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

Time to let go

Northern Lights Wildlife shelter near Smithers set to release orphaned animals this spring.

All that jazz

Smithers Secondary show they have all that jazz with their performance of Chicago.

Minerals North to draw hundreds

This is second time Houston has hosted northern mining industry.

NWCC gets green light for name change

The name Coast Mountain College in effect as of June 18

Tree branch damages VIA Rail train between Prince Rupert and Prince George

Passenger train has delayed the scheduled route on April 22

VIDEO: B.C. man recognized for spinning basketball on toothbrush

Abbotsford man holds world record for longest duration of time of 60.5 seconds

VIDEO: Vets, volunteers set up vaccination station for sick bunnies

Volunteers, vets try to stop spread of lethal virus

If you see a dog in a hot car, don’t break in: SPCA

People are being discouraged from smashing windows to free animals. The SPCA has tips on what else you can do.

Municipal election loophole will be fixed, premier says

Union, corporate donations still allowed for slate party ‘operational’ needs

Cat found stuffed in box in Dumpster in northeastern B.C.

Still alive, cat was found near Dawson Creek restrained with zip ties, legs forced behind neck

Fears prompt feds to establish BBQ brush safety standards

Wire-bristle safety fears prompt Ottawa to establish BBQ brush safety standards

Don’t forget about women left to sweep up shards of glass ceiling, W7 urges G7

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau champions gender equality at the G7 he is being asked to raise the concerns of marginalized women

Canadian air travel industry fears pilot flight-time limits will go too far

Air carriers urge feds to slow down flight-time limits for sleepy pilots

Sky-high farmland prices ‘ruinous’ for B.C. agriculture: UFV prof

Fraser Valley-based Tom Baumann says $80K-per-acre in area threatens food security

Most Read