On Wednesday, December 27th, Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen announced a candle-light vigil to honour memory of the two little girls who were found dead in their Beach Drive apartment on Christmas day.
The vigil will take place on Saturday, December 30th at 7 PM on Willows Beach, for sisters Aubrey Berry, 4, and Chloe Berry, 6.
“On behalf of Oak Bay Council, District staff, and residents of Oak Bay, I want to offer my sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of those two precious young girls,” said Mayor Jensen in a statement.
“Our heart breaks for you and we, as a community, are here for you.”
Family friend speaks out
Trisha Lees, the family’s close friend and their spokesperson, talked to the Canadian Press about the victims and their relationship with their mother, Sarah Cotton.
“Seeing the three of them together was an absolute delight. Sarah was just one of those mothers who was born to be a mother and did an exceptionally great job with them in every possible way,” said Lees.
The girls’ parents had been embroiled in a bitter custody battle since their separation in 2013. Cotton reportedly called the police when Berry did not return Chloe and Aubrey to her on Christmas Day, as had been planned.
A long and ugly history
According to a recently unearthed court document, Andrew Berry and Sarah Cotton spent five days in November 2016, in the B.C. Supreme Court fighting for custody of their daughters.
On May 31st, 2017, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Victoria Gray handed down her judgement for a shared custody arrangement.
With regard to Christmas 2017, the girls were to have parenting time with the father from noon on December 24 to noon on December 25.
The court document outlines a series of disturbing allegations against Berry in the past:
- Cotton testified that after her father passed away in 2013, Berry started criticizing her and calling her foul names in front of the girls.
- When Berry was angry with her, he would drive erratically and go over the speed limit, even when the children were in the car.
- The court accepted Cotton’s “uncontradicted evidence” that Berry threatened to “blow up the house” if he didn’t get a breakdown of childcare expenses and family allowance cheques from the government.
- In September 2013, Berry was arrested when Cotton called the police after he pinned her to her bed at around 3 AM.
- In October 2015, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) investigated Berry after reports that he had inappropriately touched Aubrey’s genitals. He was then instructed to take parenting courses.
Failed by the system?
These, and other revelations in the court document have many in the community asking whether the judicial system failed to protect Chloe and Aubrey.
British Columbia’s Representative for Children and Youth has stated that a formal review will not be considered, until the police investigation is finalized.
The Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit are still conducting their investigation and have not yet made public the cause of death.
Andrew Berry is currently being treated for his self-inflicted wounds.
Candle-light Vigil for Chloe and Aubrey Berry
- When: Saturday, December 30th, 7 PM
- Where: Willows Beach