Father charged with second-degree murder in B.C. sisters’ deaths

OAK BAY, B.C. — The father of two girls who were found dead in a Victoria-area home on Christmas Day has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder.

Andrew Berry, 43, was arrested and charged after he was released from hospital, RCMP said in a release on Wednesday.

Police have said they were called to a residence in Oak Bay on the evening of Dec. 25 where officers discovered the bodies of two children inside.

They also said an injured man, whose condition was not disclosed, was found inside the home and taken to hospital.

A friend and a family member have identified the girls as Chloe Berry, 6, and her sister Aubrey Berry, 4.

Trisha Lees, who was acting as a spokeswoman for the family, has said the children’s mother notified police when her former common-law spouse hadn’t returned the girls as scheduled.

Lees declined to comment on the charges.

At a candle-light vigil for the girls on Saturday, Ricky de Souza, the principal of St. Christopher’s Montessori School where Aubrey attended, said the girl’s death leaves a hole in the school

He said the four-year-old was a kind and gentle person who was the angel Gabriel in the School’s recent Christmas nativity performance.

Stuart Hall, Christ Church Cathedral School principal, said Chloe was a peacemaker at their school and was always the first person to offer help to her classmates.

“Chloe has left us all wounded,” he said of her death.

Oak Bay’s acting mayor, Hazel Braithwaite, told the ceremony that the deaths have taken a toll on the entire community.

“We have all been shaken by this tragic event,” she said.

A decision from the B.C. Supreme Court shows Berry and his estranged common-law wife had a dispute over custody of the girls.

Court documents show the girls’ mother, Sarah Cotton, was concerned about their father’s parenting abilities.

The documents say Berry wanted to split custody of the girls evenly with their mother.

Instead, in a decision last May, the court granted Cotton more parenting time because of her flexible work schedule and because she had been the girls’ primary caregiver for most of their lives.

Bernard Richard, British Columbia’s child and youth representative, said last week that his office has started gathering documents, but it’s too early to say whether they will launch a formal investigation into the case.

Police said on Wednesday the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit continues to investigate the deaths.

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