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Child rep eyes deaths

British Columbia's child and youth representative says his office has begun to collect information about two young sisters who were found dead in a Victoria-area home on Christmas Day.

Bernard Richard says it's too early to tell whether he will launch a formal investigation, but he says his office has contacted the BC Coroners Service and the ministry in charge of child welfare and has begun gathering documents.

Police discovered the bodies of the children inside a home in Oak Bay on Monday evening and are investigating the incident as a double homicide.

A friend of the family says the girls' mother, Sarah Cotton, notified the authorities that her former common-law spouse, Andrew Berry, hadn't returned them as scheduled.

A friend and a family member have identified the girls as four-year-old Aubrey Berry and her six-year-old sister Chloe.

Police have said an injured man, whose identity and condition have not been disclosed, was found inside the home and taken to hospital.

No charges have been laid and police have said they are not looking for any further suspects.

Richard says his office cannot begin interviewing witnesses or officially investigating until police and the coroner's service have finished their investigations.

B.C.'s office of the children and youth representative can investigate when young people involved with child welfare services die or are critically injured.

The girls' mother had concerns about their father's parenting abilities, court documents say.

In a decision released in May, a Supreme Court of British Columbia judge said Berry displayed poor judgment in dealing with his children, including allegations of inappropriate touching involving one of the girls that led to an investigation by the province's child welfare agency.

In court, Berry testified he tickled one of the girls but not inappropriately.



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