Andrew Berry, the Oak Bay father charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of his two daughters found dead in his apartment on Christmas Day, had a court appearance this morning (March 15) in which a preliminary hearing date was expected to be set.
Instead, as Andrew Berry sat motionless and listened by video appearance from prison, Crown prosecutor Patrick Weir asked for a focus hearing to take place before a preliminary hearing date is set.
A focus hearing is held when a preliminary hearing is expected to run longer than three days due to the volume of witnesses, evidence, etc.. The focus hearing clarifies and streamlines what will be brought forward in the preliminary hearing to promote a fair and expeditious hearing.
The judge set the focus hearing for March 29 at 9 a.m.
Crown prosecutor Patrick Weir said a focus hearing is required as the case would need more than three days in preliminary hearing. March.29 at 9 a.m. has been set for focus hearing for Andrew Berry, Oak Bay father charged in the deaths of his two daughters on Christmas Day #yyj
— Oak Bay News (@OakBayNews) March 15, 2018
In the preliminary inquiry that would follow the focus hearing, a judge reviews evidence to determine whether the case should go on to trial.
On Christmas Day, Chloe, 6, and Aubrey Berry, 4, were in the care of their father at his apartment on the corner of Beach Drive and Goodwin Street in Oak Bay, B.C.. The children were supposed to go home to their mother’s house on Christmas afternoon but didn’t arrive. Their mother Sarah Cotton contacted the 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 injuries, and was taken to the hospital. Berry was arrested and charged upon release from the hospital.
In the wake of the Christmas Day double homicide of Chloe and Aubrey Berry, criticism has arisen around Justice Victoria Gray’s decision to grant the girls’ father the right to have the girls visit him on Christmas Eve.
Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson spoke up recently in defence of Gray. He reportedly didn’t think evidence brought before the judge in the 2016 divorce proceedings 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.