20th anniversary of Reena Virk’s tragic death marked in Saanich

Reena Virk

AT a memorial in Saanich to mark the 20th anniversary of 14-year-old Reena Virk’s horrific murder by teenagers, her father, Manjit, on Tuesday recalled that she was puzzled as to why others picked on her. He and his wife, Suman, tried to explain to her that some people have different values and they would mistreat her. But they exhorted her not to retaliate and advised her to talk to them and her teachers.

Education Minister Rob Flemming noted that since Reena’s death, schools have launched a raft of successful anti-bullying and inclusion programs.

He said: “It’s a day to celebrate tolerance and diversity and to rededicate urselves in Reena’s memory to make sure no child is bullied in the way that she was.” He called her death a national tragedy, The Canadian Press reported.

 

KELLY Ellard was convicted of second-degree murder along with Warren Glowatski for the brutal beating and drowning of 14-year-old Reena Virk on November 14, 1997, in Saanich. Ellard was 15 and Glowatski was 16 at the time of the crime. Six other teens were convicted of assault-related charges.

Glowatski served his maximum seven-year term and was released on day parole in 2007 and on full parole in 2010.

Ellard’s verdict was overturned on appeal. Her second trial in 2004 ended in a hung jury. She was convicted at the third trial in 2005, but that verdict was overturned by the B. C. Court of Appeal.  In 2009, the Supreme Court of Canada by an 8-1 ruling overturned the split decision of the B.C. Court of Appeal in 2008. If the top court had upheld the lower court’s ruling, it would have forced a fourth trial, or the Crown could have decided to set Ellard free.

A parole hearing at Abbotsford’s Fraser Valley Institution for Women in May 2016 denied Ellard day parole. It noted Ellard had now admitted her role in Virk’s killing, but not according to the version outlined by the judge. Ellard had made some progress such as not being involved in any known violent acts for the past seven years and being drug-free for 11 months.

Parole board regional spokesman told the media that the board was not convinced Ellard was ready to be released into the community yet, noting: “She still seems to be minimizing many aspects of the offence. We want to see more evidence.”

In February 2017, Ellard, now 34, was granted temporary escorted absences from prison to attend medical appointments and mom-and-tot programs following the birth of her child last fall.

CBC reported she told two members of the Parole Board of Canada: “I did not get pregnant on purpose. I chose to keep my child. It was a hard decision to make. But now that I have brought the child into the world, I need to make responsible decisions.”

A parole board member said it was disturbing that she continued to minimize her crime. However, because of her good behaviour in prison, and low risk to reoffend, the member said that she should be allowed the absences.

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