Nearly two years since his two young daughters were found murdered in his apartment, a B.C. father is due to be sentenced after being convicted for their deaths.
Andrew Berry was found guilty in September of two counts of second-degree murder in connection to the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey Berry, whose bodies were discovered on Christmas Day 2017.
Berry was found in his Oak Bay apartment laying in the bathtub with several stab wounds. Chloe and Aubrey were found stabbed to death in their beds.
A sentencing hearing is set to begin Monday in Victoria, where victim impact statements will be read by friends and family.
The hearing is anticipated to last four days.
Berry faces a mandatory life sentence for each charge. The B.C. Supreme Court justice presiding over the hearing must decide if Berry will be eligible for parole at the minimum of 10 years or the maximum of 25 years.
In an emotional months-long trial earlier this year, Berry and his defence had argued the girls had been killed by associates of a loan shark Berry owed money to. The killers had assaulted Berry and left him to die before fleeing the scene, they said.
Defence also argued police immediately began treating Berry as the suspect upon arriving at the scene, allowing the real killer to escape.
Prosecutors countered that Berry, who admitted during testimony he had a crippling gambling problem, had grown depressed over mounting debt and fears he would lose partial custody of his daughters.
That debt had led to the power in his apartment being cut off, the court heard. Pictures from the apartment the day the crime scene was discovered showed piles of bills and little to no food in the fridge and cabinets.
Crown had compared defence’s case to “a plot from a low-budget movie,” pointing out DNA from a fourth person was never found in Berry’s apartment.
They instead suggested Berry killed the girls in the morning, then turned the knife on himself with intentions to die.
The girls’ mother and Berry’s ex-partner, Sarah Cotton, testified she grew increasingly worried that people were out to “get” Berry because of his debts.
A custody dispute dating back to 2013 had been mostly resolved shortly before the killings, with a judge granting Berry parental visits, including the one on Christmas Eve.
Police discovered Berry and the girls’ bodies during a welfare check at Berry’s apartment after Cotton reported he was late dropping their daughters off at her home as scheduled.
News of the girls’ deaths sent shock waves throughout Oak Bay and the rest of Greater Victoria. People traveled from mainland B.C. to Vancouver Island for several vigils in the days following the murders.