Officer testifies at Oak Bay father’s murder trial he had ‘concerns’ about whereabouts

WARNING: This story contains details that some readers may find disturbing

No phone call, no email, no response.

Sgt. Michael Martin with Oak Bay police told the jury at Andrew Berry’s murder trial Wednesday he was concerned because he couldn’t reach the Oak Bay father on Christmas Day 2017.

Berry is standing trial for second-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of his two daughters, Chloe, six, and Aubrey, four, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

Court has heard the girls were found with several stab wounds in Berry’s apartment on Dec. 25 along with their father, who the Crown alleges was suffering from self-inflicted wounds to his neck and chest after trying to commit suicide.

Hours before the three were discovered, Martin was responding to a complaint from the girls’ mother, Sarah Cotton, who had gone to the police detachment along with Berry’s mother.

“I was trying to let Mr. Berry know he was late returning the children,” Sgt. Martin said.

“Were you going to arrest him if he attended the station?” Crown counsel Patrick Weir asked.

“No sir, I was not,” Martin responded.

About four hours had passed since the girls were meant to be returned, as stated by a custody order that Martin cited.

Martin testified he contacted Berry’s sister, who he said told him Berry was depressed and encountering financial difficulty that led to his electricity being cut off.

He added Berry’s sister, whose name can’t be released because of a publication ban, had added Berry was a good father and would not harm his children.

Martin said he asked for pictures of the girls to go out to taxis and BC Transit. He wanted to share the pictures with other agencies in an effort to locate them and their father, and said he had “concerns” about their whereabouts.

“That’s why we’re doing a welfare check,” Martin said, adding he had no proof that anything criminal had taken place. “He [Berry] may have just been late.”

Defence has a very different narrative.

While questioning Oak Bay police Const. Pitor Ulanowski earlier Wednesday, Kevin McCullough suggested possible police contamination, irretrievable text messages and key details not recorded in notes as just a few examples of deliberate moves made by police.

Ulanowski, who was the first officer to enter the apartment where the girls and Berry were found, denied the allegations.

Defence hammered the officer for leaving the scene unguarded for about five minutes, leaving the killer plenty of time to escape, while Berry lay naked and severely injured in the bathtub.

“At all times, Mr. Berry was treated as the killer and the suspect, never the victim,” McCullough questioned Ulanowski. “Isn’t that right?”

“No,” Ulanowski replied.

McCullogh pressed on: “That’s why you didn’t ask him any questions or try and ask him questions about, ‘Who’s the killer?’”

“He was unconscious,” Ulanowski answered.

Martin is due to take the stand again Thursday, with defence expected to cross-examine him later this week.

The trial is expected to last about three months.

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