Chloe Berry, 6, and Aubrey Berry, 4, were found dead in an Oak Bay apartment on Beach Drive on Christmas Day 2017. (Submitted photo)

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man charged with daughters’ murders

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

*Warning: The following contains graphic content that is disturbing

The double murder trial for the Oak Bay father accused of killing his two young daughters on Christmas Day in 2017 entered its second week Tuesday at Vancouver Law Courts.

Andrew Berry, 45, has pleaded not guilty to two charges of second-degree murder in the deaths of his two daughters, four-year-old Aubrey Berry and six-year-old Chloe Berry, who were found dead in his apartment on Christmas Day in 2017.

Crown’s first witness, Oak Bay Const. Piotr Ulanowski, who was first on the crime scene, took the stand for the third day, being cross-examined by Berry’s criminal defence lawyer Kevin McCullough.

McCullough accused the police of mishandling the case, saying they had tunnel vision and only focused on his client Andrew Berry as the perpetrator, going so far as to say they “shaded the evidence” to try to convict him.

Ulanowski testified that upon opening the door of the apartment and shining his flashlight into the suite, he saw blood on the floors and walls of much of the apartment and the body of a little girl in one of the beds.

After finding the grisly scene of “chaos” in Berry’s apartment, he closed the door of the suite and went to the front of the apartment building to wait for backup – his supervisor Sgt. Michael Martin – to arrive, leaving the suite door unattended.

McCullough called that a mistake, as someone could have left during those five minutes that Berry’s door was unguarded and unwatched.

RELATED: Gruesome details emerge on first day of trial for Oak Bay father charged in daughters’ deaths

McCullough said “it would take mere seconds” for “the killer” to leave through a back exit door 15 to 20 feet from Berry’s door while Ulanowski was at the front of the building. Ulanowski agreed that was possible.

Ulanowski was questioned about why he didn’t put in his notes or share in his debrief the fact he left the door unguarded and unwatched.

“I’m going to suggest that you intentionally left that out of your notes,” said McCullough, suggesting Ulanowski did it to hide his mistake and “incompetence.”

Ulanowski disagreed, saying he was just trying to mentally process the scene.

McCullough also grilled Ulanowski on why he told the jury he had minor trouble pushing open the front door of Berry’s apartment – as if there was something on the other side – when he did not put that in his notes or mention it during debriefs.

“That’s because, I’m going to suggest to you, Const. Ulanowski, it is not true,” said McCullough.

Ulanowski denied the claim.

RELATED: Trial begins for Oak Bay father charged in Christmas Day deaths of two daughters

McCullough continued, suggesting that Ulanowski brought up the door difficulties “because you knew that was trying to shape the case against Mr. Berry. Right?”

“How? I’m not the lead investigator on this,” said Ulanowski. “I’m just the guy that showed up at the front door and found bloody children.”

McCullough suggested that the reason Ulanowski didn’t record it in his notes is because there was no difficulty in opening the door and said the reason the cross-examination was uncomfortable is because the notes and debrief didn’t reflect the door difficulty.

“This is uncomfortable because I have to reference dead kids, that remind me of my own kids. That’s why this is difficult,” Ulanowski retorted.

McCullough asked if Ulanowski wanted to take a break.

When Ulanowski said “No, I’m fine,” McCullough raised his voice and blasted,”You realize he’s on trial for murder, don’t you?”

The integrity of the crime scene was also questioned by McCullough as Ulanowski admitted under cross-examination that he did not put on booties and that it was “impossible” for him to not have tracked blood from the bathroom – where Berry was found naked in a bathtub with stab wounds in the upper left chest area and throat – through the scene and into the hallway. It was also confirmed by Ulanowski that objects in the hallway were moved while trying to get Berry onto a gurney outside the apartment.

During discussion about debriefs on the day of the event, Ulanowski described a mental health debrief that was conducted as a group with Ulanowski, Martin and other officers who were on scene. Ulanowski testified that the officers discussed the events and timeline of the day during that session. The debrief was done midway through Ulanowski writing up his report, with him taking a break to do the mental health debrief before resuming the report writing again afterwards.

McCullough expressed concern about the fact the mental health debrief was done as a group with multiple officers that were on scene.

“You all contaminated your evidence that night, being influenced by what the other person said happened,” said McCullough.

The trial will resume Wednesday morning at 9:45 a.m.


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

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