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NRI Reena Virk beaten to death after being swarmed by a group of BC youths



Windsor high school play expected to attract parents of murdered B.C. teen

WINDSOR, Ont. — The parents of Reena Virk, the B.C. teen who was murdered by a group of her peers in 1997, are anxious to see a Walkerville high school play based on their daughter’s story. Manjit and Suman Virk of Victoria are planning to come to Windsor to see The Holding Room, an award-winning, original work written by students and their drama teacher. .....Read

Hollywood film on murdered Indian-origin girl
to rule on NRI Virk murder case

Vancouver, April 21, 2010:    Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon will produce a film on the murder of Indo-Canadian girl Reena Virk who was beaten and then drowned in Victoria city near here in 1997. The murder of Reena Virk by white teenagers had made international headlines 13 years ago, leading to calls for stricter juvenile justice laws in Canada. Read More..

Eleven years court drama ended when Supreme Court of Canada
to rule on NRI Virk murder case

The Supreme Court of Canada, 8-1 decision, rejected a 2008 British Columbia Court of Appeal decision that had overturned Kelly Ellard's conviction from her third trial.

Kelly Ellard is now 26, who was 15 at the time of Virk's murder has been given life sentence

  • In 2000, Ellard was convicted of second-degree murder but the decision was set a side on appeal and a new trial ordered.
  • In 2003, she was not convicted because of hung jury
  • In 2004, due to judicial error, she was not convicted.
  • In 2005, she was again found guilty of second-degree murder but later two of the three B.C. appeal court judges said the trial judge did not properly instruct the jury, so decision was thrown out.

Suman Virk, Reena's mother was very upset since the B.C. Court of Appeal set aside Ms. Ellard's murder conviction. She said:

  • Finally, I think the right thing has been done by the court system to bring Reena's murderer to justice
  • She would love to hear some contrition from Ms. Ellard.
  • I wish Kelly would accept responsibility for murdering Reena
  • We were not looking forward to another trial. I really hope I never have to go into a law court again
  • I just can't imagine how she could have done such a horrible, wicked act
  • I sincerely do hope that she can get some sort of mental help so at least she can come to facing what she's done because up until now, she's still in denial about taking Reena's life

After her daughter's death, she spent most of her time to talk to school children about bullying and youth violence in Canada

Reena's father Mannjit Singh wrote a moving book about his daughter's early years because he like to recover from the saddness.

Kelly Ellard has served more than 7 years parole eligibility period of her life sentence and may spend 10 to 15 years more in jail.



Supreme Court rejects move to quash appeal in NRI Reena Virk's killing

Vancouver, Jan.13, 2009
Lachman Singh

The Supreme Court of Canada has tossed out an unusual bid to stop it from hearing a Crown appeal against holding a fourth trial in the infamous 1997 teen-swarming death of NRI Reena Virk, 14.

On Monday, a 5-judge panel of the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that B.C. prosecutors could proceed with its appeal of a split lower-court ruling to retry Kelly Ellard in the beating and drowning death of Reena Virk.

In September, The B.C. Appeal Court ruled 2-1 that the judge presiding over Ms. Ellard's third trial made a mistake in the handling of some witness testimony about the movements of Ms. Ellard and Reena in the moments before the killing. A split decision at the appeal level normally triggers an automatic appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In 2005, Kelly Ellard, 25, was sentenced to life in jail with no possibility of parole for seven years after a Vancouver jury convicted her of second-degree. The majority said Justice Bauman should have more clearly warned Ellard's jury about how much weight to put on some of the testimony they heard about a key point in the prosecution's case.

Justice David Frankel wrote:

  • I have concluded that the trial judge erred in permitting the Crown to elicit evidence of prior consistent statements and in failing to instruct the jury as to their limited use
  • I would, accordingly, allow the appeal and order a new trial

Kelly Ellard, who received the maximum sentence, was 15 years old at the time of the killing. Her first conviction in 2000 was overturned on appeal and her second trial in 2004 ended in a hung jury. At her third trial, she was again convicted.

An accomplice, Warren Glowatski, was also convicted of second-degree murder in 1999 for his role in the savagery and sentenced to life imprisonment. As well, he was convicted of contempt of court and given a year in prison for initially refusing to testify against Ellard.

Read More

Report blames social workers in death of Reena Virk

The parents of murdered teen Reena Virk are taking some satisfaction from a newly released report they say points out how social workers failed their daughter by not thoroughly investigating the girl's allegations of abuse.

Canwest News Service
Published: Friday, September 05, 2008

The parents of murdered teen Reena Virk are taking some satisfaction from a newly released report they say points out how social workers failed their daughter by not thoroughly investigating the girl's allegations of abuse.

Suman and Manjit Virk, Reena's mother and father, blame government social workers who they say scooped up their daughter and put her in foster care based on nothing more than Reena's adolescent (often fantastic) tales of abuse.

It was while living in foster care that their daughter met the streetwise teens who would eventually kill her.

"They [child-protection workers] failed miserably. They failed miserably. There is no excuse for how they failed," Suman Virk said in an interview Monday.

Reena died at the age of 14 on Nov. 14, 1997. First, she was the victim of a group beating that night. After most of her assailants had left, two of the teens, a boy and girl, remained behind and beat her again. Then they dragged her into the Gorge Waterway and drowned her.

Six teenage girls were convicted of assault causing bodily harm. Warren Glowatski, 16, was raised to adult court and convicted of second-degree murder in March, 2000. Kelly Ellard, 15 at the time Reena was killed, also was raised to adult court. After three trials, she was convicted in April 2005 of second-degree murder.

The fatality review report was initiated by the B.C. Children's Commission, now defunct. It was completed by the commission's former chief investigator, John Greschner, on behalf of the B.C. Coroners Service.

A Ministry of Children and Family Services spokesman said the ministry is not prepared to make a comment at this time.

While the report stops short of pointing fingers, it notes omissions when social workers became involved with Reena.

Investigations were closed prematurely, stories were not corroborated with sources outside the family, and social workers failed to work with the Virk family as a unit, the report says.

The report details many of Reena's allegations that began when she was 12. These included tales of physical, mental, emotional and even sexual abuse. All proved to be groundless. The allegations of sexual abuse began with Reena levelling accusations at unnamed relatives in India and progressing later to her father.

Manjit Virk was arrested after a social worker took Reena to police to fill out a complaint. All charges were eventually dropped, but not before their entire family was nearly destroyed, the Virks said

"Due to concerns about the youth's credibility and her history of fabricating events, criminal charges against her father were stayed in court," the report says

The killing of Reena Virk, 10 years later Teen's murder brought worldwide media focus
Richard Watts, Times Colonist
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ten years ago today, on Nov. 14, 1997, 14-year-old Reena Virk was beaten and killed underneath the Craigflower Bridge.

The circumstances of her murder -- she was mobbed by a group of mostly female schoolmates, punched, kicked and then drowned -- catapulted a private family nightmare into worldwide media focus on Victoria.

Reena's parents, Suman and Manjit Virk, are now travelling in India and unavailable for comment. But their story is familiar to most Victorians.
Reena Virk was beaten and killed 10 years ago under the Craigflower Bridge.

Reena was a mixed-up teenager who had drifted into a friendship with young people routinely described as "at risk." On the night of Nov. 14, the Grade 9 student at Colquitz Junior High was invited to party near the Gorge waterway. When she got there, she was surrounded by seven girls and one boy and beaten. Someone put a cigarette out on her forehead.

The toughest girl in the pack eventually declared a stop to the assault. Reena walked away. But two people in the group returned to Craigflower Bridge, beat Reena again and dragged her to the water, where her head was held under.

No one reported the incident to the police. Her body washed ashore eight days later. Police attention soon turned to a group of teenagers. And as they started making arrests, the most powerful media in the world were gathered in Vancouver for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation conference. Media giants like CNN, on hand to follow politicians like U.S. president Bill Clinton, leapt on the story of girl-on-girl violence.

Within weeks, police arrested six girls for the original assault on Reena. All of them were eventually convicted, receiving sentences ranging from 60 days to one year.

Two other teens, Warren Glowatski, then 16, and Kelly Ellard, then 15, were charged with second-degree murder.

Police investigators concluded that Glowatski and Ellard had returned to Craigflower Bridge to resume Reena's beating. Together, they dragged her into the water, and Ellard held her head under.

Glowatski was convicted in June 1999 and sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for seven years.

But with one successful appeal and one mistrial, Ellard had three trials before she was convicted and sentenced to life without parole for seven years.

Last June, Glowatski was allowed day parole and has even made some peace with the Virk family. Ellard still maintains her innocence and is in prison, reportedly in Nova Scotia.

Meanwhile, a tree planted by the Virk family in 1998 in Reena's memory and marked by a plaque was vandalized last month. Suman Virk said she didn't think the vandals were malicious.

"It was probably something cool to do," she observed. She said she doubted another tree would be planted to remember Reena.

Kelly Ellard found guilty in Virk murder case

April. 13 2005

Updated Wed. Apr. 13 2005 10:40 AM ET News Staff

Kelly Ellard has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the 1997 murder of Reena Virk, but the victim's mother said that verdict is not a victory.

"I lost a child, my parents lost a grandchild and the Ellards lost a daughter as well," Suman Virk told reporters Tuesday.

"We will continue to grieve Reena every day of our lives."

"Justice has to be done in this case and a trial had to take place, but there are no winners at the end of the day," B.C. Crown Counsel spokesperson Stan Lowe said Wednesday, appearing on Canada AM.

A B.C. Supreme Court jury delivered its verdict after deliberating for five days.

Other than looking at the floor, Ellard showed no visible reaction.

The verdict for second-degree murder committed by someone like Ellard, who was a young offender at the time, is life in prison without parole eligibility for up to seven years.

The jury will now be asked to make a recommendation on parole eligibility, said CTV's Todd Battis, at the courthouse in Vancouver on Tuesday.

Ellard has also been in custody for 2.5 years, which may impact on parole eligibility.

"It was a very diligent jury," Battis said, noting they listened carefully to all the evidence since the trial began in February.

On Saturday, the jury spent several hours re-listening to evidence from two witnesses.

Ellard, now 22, has faced three trials since the swarming death of Virk, who was a troubled 14-year-old desperate to belong, under a bridge in suburban Victoria.

The tragic case triggered a national debate on teen violence.

In her first trial in 2000, Ellard was found guilty, but the verdict was overturned and a new trial ordered when the B.C. Court of Appeal determined that she had been improperly cross-examined by the Crown.

In her second trial last summer, the jury deliberated for five days before announcing they were hopelessly deadlocked, with one juror holding out. A mistrial was declared.

A key witness against Ellard was Warren Glowatski, who was convicted in 1999 of second-degree murder in Virk's beating and drowning death.

Glowatski testified that he was among a group of girls who lured Virk under a bridge in Greater Victoria on the evening of Nov. 14, 1997. There, they savagely beat her.

Six of the girls were eventually convicted of assault causing bodily harm.

After the beating, Virk staggered back across the bridge. Glowatski testified that he and Ellard followed her and beat her again.

He told the court that the two of them dragged Virk down a slope and Ellard pulled Virk into the water and drowned her as Glowatski watched from the shore.

Virk appeared to regain consciousness as the cold water hit her, but "Kelly karate-chopped her in the throat," Glowatski testified.

Virk's body was found eight days later floating face down in the water.

Several witnesses at the trials said Ellard bragged about killing Virk at school in the days after the beating.

They also testified Ellard boasted of putting her foot on Virk's head while the victim lay in the water and smoking a cigarette until Virk no longer moved.

Defence lawyer Peter Wilson argued Glowatski had killed Virk and tried to implicate Ellard to "save his own hide."

During his closing arguments, Wilson noticed how some witnesses' stories had changed over the years.

But Crown prosecutor Catherine Murray said while Glowatski had admitted to lying about his role in Virk's death, there was a ring of truth when he said his only guilt was that he didn't stop Ellard from killing Virk.

In this third trial, Ellard's current lawyer, Peter Wilson, decided not to call her as a witness.

Ellard insisted at her second trial she never "crossed the bridge."

However, in a memorable exchange with Murray at that trial, Ellard, sobbing, said: "I'm obviously going to be convicted ... My life is over. You got what you wanted. I'm going to be convicted."

With a report from CTV's Todd Battis and files from The Canadian Press



NRI Reena died at the age of 14 was brutally beaten to death after being swarmed by a group of youths under the Craigflower Bridge in Victoria.on Nov. 14, 1997

  • Reena Virk's body was found eight days later floating face down in the water.
  • Ellard boasted of putting her foot on Virk's head while the victim lay in the water and smoking a cigarette until Virk no longer moved.
  • Six teenage girls were convicted of assault causing bodily harm.
  • Warren Glowatski was convicted in 1999 of second-degree murder.


Kelly Ellard was granted a fourth trial in the murder of Reena Virk

  • A B.C. Supreme Court jury convicted Ellard of second-degree murder in 2000.

Suman Virk, Reena's mother blame government social workers who they say scooped up their daughter and put her in foster care based on nothing more than Reena's adolescent tales of abuse.

Mr Manjit Virk Father of Reema Virk.