, he agreed to store two bags in his apartment in the months before the murders.

On the second occasion in August 2017, after Berry says he'd once again failed to meet a deadline for paying back the money, he's testified that he gave a set of spare keys to Paul's associates.

"You must have thought, I'm not going to be safe in my apartment now," Weir suggested Monday. "Did you think how this would affect the safety of the girls?"

Berry said the thought didn't occur to him.

"I'm just not that bright. I thought it was easy and it would be over," Berry said.

His testimony continues Monday afternoon.

About the Author

Bethany Lindsay

Journalist

Bethany Lindsay is a B.C. journalist with a focus on the courts, health, science and social justice issues. Questions or news tips? Get in touch at bethany.lindsay@cbc.ca or on Twitter through @bethanylindsay.