Convicted teen killer Kelly Ellard gets escorted temporary absences

The Parole Board of Canada has granted escorted absences to Kelly Ellard, who was convicted of second-degree murder in the 1997 beating death of Reena Virk.

Ellard requested escorted releases from B.C. prison following the birth of her child

Convicted murderer Kelly Ellard, seen here in 2000, has spent about 15 years behind bars after she was convicted of second-degree murder in the 1997 beating and drowning death of 14-year-old Reena Virk. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

One of the teen killers in the notorious swarming death of 14-year-old Reena Virk has been granted temporary escorted absences from prison to attend medical appointments and mom-and-tot programs following the birth of her child last fall.

Kelly Ellard, now 34, has spent about 15 years behind bars after she was convicted of second-degree murder in the 1997 beating and drowning death of Virk near Victoria, B.C.

"I did not get pregnant on purpose. I chose to keep my child. It was a hard decision to make," Ellard told two members of the Parole Board of Canada on Monday.

"But now that I have brought the child into the world, I need to make responsible decisions."

Ellard, who was 15 at the time of Virk's murder, was tried as an adult — three times. In 2009, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld her conviction at her third trial. She was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for seven years.

Parole board member Alex Dantzer says it's disturbing that Ellard continues to minimize her crime, but in light of her good behaviour in prison, and low risk to reoffend, she should be allowed the absences.

At today's hearing, a parole board member asked Ellard about Virk, saying, "Do you think she'd be alive today if it wasn't for you?"

"Yes," Ellard answered.

Ellard said her biggest fear about being out in the community is that someone — particularly, someone in the media — will photograph her and her child.

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

Request denied last month

The parole board's decision means Ellard will be allowed to leave prison in Abbotsford, B.C., for up to four hours at a time, up to four times per month over a three-month period.

If Ellard gets through these escorted absences without problems, future ones can be authorized by a prison warden, without a parole board hearing. A warden has also authorized previous medical appointments.

Ellard made the same request last month, to different parole board members. The two-member parole board panel was split in its decision, so Ellard reapplied.

At an initial parole hearing last May, Ellard took responsibility for Virk's death following years of repeatedly denying her involvement.

But parole board members said at the time she came across as "very entitled" when asking for release, and her request was denied.

With files from Belle Puri and The Canadian Press