Addressing a Victoria courtroom for the first time since the father of her two children was convicted of second degree murder, Sarah Cotton told the court she has depression, anxiety and is in debt.
Reading her victim impact statement as part of Andrew Berry’s sentencing hearing, Cotton told the court she is now on medication to help her sleep.
Berry was convicted of second-degree murder for killing his daughters six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey on Christmas Day 2017.
“I should be putting my kids to bed right now. Not cutting up these pills to put me to sleep,“ Cotton read.
“Precious gift we gave to one another and Andrew took that away violently. There are weeks when all I can do is sleep.”
Cotton, speaking through tears, says she was “honoured to be their mother” and “they were the centre of our world.”
“There was so much light and joy in our house and now it has all gone silent,“ Cotton read.
“My identity is gone. My social role has had to change. I am no longer the mother her children to school every day, making their meals, caring for them, ensuring they are safe and having the best life possible.”
WATCH (aired September 26, 2019): Jury returns verdict in Andrew Berry trial
The victim impact statement sets up an emotional Tuesday in court where more than a dozen people are expected to speak about the impact the two girls’ murder had on their lives.
Sandra Hudson, a family friend, told the court the girls were part of her family, and she describes Cotton as her “sister.”
“To say my life was turned upside would be an understatement,” Hudson read to the court.
On Monday, Justice Miriam Gropper rejected the story Berry painted before the jury.
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 claimed.
Gropper described Berry’s testimony as “unbelievable” and told the court it was “unfathomable” that a henchmen for a loan shark named Paul came into the apartment and killed the two girls.
The minimum sentence for second-degree murder is 10 years until parole eligibility. The maximum sentence is 25 years until parole eligibility.
Legal experts say the judge will assess whether someone is telling the truth and whether they are remorseful when determining sentencing.
Gropper also agreed with Crown lawyer Clare Jennings about Berry’s motivation for killing his daughters.
“The motivation stemmed in part due to his animosity towards Sarah Cotton,” Jennings told the court.