Twenty years after she killed a teen girl in Victoria, Kelly Ellard was granted temporary escorted absences from prison in a parole board hearing Monday.
It’s the second time in a month Ellard, 34, made the request. She recently gave birth to a newborn while serving her second-degree murder sentence in the 1997 death of Reena Virk.
Ellard will now be able to bring her newborn along on supervised visits in the community four times per month and up to four hours per visit, including travel time from the Abbotsford institution.
She was seeking the escorted absences to attend medical appointments and parenting programs with the baby.
“She’s a new parent, and as all of us who are parents know, there are medical appointments that need to be attended to in order to make sure the baby is healthy and developing appropriately,” said Parole Board of Canada spokesman Patrick Storey. “One of the specific reasons was to attend the parenting class.”
Storey said Ellard’s attitude in prison has “changed considerably” in the 15 years she’s been serving her sentence and the board does not feel she poses a risk to the public.
“She’s no longer challenging the staff, she’s cooperating, she’s participating actively in her correctional plan, she’s being proactive,” said Storey.
For the second hearing in a row, Ellard also took some responsibility for Virk’s death, admitting to pulling the teen into the water after viciously beating her and leaving her to die.
Kelly Ellard describes killing Rena Virk to Parole Board: "So I pulled her the rest of the way into the water and walked away."— Robert Buffam (@CTVNewsRob) February 27, 2017
Kelly Ellard describes biggest worry of escorted absences: the public or media getting images of her child.— Robert Buffam (@CTVNewsRob) February 27, 2017
Suman Virk, Reena’s mother, told CTV News on Monday that she wasn’t surprised her daughter’s killer had been granted escorted absences.
“They’re seeming to let Kelly get whatever she wants. It was disappointing that she was allowed to have a visit with her boyfriend and have a child in the first place,” said Virk.
After years of Ellard refusing to take responsibility in the murder, Virk said she disagreed with the decision.
“I totally disagree but it doesn’t surprise me that she’s been allowed to do this, because the system, I guess they have their own standards,” she said.
The decision comes after a two-member panel deciding Ellard’s fate in January came to a split decision, prompting the new hearing.
It also came out during the first hearing that Ellard’s baby lives with her in prison.
Ellard was denied supervised release from prison last May after the parole board stated it wanted her to take more responsibility in Virk’s death.
She was 15 years old when she viciously killed Virk, drowning the 14 year old in the Gorge Waterway near Victoria’s Craigflower Bridge.
Corrections Services Canada says there are currently 10 mothers across the country living with their babies.