Trial of B.C. man accused of murdering daughters hears troubling past child abuse allegations
The Vancouver Island man accused of allegedly murdering his two daughters in 2017 fought for years against a series of allegations of child abuse levied by his then-partner, the jury at his murder trial heard Friday.
Those allegations — which were all deemed to be unfounded after multiple investigations — prevented Andrew Berry from seeing his daughters without supervision, making him frustrated, a social worker testified.
Berry has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey Berry, whose bodies were found on Christmas Day 2017 in his Oak Bay apartment.
WATCH: (Aired July 10) Mother of murdered girls continues testimony in trial of girls’ father
Luc Van Hanuse, a child protection social worker for the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), confirmed a list of allegations were made against Berry dating back to 2013.
The prosecution laid out the series of alleged events that brought social workers to the home of Berry and his then-partner Sarah Cotton over concerns about the girls’ well-being.
Van Hanuse agreed that each of those visits and subsequent investigations took place, and that the various allegations were made.
Van Hanuse confirmed the ministry was first called by Cotton to the home in September 2013.
Berry was arrested and later released on conditions not to be at the home or have any contact with Cotton.
Ultimately, no charges were ever filed, and the allegations were determined to be unfounded.
Two years later, in October 2015, Van Hanuse confirmed Cotton called the ministry again. This time, she alleged “possible inappropriate touching” of Aubrey by Berry.
WATCH: (Aired July 9) Mother of two murdered girls on stand at trial of father
Van Hanuse testified he advised Berry of the allegations, which were again deemed unfounded after an investigation by the ministry and Oak Bay police.
During the investigation, Berry was only allowed supervised contact with both of his daughters.
A month later, in November 2015, a physician’s office reported the same allegation of possible inappropriate touching that also involved Aubrey, Van Hanuse confirmed to the jury.
Once again, the ministry said the allegations were unfounded.
In January 2016, Victoria General Hospital contacted the ministry about a bruise on Aubrey’s head from an indoor playground while she was under Berry’s supervision.
Berry was once again prohibited from having contact with his children unless supervised while the ministry investigated the incident, which happened while the second allegation of inappropriate touching was also being investigated.
Van Hanuse confirmed the prosecution’s statement that Berry expressed “disbelief” and “frustration” over the allegations.
WATCH: (Aired July 8) Trial of father accused of killing daughters sees surveillance video
“Just to be clear, with respect to the allegations of possible inappropriate touching, MCFD did not believe that inappropriate touching took place?” Crown lawyer Patrick Weir asked.
“Correct,” Van Hanuse said.
In May 2017, a judge awarded Berry 40 per cent custody of Aubrey and Chloe. Seven months later, the girls were found dead.
During her three days of testimony earlier this week, Cotton agreed with the defence’s argument that things were “better” in the days leading up to the girls’ deaths than they had been in the past.
Crown’s theory is that Berry’s world was unraveling due to a problem with online sports betting. He was depressed over his inability to pay rent and hydro, which threatened his ability to keep custody of his kids.
Prosecutors have argued Berry, who the court heard was in his bathtub with self-inflicted wounds when the girls were found by police, had tried to commit suicide after killing the girls.
Defence has argued Berry didn’t commit the murders and the real killer got away, who they say was allowed to escape after police zeroed in on Berry as the prime suspect.
The trial is expected to continue into August.
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