*Warning: The following contains graphic content that is disturbing
It was an emotionally-charged morning on the sixth day of the double murder trial for the Oak Bay father accused of killing his two young daughters on Christmas Day 2017.
Oak Bay Sgt. Michael Martin was on the stand Thursday struggling to keep his composure as he recounted the first moments of entering the crime scene where four-year-old Aubrey Berry and six-year-old Chloe Berry were found dead and their father Andrew Berry was found seriously injured.
Const. Piotr Ulanowski – the officer who first went Andrew Berry’s residence to check on the girls after they weren’t returned to their mother on time as laid out in a custody order – called Martin to report he found “anarchy and bloodshed” at Berry’s residence.
Martin testified that it took two to four minutes for him to get from the police station to the apartment on Beach Drive.
As Martin approached the building, he said he saw Ulanowski standing out in front of the apartment circling his flashlight above his head.
Ulansowski went into the apartment first with Martin following behind.
“The very first thing that hit me was the darkness,” said Martin, who went on to explain that while sweeping the hallway with his flashlight he saw blood on the door frame and wall across from the front door he had just entered – enough blood to cause him concern.
On the police radio to the Saanich communication centre, Martin upgraded the call from a code 3 to a code 4, meaning it was a major incident and everyone except those directly involved in the call should stay off the airwaves.
He drew his firearm as he entered the unit, testifying that it was because he didn’t know what they were dealing with at the time and he had been told before entering the scene there was “blood and carnage.”
Crown prosecutor Patrick Weir asked Martin if he thought about freezing the crime scene until obtaining a warrant. Martin replied no, before changing his answer to yes, but he “didn’t think it was a prudent thing to do in responding to this call.” His priority was to get in as fast as possible to render assistance to those who may need it.
Upon entering the suite, Martin said Ulanowski found a significantly injured man, later identified as Andrew Berry, in a bathroom down the hall. Martin told Ulanowski to stay with the man, not knowing at the time if the man “was a victim or a perpetrator of an offence.”
Martin advanced further into the suite looking for the girls. He explained he went down the hall to the living room and kitchen, and after not finding anyone, returned down the hallway to the first of two bedrooms.
On a bed inside the first bedroom, Martin found a small child. On the stand, he fought back tears as he described checking for a pulse on the little girl with blood-matted hair wearing pajamas.
He paused his testimony and took a sip of water.
He said he didn’t find a pulse, and described her as stiff and cool to the touch. There appeared to be lacerations on her.
He radioed Saanich dispatch to say they had a 6-year-old, lifeless on the bed. Dispatch said they would update the ambulance.
Martin continued to the second bedroom and found a smaller child on a bed. She too had lacerations. Again, Martin could find no pulse.
He tried to alert Saanich dispatch of the second body but the communication wasn’t effective, Martin describing the call as “indecipherable.”
When asked by the Crown if he had seen anything like it in his career, Martin replied, “No, not in my 31 years of policing.”
He advised Saanich dispatch that he would need to do a second check of pulses. Before he did, Oak Bay Const. Sandrine Perry arrived on scene.
“She offered to check the pulses. We decided it was prudent to get a second opinion,” said Martin. “I was hoping I was wrong.”
Martin had misgivings about allowing Perry to check the pulses.
“[The misgivings] were based,” Martin choked up, taking a moment to sip water and recompose, “were based on the fact that sometimes you see things and you can’t unsee them.”
He wiped away tears and added, “I didn’t want to expose her to that.”
After following Martin’s path into the bedrooms, Perry confirmed there was no pulse in either girl. She advised Saanich dispatch.
Martin testified that at that point his job was to render assistance and protect the scene until investigative units arrived.
When an ambulance arrived, Martin told Ulanowski to go in the ambulance to the hospital with Andrew Berry.
“He could have passed away en route to the hospital. Sometimes when people pass away they sometimes do dying declarations,” said Martin explaining one of the many reasons he thought it would be wise for Ulanowski to stay with Berry, another being maintaining continuity of evidence.
Andrew Berry, 45, has pleaded not guilty to two charges of second-degree murder in the deaths of his two daughters.
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