Ellard to stay in jail until top court rules on 4th trial in teen killing

Kelly Ellard will have to stay behind bars until the Supreme Court of Canada decides whether she should face a fourth trial in the killing of teenager Reena Virk a dozen years ago.
Kelly Ellard was found guilty of second-degree murder in April 2005 in her third trial, but the jury's verdict was overturned by an Appeal Court. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

A Victoria teenager who became the face of girl-on-girl violence a dozen years ago will have to wait in jail for the outcome of her bid for a fourth murder trial.

Kelly Ellard's application to be released while the Supreme Court of Canada hears arguments on whether yet another trial should proceed was adjourned Thursday in the B.C. Court of Appeal.

The court put a publication ban on its reasons but ruled Ellard must stay in custody until the Supreme Court rules on a Crown application to overturn a lower court decision to grant her a new trial.

If the high court rules a new trial should proceed, it opens the door for Ellard to apply for bail then.

The court hearing is scheduled for April 20 but a ruling may not come down for months.

Ellard meanwhile will remain in a Vancouver-area remand facility.

Ellard was 15 when she allegedly tormented, helped beat and later drown 14-year-old Reena Virk in Victoria's Gorge waterway in November 1997.

Reena Virk's body was found eight days after she was swarmed and beaten on Nov. 14, 1997. (CBC)

The crime shocked local residents and the country because Virk was swarmed by eight teenagers, all but one of them girls. They beat her and stubbed a cigarette out on her forehead.

The Crown alleged Ellard and 16-year-old Warren Glowatski then followed Virk across a bridge and continued the attack. Her body was found floating in the waterway a week after she went missing.

Six girls were convicted of assault causing bodily harm for the initial attack and sentenced under the Young Offenders Act to various relatively short jail terms.

Ellard and Glowatski were tried as adults and convicted separately of second-degree murder. The court was told Ellard dragged Virk into the water and held her head under.

Ellard's first conviction was overturned on appeal and a second trial ended in a hung jury.

The third trial, in 2005, resulted in another conviction and Ellard was given a life sentence with no parole eligibility for at least seven years, the same term as Glowatski, who testified against her and was paroled in 2007.

But her lawyer appealed again, arguing the B.C. Supreme Court judge trying the case should have given better instructions to the jury on how to weigh the consistency of the evidence given by other teens who said they saw Glowatski and Ellard follow Virk across a bridge.

They didn't see that, he contended, but created the scene based on rumours that raced around the teens' school after Virk disappeared.

The Appeal Court agreed in a 2-1 decision that opened the door for the Crown to take that ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In January, Ellard's lawyers tried to stop the Crown's appeal on technical legal grounds but the high court said it would hear the case.