Chief Justice defends judge in Berry custody case

In wake of murders, Justice Gray faces criticism for granting Berry access to girls on Christmas Eve

In the wake of the Christmas Day double homicide of Chloe Berry, 6, and Aubrey Berry, 4, criticism has arisen around Justice Victoria Gray’s decision to grant the girls’ father, now charged with their murders, the right to have the girls visit him on Christmas Eve.

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson spoke up yesterday in defence of Gray in an interview with Global News. He reportedly didn’t think evidence brought before the judge in a 2016 custody trial could have suggested the father was likely to commit the crime — if in fact he did. The criticism of the judge that followed the tragedy is unfair in his opinion.

Hinkson also mentioned that Justice Gray was not responsible for assessing Berry’s fitness to visit with his girls, but instead to figure out the logistical issues around shared custody.

While the Chief Justice declined further comment, Oak Bay News reached out to Family Law Mediator and Arbitrator, Trudi Brown. Brown has not represented either party, but is familiar with the case.

“I think the Chief was saying all of the right things — these are not easy decisions and there was no evidence that (Berry) was a danger,” said Brown. “I can tell you that it appears — from my read of the court decision in May 2017 — that hindsight is playing a big role in the responses.”

Custody decisions are perhaps the hardest for judges, according to Brown, as they are faced with evidence from both parties that conflicts. There are seldom third parties who can substantiate the allegations made by either side.

“It would appear that the father had some serious issues,” said Brown. “Which may have grown worse after the decision and long after the judge had seen him. He may have been able to hide those issues from the wife and other people.”

RELATED: Counsel stresses presumption of innocence in Oak Bay murder case

“In this case, the parties did all the right things to start — mediation, use of divorce coaches, and eventually reaching agreements. The mother had some serious concerns about the father’s care of the children, and those were aired at court, but she did not oppose him having the girls overnight, so long as it was not more than one night at a time so that she could monitor how the children were doing,” said Brown. “The father wanted week on, week off parenting and that was not granted by the court.”

On Christmas Day, Chloe and Aubrey were in the care of their father at his apartment on the corner of Beach Drive and Goodwin Street. The children were supposed to go home to their mother’s house on Christmas afternoon but didn’t arrive. Their mother, Sarah Cotton, contacted Oak Bay police who responded to Berry’s apartment and found the bodies of the two girls.

Andrew Berry was found in the apartment with them, suffering from what are believed to be self-inflicted injuries, and was taken to hospital. Berry was then arrested and charged upon release.

He has now secured counsel and will be appearing in court again on Feb.22.


 

keri.coles@oakbaynews.com

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Metro Vancouver rejects Hazelmere Valley development

Decision follows behind-closed-doors debate spurred by Surrey councillor’s note of ‘new information’

Langley City, Township ponder pot rules

Local politicians will have to decide on retail marijuana zoning and other issues soon.

Langley condo flipping increased as market heated up

Local realtors say investors were re-selling through assignment sales, but the trend may reverse.

Eight arrested in Surrey following fraud investigation by RCMP

Police probe focused on residence in the 18900-block of 64th Avenue

Langley MP pledges support for stranded adopting families

Mark Warawa said he will pressure the minister of immigration on the issue.

B.C. BMX kid wows GoPro with homemade video

Eight-year-old Rex Johnson wins award for inventive video

A year after fire, B.C. senior and his dog thankful to be together

Terry Theroux was separated from Scruffy for 3 months after evictions, fire displaced Highland residents

After World Cup lineup photographed, England urges media to help team

Now the England camp is actually asking media: Are you with us or against us?

Man missing from Fraser Valley prompts massive police operation near Grand Forks

RCMP saying little about the case of Wilfred Kilgren of Popkum who was eventually found in Creston

UPDATED: One person killed in fiery crash near Barriere

Thursday evening crash involved three large semi-trailers and a passenger vehicle

5 to start your day

CRA scam goes from bad to worse in Vancouver, body of Delta man found in Squamish lake and more

Second Narrows Bridge collapse survivor remembers tragic day

Kelowna’s Norm Atkinson remembers what it was like to survive B.C. ‘s worst industrial accident

Lions need to focus on football after disruptive fan incident: coach

Wally Buono says his players need to focus on football after defensive back Marcell Young hit a fan

Liberals set hiring, procurement rules for federally-funded projects

Indigenous Peoples, recent immigrants, veterans, young people, people with disabilities and women to be hired

Most Read