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

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

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

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

Just Posted

North Cowichan considers extending tax payment deadline by two months. (File photo)
North Cowichan considers extending deadline for property tax payments

A two-month deadline extension to Sept. 1 gets three readings

John Horn is leaving his position as executive director of the Cowichan Housing Association. (File photo)
John Horn leaving Cowichan Housing Association

Will take on role as executive director of John Howard Society in Nanaimo

Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour has taken a medical leave of absence but expects to return soon. (Citizen file)
Chief William Seymour takes leave from office

Seymour will return once fully recovered

A cougar was sighted in the 500 block of Cedar Avenue in Duncan on May 6 at about 9:30 p.m. (Facebook)
Cougar sighted in residential Duncan

Spotted in the Cairnsmore neighbourhood

The Lake Cowichan branch of the Royal Bank of Canada is closing. (Google)
Lake Cowichan’s RBC branch will close in November

RBC says banking needs will still be met

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read