Andrew Berry, the Oak Bay father charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of his two daughters found dead in his apartment on Christmas Day, made his third court appearance this morning (Feb. 22).
The expected outcome of today’s appearance was to set a preliminary hearing date, but the Crown has instead asked for three more weeks to prepare.
There was tension in the courtroom before the judge entered as Berry’s criminal defence lawyer, Kevin McCullough, appeared to have terse words with Crown prosecutor Patrick Weir. It was unclear what they were discussing but audible to the crowd was an exclamation of “you’re dead wrong” from McCullough directed at Weir.
Once the proceedings started, Andrew Berry appeared by video, sitting expressionless on a blue bench with a sign behind him that read Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre. With hair cut short and wearing a sleeveless shirt, Berry said nothing during his appearance.
The court granted the Crown’s request and adjourned until March 15 at 9:30 a.m.
It is not uncommon for such delays to be requested, especially involving serious crimes where collecting statements, getting expert reports and preparing documents can take time. McCullough – speaking generally, not related to this case – noted that autopsy and forensic reports can take months, not weeks.
In the Canadian Charter, a person charged with an offence has the right to be tried within a reasonable time.
“Is this case moving at a pace? I don’t think for any accused person it can move fast enough,” said McCullough. “Having said that, am I surprised at this three week adjournment today? No.”
He had previously mentioned his client was having a difficult time in custody.
“For a person who has never been in custody before, it is always very difficult. I can tell you that in part, that’s why I’m looking for a speedy trial,” said McCullough on Feb. 1 after Berry’s last court appearance.
Outside of court, McCullough said he is not ruling out a bail application for Berry. He mentioned two of his other clients who are charged with murder and are out on bail, one in Kelowna and one in Nanaimo.
“They are out on bail. One is charged with first and one is charged with second. People who are charged with murder get out on bail,” said McCullough. “It’s not an absolute prohibition.”
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On Christmas Day, Chloe, 6, and Aubrey Berry, 4, were in the care of their father at his apartment on the corner of Beach Drive and Goodwin Street in Oak Bay, B.C.. The children were supposed to go home to their mother’s house on Christmas afternoon but didn’t arrive. Their mother Sarah Cotton contacted the 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 injuries, and was taken to the hospital. Berry was arrested and charged upon release from the hospital.
In the wake of the Christmas Day double homicide of Chloe and Aubrey Berry, criticism has arisen around Justice Victoria Gray’s decision to grant the girls’ father the right to have the girls visit him on Christmas Eve.
Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson spoke up recently in defence of Gray. He reportedly didn’t think evidence brought before the judge in the 2016 divorce proceedings 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.
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