WARNING: This story contains disturbing details and graphic content.
Paramedic Hayley Blackmore testified Tuesday that she was concerned for her safety and others, and told first responders to “get out” of Oak Bay father Andrew Berry’s apartment after she heard the word ‘kill’ uttered in a deadpan voice.
Blackmore, a BC Ambulance advanced care paramedic who attended the call with partner Connor Ridout, took the stand at the beginning of the week in the trial for Berry, 45, who is charged with second degree murder in the deaths of his daughters four-year-old Aubrey Berry and six-year-old Chloe Berry, both discovered in his Beach Drive apartment on Christmas Day 2017. Berry has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
On that evening, Blackmore was cooking Christmas dinner for other paramedics on shift. She said her Yorkshire puddings were just about finished when a supervisor told them a call had come in that sounded “unpleasant.”
Shortly after, pagers started beeping in the room.
Blackmore appeared calm as she sat on the stand in the Vancouver Law Courts courtroom.
She occasionally pushed her long, straight brown hair from one side of her neck to the other as she described how she and her partner Connor Ridout drove to Beach Drive around 6 p.m. with the knowledge that two children were seriously injured in the apartment.
When they arrived, the two paramedics decided Ridout would check on the patient in the bathtub and Blackmore would be going into the bedrooms.
Blackmore described the apartment unit as quiet, dark and “quite messy and disheveled” with objects all over the floor and blood visible on the walls. She entered the first bedroom across from the front entrance and saw a child on the bed, facing away from the door, with tangled, bloody hair.
A police officer held a flashlight in the room – the single source of light – as Blackmore checked the girl’s pulse and determined she was dead. Touching her neck, Blackmore said the child was stiff and cold, and her whole body rocked when Blackmore touched her shoulder.
Blackmore was only in the room for about two minutes before she went into the other bedroom and checked the pulse of the second child, also laying on the bed with a mess of bloody, tangled, blonde hair. The second child was also stiff and cold, she testified.
“I reached the determination that they were both deceased so we did not attempt any life-saving measures because they would have been futile,” Blackmore testified.
After consulting with Ridout, who had been tending to Berry in the unit’s bathroom, the paramedics decided to remove Berry from the unit.
“The plan was to bring him out into the hallway so we could treat him,” she said. “You can’t treat someone in a bathroom, because there’s no way to get in there.”
But shortly after, Blackmore said she heard a male voice say the word, “kill” in a deadpan voice. Concerned for her and the other first responders’ safety, she described using a “stern” and “authoritative” voice to ask everyone to get out of the unit.
“I just all the sudden was worried about the other paramedics and everyone’s safety,” she said, testifying that although she hadn’t heard any mention of a weapon, she knew from the injuries on the girls that there had been a weapon in the apartment at some point in time.
She said she sent someone to get restraints, because she had heard the word “kill” from the bathroom and “didn’t get a context for it.”
“I wasn’t sure if he said, ‘kill me’ or ‘I’m going to kill you’…” she said. “I just wasn’t sure. And I was, again, concerned for our safety so I was trying to think ahead. I thought he may need to be restrained, so I sent somebody to get restraints so we would have them handy in case we needed them.”
The restraints were never used, said Blackmore.
Crown prosecutor Claire Jennings asked how Blackmore felt at the time she left the apartment.
She paused, then said she felt “sick and overwhelmed.”
Berry was removed from the unit shortly after. Blackmore said he was shirtless, cool to the touch, had a black eye, a lateral laceration to his neck and multiple wounds on the left side of his chest.
She said his wounds didn’t appear to be “actively or profusely” bleeding.
Co-defence counsel Ben Lynskey asked Blackmore if she and Ridout had discussions about the incident after it ended.
Blackmore said yes, they had, but mostly in regards to their “feelings.”
“Me and [Ridout] have had conversations about it, but they mostly have been pertaining to our feelings, how we’re feeling about it,” she said. “Because we’re friends and we’re supportive.
“We had two very different experiences…once we got there we didn’t spend very much time together on that call.”
Lynskey wasn’t satisfied – asking Blackmore if she was trying to mislead the jury to believe the two never discussed the incident.
“I was trying to give the impression that we didn’t talk about specifics,” she said.