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.

Just Posted

West Kelowna mayor to run for councillor position

After saying he won’t seek re-election as mayor, it appears Doug Findlater wants to stay on council

Ash falling in the Okanagan

Reports on social media of ashes on cars around the Okanagan

Temporary smoke relief in sight for Kelowna

Kelowna is expected to see a break in smoke until tomorrow afternoon

Kelowna developer warns home buyers to look at more than the price tag

Kelowna developer Jeffrey Anderson wants first-time homeowners to look at more than the price tag.

Canadian Armed Forces assist with mop-up of fire near West Kelowna

100 Armed Forces members are helping BC Wildfire crews with the Gottfriedson Mountain fire

Snowy Mountain fire travelling away from communities

The Snowy Mountain fire near Keremeos remains at 13,359 hectares in size

Minister optimistic after 2 days of Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Canadian and U.S. officials met in Nelson Wednesday and Thursday to discuss future of the treaty

Man dies in B.C. police cell while awaiting court hearing

An independent investigation is underway after a man died while in Penticton police custody Aug. 16

RCMP appeal for tips, dashcam footage in German tourist shooting west of Calgary

The Durango crashed into the ditch after the shooting near the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre

2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

PHSA says that in-unit guards would do more harm than good

Former Shuswap optician won’t be jailed for sexually assaulting minor

Kenneth Pilkington sentenced to 24 months’ probation for offence three decades ago

Osland to make LPGA Tour debut

Kelowna’s Megan Osland has earned an exemption into next week’s CP Women’s Open in Regina.

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

Most Read