Court document reveals custody battle over sisters killed in Oak Bay

Chloe and Aubrey Berry were found dead in a Vancouver Island apartment

Court documents are shedding light on a tense court battle between the father and mother of two sisters found dead in an Oak Bay apartment on Christmas Day.

The crux of it all: the custody of Aubrey Berry, 4, and Chloe Berry, 6, according to a five-day trial between father Andrew Berry and mother Sarah Cotton in B.C. Supreme Court back in November 2016.

The decision made by Justice Victoria Gray on May 31 states Andrew Berry was to be granted the right to have the two girls for 24 hours beginning at noon on Christmas Eve this year.

Police are investigating the deaths of Aubrey and Chloe as a double-homicide, where one man was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Police have not identified the man, but are not looking for other suspects. No charges have been laid. Friends and family of the girls have told Black Press Media that the girls were with their father.

The court documents posted online show that Andrew once threatened to “blow up the house” during an argument with his ex, was the subject of restraining orders, failed to pay child support for two years, and was investigated twice by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) – in one case involving suspected inappropriate touching.

“[Andrew] has displayed poor judgment in dealing with the children. That has included saying negative things to the girls about the mother, the touching which led to the MCFD investigation, and his present arrangement of sometimes sleeping together with one or the other of the girls,” Gray wrote in her decision.

“It can be hoped that, on reflection, [Andrew] will recognize that it is a poor idea for him to say negative things about the mother to the girls and to sleep with the girls.”

While it was decided Cotton would get majority of the parenting time, Andrew Berry was granted intermittent custody of the girls on a 14-day rotating schedule involving overnight stays on weekdays and weekends, as well as almost every other holiday.

Andrew, Gray wrote, was a “loving father who has much to offer his daughters. It is in the best interests of the girls to have significant parenting time with the father.”

Pair met in 2013 before separating: court documents

According to the court documents, the common-law couple stopped living together and separated after four years together in 2013. In their final day living together, Andrew was was arrested after she called police to report that he had pinned her to the bed at 3 a.m.

At the time, Cotton said following the passing of her own father, Andrew “became increasingly critical of her and called her foul names in the presence of the children, and [Cotton] felt she had lost her protector.”

READ MORE: Young victims of Oak Bay homicide were ‘lively, energetic and silly girls’

READ MORE: Oak Bay nourishes first responders in wake of horrific murders

Almost immediately after the arrest, Cotton told the judge she obtained a restraining order that kept the father from contacting her or the children, lasting for three months before a peace bond was amended to give Andrew time to see the girls.

The years to follow involved issues around child support and the co-ownership of their home, including the judge finding that Andrew failed to pay his share of support to Cotton for about two years.

In November 2015, Andrew won $100,000 in a lottery, but said those funds went to legal expenses and savings, documents show.

Gray ruled that Cotton was entitled to purchase Andrew’s $60,000 share of their home for roughly $20,000 after funds owed to her by him were considered.

Andrew was also ordered to pay $395 per month from December 2016 onwards.

Cotton and Berry were still involved in family law proceedings this year, online court files show.

As the community grieves, a vigil takes place Saturday at Willows Beach in Oak Bay.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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

Ladysmith centenarian honoured with birthday parade

Kay Rozzano said she’s been looking forward to this birthday ‘for 100 years’

Council votes to move forward with detailed site investigation of waterfront area lands

The “uplands area” of the Ladysmith waterfront has historical contaminants that must be remediated

Senior who was excessively speeding in Ladysmith says RCMP shouldn’t have impounded her vehicle

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

Chemainus animal sanctuary needs your vote in nationwide contest

RASTA is up for $5,000 from Nutram; contest runs until May 31

Heartfelt memories of Derek Descoteau four years later

Victim of Chemainus murder and his brother leave a huge impact on a large group of friends

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

As SD84 schools look to reopen, Kyuquot and Zeballos opt out

Schools in Tahsis and Gold River will open on June 1, with 30 per cent students expected to come in

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

Most Read