After a THIRD trial, Kelly Ellard was convicted in the death of young Reena Virk on the basis of gossip and conflicting testimony. The B.C. Court of Appeal has set it right. For now:
A B.C. Appeal Court has overturned the conviction of Kelly Ellard and ordered a fourth trial for her role in the murder of 14-year-old Reena Virk.
Ms. Ellard was convicted in the beating and drowning of Virk near Victoria in 1997 in a case that stunned the country because most of Ms. Virk’s attackers were teenaged girls.
The B.C. court cited inconsistent testimony and the charge to the jury in its 60-page decision released Friday.
“I would allow this appeal, set aside the conviction and order a new trial,” wrote Justice S. David Frankel, writing on behalf of the court.
A 15-year-old at the time of the killing more than a decade ago, Ms. Ellard has been tried three times in Ms. Virk’s killing.
Her first conviction was overturned on appeal, and her second ended in a hung jury before she was convicted at her third trial.
Justice Edward Chiasson concurred with the decision to allow the appeal, saying that instructions to the jury over one witness’s testimony were in error.
“In addition, the history of this case suggests in light of the error, the verdict cannot stand safely,” Judge Chiasson wrote.
One of the three judges on the panel dissented.
Stan Lowe, spokesman for the provincial Crown prosecutor’s office, said the Crown is reviewing the ruling and will decide how to proceed in the coming weeks.
Several other teenaged girls were convicted for their part in an earlier attack on Ms. Virk. She was then followed from the scene, beaten again and drowned in the Gorge waterway, near Victoria.
Warren Glowatski, who was also a teenager at the time of the killing, was convicted of second-degree murder for his role in Ms. Virk’s death in the waterway that night. Mr. Glowatski was granted day parole last year.
Ms. Ellard’s lawyer argued at a hearing in May that the jury based its second-degree murder conviction on lies, rumours and inconsistent evidence.
But Crown lawyer John Gordon told the court the jury was aware of the poor credibility of witnesses, rampant teenage gossip and rumours – and convicted anyway.
Obviously, I don’t know what role Kelly Ellard may have played, if any, in the tragic and horrific death of Reena Virk. The point is, neither does anyone else. If the Crown can’t get a conviction after three shots, I say quit. Leave Kelly Ellard alone. And don’t put Reena Virk’s family through the process again. This opinion may not be popular with “law and order” folk who just want to see someone go to jail, even if they didn’t commit the crime, but why would I care about that?