The man convicted for his role in theswarming death ofteenager Reena Virk tearfully thanked his victim's parents for their supportas he was granted day parole in British Columbia on Thursday.

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Reena Virk, 14, was beaten and drowned on Vancouver Island in 1997.

"I hope that one day I will be able to be as caring, selfless," Warren Glowatski, 26, told Virk'smother and fatherat his parole hearing in Mission, B.C.

"I don't take your support for granted."

Glowatski was convicted in 1999 of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for at least seven years.

He was 16 when he and a group of teens beat 14-year-old Virk under a bridge in Saanich on Vancouver Island in 1997.

Battered and bloodied, Virk managed to staggeracross the bridge, only to be dragged back to the water by Glowatski and another teen, Kelly Ellard.

They beatVirk again and drowned her.

Ellard was convicted of second-degree murder, whilesix other girls were convicted of assault for their role in the initial beating.

Glowatski told the three-member parole board on Thursday thathe was a different person in 1997.

"My thoughts back then were about being powerful," he said. "I call it bravado, or trying to be a gangster. I was screaming out for attention in all the wrong places and I got it."

'I realized just what I had taken away'

Speaking through tears, Glowatski said meeting Virk's parents has moved him more than anything else. He met with Suman and Manjit Virk several times in prison.

"The topic of marriage came up and I realized just what I had taken away from Suman and Manjit," he said. "They reached out and offered me their hand and their care."

The couple went to the parole hearing Thursday to show their support. When the board made its decision in just 25 minutes, Suman huggedGlowatski tightly, while Manjit shook his hand.

"We would have hoped that somebody would have learned something from this whole thing," Suman told reporters after the hearing.

"And so far, it looks like Warren has done that. Out of all the accused in this whole process, he's the only one that's done that."

Suman said she can see how Glowatski is no longer the angry, scared teenager that he once was.

"Today I think we see a young man who has taken responsibility for his actions and is trying to amend the wrong that he did," she said.

'I feel ashamed'

Glowatski took rehabilitation courses in prison and speaks as a mentor to young people at risk of getting involved in crime. He's embraced his native heritage and invited an aboriginal elder to do a traditional smudge ceremony at the start of the parole hearing.

He said he plans to take a welding course once he is transferred to a halfway house. A location and date have not yet been set.

He said he hates to think of how he stood by and watched Ellard hold Virk's head underwater.

"I feel ashamed," he said. "I wish I could crawl under a rock."

Ellard has been through three trials and is seeking a fourth. Her first trial in 2000 ended with a conviction that was later overturned by the B.C. Court of Appeal, while her second trial in 2004 ended with a hung jury.

At her third trial a year later, she was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for seven years.

With files from the Canadian Press