Young sisters killed in Oak Bay were at centre of bitter custody battle

Click to play video: 'New details emerging about deaths of young girls in Oak Bay' New details emerging about deaths of young girls in Oak Bay
WATCH: New details are emerging today about the deaths of two sisters in Oak Bay on Christmas Day. Court documents show the parents were locked in a bitter custody dispute. Paul Johnson reports – Dec 28, 2017

Disturbing new details are emerging about the family at the centre of a murder investigation in Oak Bay.

Six-year-old Chloe Berry and four-year-old Aubrey Berry were found dead in their father’s apartment Christmas day.

He remains in hospital with self-inflicted injuries.

No charges have been laid in the case, but court documents indicate the parents were in the middle of a bitter custody battle.

The girls’ mother has been in a dispute with their father since their estrangement in 2013.

In a custody judgment this past spring, documents filed by the mother show the father had threatened to “blow up the house” in a fight over money.

There was also a concern the father was touching one of the girls inappropriately.

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The father was warned by the Ministry of Children and Family Development over the touching issue, but a judge eventually ruled the girls’ father was “a loving father who has much to offer his daughters.”

“It’s in the best interest of the girls to have significant parenting time with their father.”

READ MORE: ‘Such pure hearts’: Community mourns Oak Bay girls, aged 4 and 6, found dead on Christmas

In a statement to Global News, a ministry spokesperson said they understand the public’s desire for answers.

“How could something like this happen, and what could have been done to prevent it?”

The Child, Family and Community Service Act explicitly prohibits the ministry from disclosing private information or confirming its involvement with any given family, but the statement said in circumstances like this one, the ministry will cooperate fully with investigations that involve the police or coroner’s office.

A preliminary review will be conducted to determine if an in-depth review is appropriate.

“Without speaking to specifics, each and every time someone makes a child protection report to the ministry we look into the circumstances, assess the risk to the child (or children) and the parent’s ability to provide care,” the statement reads. “Based on those findings, we take the most appropriate course of action.

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“Everyone has a duty to report a situation in which a child may be at risk. In assessing the nature of that risk, social workers exercise their professional judgment within the parameters established by ministry policy and the Child, Family and Community Service Act.”

Family friend Trisha Lees told Global News she has been by the girls’ mother’s side since Christmas Day.

“I think she’s doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances,” she said.

She said the girls were delightful and loved the outdoors.

“They had a whirlwind of energy around them like many kids,” said Lees. “There was a swirl of blond hair around those girls on the playground or on the beach.”

A candlelight vigil is planned for 7 p.m. Saturday at Willows Beach in Oak Bay.

— With files from Paul Johnson

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