Chief Justice defends judge in Berry custody case

In wake of murders, Justice Gray faces criticism for granting Berry access to girls on Christmas Eve

In the wake of the Christmas Day double homicide of Chloe Berry, 6, and Aubrey Berry, 4, criticism has arisen around Justice Victoria Gray’s decision to grant the girls’ father, now charged with their murders, the right to have the girls visit him on Christmas Eve.

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson spoke up yesterday in defence of Gray in an interview with Global News. He reportedly didn’t think evidence brought before the judge in a 2016 custody trial could have suggested the father was likely to commit the crime — if in fact he did. The criticism of the judge that followed the tragedy is unfair in his opinion.

Hinkson also mentioned that Justice Gray was not responsible for assessing Berry’s fitness to visit with his girls, but instead to figure out the logistical issues around shared custody.

While the Chief Justice declined further comment, Oak Bay News reached out to Family Law Mediator and Arbitrator, Trudi Brown. Brown has not represented either party, but is familiar with the case.

“I think the Chief was saying all of the right things — these are not easy decisions and there was no evidence that (Berry) was a danger,” said Brown. “I can tell you that it appears — from my read of the court decision in May 2017 — that hindsight is playing a big role in the responses.”

Custody decisions are perhaps the hardest for judges, according to Brown, as they are faced with evidence from both parties that conflicts. There are seldom third parties who can substantiate the allegations made by either side.

“It would appear that the father had some serious issues,” said Brown. “Which may have grown worse after the decision and long after the judge had seen him. He may have been able to hide those issues from the wife and other people.”

RELATED: Counsel stresses presumption of innocence in Oak Bay murder case

“In this case, the parties did all the right things to start — mediation, use of divorce coaches, and eventually reaching agreements. The mother had some serious concerns about the father’s care of the children, and those were aired at court, but she did not oppose him having the girls overnight, so long as it was not more than one night at a time so that she could monitor how the children were doing,” said Brown. “The father wanted week on, week off parenting and that was not granted by the court.”

On Christmas Day, Chloe and Aubrey were in the care of their father at his apartment on the corner of Beach Drive and Goodwin Street. The children were supposed to go home to their mother’s house on Christmas afternoon but didn’t arrive. Their mother, Sarah Cotton, contacted Oak Bay police who responded to Berry’s apartment and found the bodies of the two girls.

Andrew Berry was found in the apartment with them, suffering from what are believed to be self-inflicted injuries, and was taken to hospital. Berry was then arrested and charged upon release.

He has now secured counsel and will be appearing in court again on Feb.22.


 

keri.coles@oakbaynews.com

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

Just Posted

VIDEO: SAR reinforcements from up Island arrive Sunday to help search for Ben Kilmer

Family, RCMP ‘extremely happy’ with the search effort so far, search manager tells volunteers

Good Samaritan helps extinguish car fire in Ladysmith

A woman was behind the wheel of a Chevy Impala on a… Continue reading

Is Steve Nash Vancouver Island’s best athlete of all-time?

As Captain Canada gets ready to enter basketball’s Hall of Fame it’s time to debate his legacy

Who is Vancouver Island’s greatest athlete ever?

We want to know, you get to choose in a 64-athlete tournament bracket

More mural unveilings in Chemainus Saturday

Festival begins at Ace Hardware on Chemainus Road

Winnipeg’s JP Hoe performs in Ladysmith

Six-time Western Canada Music Award nominee and Winnipeg native JP Hoe performed… Continue reading

SAR scaling back in Kilmer search, but friends will keep looking

Search for 41-year-old Cobble Hill dad hits six-day mark

Rachel Notley to skip premiers conference to focus on pipeline deal

Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline project until it receives assurances

B.C. tech company will power Uber Elevate

Moli and Uber announce research and development partnership.

Olympian sues USA Swimming, saying it failed to protect her

Ariana Kukors Smith alleges her former coach Sean Hutchison began grooming her for sexual abuse at the age of 13

Defence minister thanks troops for B.C. flood relief work

Harjit Sajjan says not only was military response quick, support from locals has been ‘tremendous’

Still no sign of missing father in Cowichan Valley

Search group for Ben Kilmer now stands 40 SAR volunteers and another 100 friends and concerned community members

Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

The couple, from Saskatchewan, were en route to Nelson when a tree fell in their path

‘So grateful:’ Injured Bronco hockey player glad he’s alive, works on recovery

Ryan Straschnitzki was badly hurt in the accident: a spinal injury, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and punctured lung

Most Read