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.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Cowichan Valley Memorial hockey tournament honours seven families united by tragedy

Fifteen Midget C teams anxious to play in an event that’s second to none for emotion and excitement

Canadian Road Trip on the agenda

Fuller Lake Skating Club taking audience on a memorable excursion

International students staying in Washington pass through Chemainus

Rotary club group guests of honour for lunch at the Legion Hall

‘Reasonable’ tax increases a sign of an election year

We’re the losers for increases in the last 10 years

Vancouver Island’s Best Videos of the Week

A look at some of the best video stories from the past week ending March 16, 2018

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Experts: Society has a role in trying to prevent domestic violence

Experts are speaking out following the murder of a woman and her son in Ontario

Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived: Ottawa

Feds have said they won’t try to recover money overpaid until all outstanding issues are fixed

Northern lights chasers in Canada discover new type named ‘Steve’

Phenomenon linked to a powerful current created by charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere

Washington state backs B.C. in pipeline dispute

Governor Jay Inslee says he is ‘allied’ with the province on Trans Mountain expansion projection

Dead rabbits found at Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds stoke concerns about Nanaimo virus

A B.C. wildlife veterinarian says a few of the dead bunnies will be sent for diagnosis next week.

SAY WHAT? Readers weigh in on high-speed rail to U.S.

B.C. to contribute $300,000 to a million-dollar business study on the proposed project

INTERACTIVE MAP: Follow the 2017 Tour de Rock

Follow the Tour de Rock, as they pedal more than 1,000 kilometres fundraising to combat paediatric cancer

Most Read