Andrew Berry claims that just before his daughters were killed, he was tackled from behind, thrown on his bed and stabbed in the throat by an unknown attacker.
It was Christmas Day 2017, and Berry says he and his two little girls had just returned from a long day of tobogganing in the snow when he was attacked in the bedroom of his Oak Bay, B.C., home.
“I’m tackled onto the bed, my chin’s pulled back,” Berry testified in B.C. Supreme Court on Thursday.
“I’m stabbed in the throat. There’s just searing pain through my body and the next thing I know, when I come to, I just don’t know what to think.”
Berry is on trial for two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of his daughters, six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey. The girls were found stabbed to death in his apartment. Berry was located, naked and seriously injured, in the bathtub.
During his second day of testimony, Berry laid out his version of events for that Dec. 25, in contrast to the Crown’s allegation that he stabbed his daughters to death and then tried to kill himself. Berry has suggested that a loan shark and his associates may have been responsible for the murders.
He told the court that after the first attack in his bedroom, he made his way to Chloe’s bedroom, but collapsed in the doorway. When he regained consciousness, he says he crawled to his older daughter’s bed.
“I reach out and touch Chloe and she’s dead and there’s blood everywhere,” Berry testified. “I just think of Aubrey at that point.”
He told the court he looked for the little girl in his bedroom and then in the kitchen, where he was attacked again.
“My memory of me in the kitchen is me grabbing a knife and getting thrown to the floor,” Berry said.
He described his attacker as “my height with dark skin and dark hair.”
The next thing Berry said he remembers is waking up in his bathtub with a light shining in his face and someone yelling, “Police, police.” He heard someone say “This is the guy who killed his kids.”
‘Everybody thought I killed the girls’
Berry was rushed to hospital. He described being handcuffed to the bed and feeling like he wanted to die.
He told the court he doesn’t remember saying, “Kill me” when his sister visited his bedside, as she has testified. He said she treated him as if he’d killed his daughters.
“Everybody thought I killed the girls — everybody. There’s not a soul who didn’t,” Berry said.
He also acknowledged nodding when a hospital psychologist asked him if he’d tried to kill himself, but told the court he was referring to another attempt, a month earlier.
Berry has testified that at the time of the killings, he was $25,000 in debt to a loan shark named Paul. He said he’d agreed to store packages for Paul in his apartment, and given his spare keys to the man’s associates.
Berry says he and Paul had known each other for 20 years, but he does not know Paul’s last name or where he lives.
Earlier in Thursday’s proceedings, Berry described spending a joyful Christmas Day with the girls, tobogganing at a nearby golf course after a rare snowfall.
A neighbour has testified to hearing loud crashes and thuds from Berry’s apartment that morning, but Berry told the court that’s impossible because there were no unusual noises from his unit.
He talked about making two trips to the golf course, walking a total of four kilometres with the girls and ignoring his court-ordered requirement to return the girls to their mother, Sarah Cotton.
“They were so keen to keep tobogganing and the snow was melting. I knew that when they went to Sarah’s they wouldn’t have a chance to play in the snow again,” Berry told the court.
“I knew I would get in a little bit of trouble.”
Berry also talked a bit about why he quit his job at BC Ferries in May 2017, offering a slightly different version of events than he has previously.
On Wednesday, he testified he was desperate for a source of money to pay back his $25,000 gambling debt, and the only option was to cash out his pension.
On Thursday, he told the court that when he quit his job, “I had just decided to gamble and win enough money to go away with the girls.”
Berry’s testimony is scheduled to continue Friday morning.