Officer tells of finding body at trial for B.C. dad accused of killing daughters

VANCOUVER — A police officer choked up Tuesday as he recalled finding the body of a little girl, her blonde hair matted with blood, inside a “chaotic” Vancouver Island apartment on Christmas Day in 2017.

Const. Piotr Ulanowski testified at the start of the trial for Andrew Berry, who has pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder of his daughters Chloe Berry, 6, and Aubrey Berry, 4.

Ulanowski told a British Columbia Supreme Court jury that he was the first officer to enter Berry’s apartment, which was strewn with clothing and had blood smeared on the walls.

After he discovered the girl’s body on a bed, he left the suite and called for backup, he said.

“I remember my adrenaline pumping,” he said. “I wanted to go in. At the same time, I didn’t want to go in. I didn’t want to believe what I’d found.”

The defence has not yet had an opportunity to cross-examine Ulanowski or make arguments.

The officer said he went to the apartment on the afternoon of Dec. 25, 2017, after the girls’ mother, Sarah Cotton, visited the Oak Bay police detachment to say the girls had not been returned on time, as required by a court order.

The officer said he knocked on the door but no one answered. He also tried calling Berry’s phone, which he could hear ringing inside the suite but it went to voice mail. Eventually, a property manager provided a key to the apartment and Ulanowski entered just before 6 p.m.

A sergeant joined him about five minutes after he made the grisly discovery inside the suite, he said. The pair re-entered together, using flashlights because the power had been shut off, he said.

Ulanowski said he headed down a hallway on his own and entered a bathroom, which was “in complete disarray” like the rest of the home.

“That’s where I located a nude male in the tub,” he said.

Andrew Berry was submerged in water up to his shoulders and he had lacerations on the left side of his chest, blood on his neck and his right eye was swollen shut, Ulanowski testified.

The constable testified he called out, “Andrew, Andrew, can you hear me?”

“There was very little response but there was a gasp for air,” Ulanowski said.

Earlier Tuesday, Crown lawyer Clare Jennings said in her opening statement that Berry stabbed his young daughters dozens of times each before attempting to kill himself.

Jennings said when paramedics and firefighters responded to Berry in the bathtub, he told them, “kill me,” and “leave me alone.”

Another paramedic assessed the two young girls, who were found dead in bloody pyjamas lying on beds in separate bedrooms, she said, adding they were stiff and cold.

“They had been deceased for some time.”

She said an autopsy found Chloe Berry was also struck in the head at least once, hard enough to fracture her skull.

Andrew Berry was treated in hospital and underwent surgery to repair a serious injury to his throat or neck, she said.

While in hospital, he never once mentioned his daughters or asked how they were doing, and instead he had a series of complaints about the way his parents and the girls’ mother had treated him, she said.

Forensic identification officers went to his apartment and photographed a knife on the floor near the bed where Chloe Berry was found, Jennings said.

They also found a note on Berry’s living room table addressed to his sister, in which he also sets out a number of complaints about his parents and Cotton, she added.

Jennings told the jury a neighbour will testify about hearing loud noises from Berry’s apartment around 8 a.m. on Christmas Day. Neither of his daughters was seen or heard from at all that day, she said.

She said a court order in May 2017 set out the parenting schedule between the two parents, with Cotton taking custody 60 per cent of the time and Berry the remaining 40 per cent.

Also in May 2017, Berry quit his job with BC Ferries. He struggled financially and by December his power had been shut off and he was due to be evicted because he was behind on rent payments, she said.

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Westerner Park faces financial challenges

City of Red Deer assumes temporary financial oversight

Westerner Park asks City of Red Deer for financial help

Westerner Park says it needs city financial support

Pfizer posts 4Q loss, misses Street views, on lower revenue

Drugmaker Pfizer reported a $337 million loss in its fourth quarter after… Continue reading

UK to allow Huawei equipment in 5G networks but not in ‘core’ parts

LONDON — Britain decided Tuesday to give Huawei limited access to build… Continue reading

Country music fans enjoy free concert at Red Deer mall, ahead of ACMA awards

Fans like to get up close and personal and that’s exactly what… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Feb. 1 A Jump Rope Competition will be held at the Abbey… Continue reading

Virus in China affects sports events, Olympic qualifiers

GENEVA — Amid growing concern at the spread of a new virus… Continue reading

Ottawa 67’s boss Andre Tourigny gets call to coach Canada’s junior team

CALGARY — After serving as an assistant coach this year for Canada’s… Continue reading

Juno Awards nominees to be unveiled for music’s big night in Saskatoon

TORONTO — The 2020 Juno Awards nominees are set to be revealed… Continue reading

Harvey Weinstein NYC sex assault trial picks up pace

NEW YORK — The closely watched #Metoo era rape trial of Harvey… Continue reading

Calgary sport school that grooms Olympic champions threatened with shutdown

CALGARY — The National Sport School in Calgary that produces Olympic and… Continue reading

Quebec to seek consensus on offering medical aid in dying to mentally ill

MONTREAL — Quebec on Monday walked back a plan to offer medical… Continue reading

GOP defends Trump as Bolton book adds pressure for witnesses

WASHINGTON — Senators faced mounting pressure Monday to summon John Bolton to… Continue reading

Most Read