Chad Douglas Berry was sentenced Tuesday to 14 years in prison for a violent crime spree that began with the stabbing of two women in an Oak Street basement suite and ended with his arrest near Vanderhoof following a police manhunt.
In reaching his decision, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Glen Parrett recounted a rampage that began in the early morning of March 11, 2010 when Berry forced his way into a basement in a home on the 2300 block of Oak St.
Berry then crawled into a bed where one of the women was sleeping and told her he would kill everyone in the house if she didn't have sexual intercourse with him, then smashed her cellphone and personal computer.
When the woman called for help, her roommate, who was reading in another room, came to the bedroom door where Berry asked to borrow her cellphone, which he then smashed before forcing the second woman into the bedroom and making her sit against a wall.
"After pulling on a pair of black gloves, the accused announced 'I'm going to have to axe murder everyone now,'" Parrett said.
When one of the women tried to escape, he put her in a headlock, punched her and forced her back to the wall. He then began punching the two women, alternating back and forth, until one managed to draw back with both feet and kick him in the chest, knocking him off his feet and into a closet. That allowed them to escape and notify their neighbours.
"Neither woman realized until after they had fled that they had both been stabbed repeatedly during the assault," Parrett said. None of the wounds were deep but there were punctures and extensive bruising.
Berry, meanwhile, had left the suite and made his way through Hudson's Bay slough and to a home on Moyie St., about 1.5 kilometres away, where he concealed himself in nearby brush until RCMP members searching for him had left the area.
Dressed only in underwear and an undershirt stained in blood, Berry, described as cold, wet and "freaked out," told the home's occupants, a woman who was housesitting and her friend, a man who was visiting her, that he stabbed one of the women to death.
He cleaned himself, put on new clothes, demanded a ride from the man and looted the home, loading the items into the man's truck. Berry and the two drove to a home on Sutley Rd., where he had been invited for dinner by the owner's daughter some days before.
The man left after Berry threatened to kill him if he told anyone and, with the woman from the Moyie St. home still with him, stole a truck from the Sutley Rd. home and drove west towards Cluculz Lake where he dumped the canopy and stole a camper.
In the early morning of March 12, 2010, Vanderhoof RCMP received a report of a broken down truck and camper on the Bobtail Forest Service Road where Berry was arrested, the woman rescued and the items from the Moyie St. home were found.
Parrett described Berry's actions as a "rampage with no regard for the rights or safety of others."
Berry, who had become addicted to crystal methamphetamine according to submissions from defence counsel, was heavily under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time, but Parrett found that was no excuse.
"Consumption of alcohol and drugs, while a factor to be considered, does not in any way justify an attack on individuals within their own home," Parrett said.
Moreover, Berry left the two women he stabbed "terrrified and emotionally scarred," Parrett said.
Parrett outlined an extensive criminal record with two of the convictions for offences "with disturbing and startling parallels to the present circumstances."
Iin 2005, he broke into a home of an elderly man and beat him and in 2006, he became angry with a woman he knew and pointed a loaded sawed off shotgun at her chest and threatened to kill her and her family.
And while he pleaded guilty to several charges, he did so "at the last minute," Parrett said, just before a jury trial was to begin, and noted Berry opposed preparation of a pre-sentence report and had refused to cooperate for a psychological and risk assessment.
However, Parrett referred to a 2008 assessment in which Berry was described as someone "who takes pride in his past acts of aggression."
"The accused does not come from a disadvantaged background so often seen in these types of cases," Parrett said. "The family is described as a good family, strongly supportive of the accused. In the end however, I am left with little but [defence] counsel's assurance that the accused has realized that drugs and alcohol has caused him serious grief and problems and wishes to change."
Crown prosecution had been seeking a sentence of 16 years, consisting primarily of consecutive terms of seven years for the two aggravate assault counts while defence counsel was suggesting four to six years in total. Parrett settled on consecutive six-year terms for the aggravated assaults, plus two more years for a handful of other charges.
Berry's 14-year term was reduced by two years, eight months and eight days to account for time already spent in custody.