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June 21, 1999
Reena Virk's Family Slams Hardened Killer
A P Kamath in Vancouver
Before sentencing 18-year-old Warren Glowatski for beating and drowning 14-year-old Reena Virk, a school-mate he never knew, Justice Malcolm Macaulay offered him an opportunity to address Virk's family. But Glowatski, who has admitted to beating Reena but blamed a co-defendant for her death, refused to say anything.
The murder appeared even more horrifying because others involved in the assault that took place on November 14, 1997 were teenagers, too. Seven of the eight charged were girls.
"A few words would have gone a long way," said Ravi Pallan, Virk's uncle, adding that yet he was not surprised by Glowatski's silence. Reena's parents, who had attended most of the trial, were not in the court when Macaulay sentenced Glowatski to an adult facility and his lawyer announced he would appeal the conviction.
Dale Marshall, Glowatski's lawyer, told the reporters people should remember that his client is a "very young, immature individual".
The judge too found Glowatski a "troubled, immature young man" who had trouble dealing with the effects of the breakdown of his family -- his mother was an alcoholic and father had walked away from the family. Justice Macaulay then sentenced Glowatski to life imprisonment with no parole for seven years.
"Violence is not a recreational activity," Macaulay said.
The judge could have sent Glowatski to a juvenile judge because he was 16 at the time of the murder but Macaulay decided to set a stern example. Reena Virk's death resulting from the beating by her schoolmates is one of the most discussed act of violence by school students in North America, which led to the writing of lengthy stories about teenage killings in such magazines as Macleans in Canada and GQ in America.
Warren Glowatski knew Reena Virk was going to die as he helped push the unconscious Victoria girl out into a tidal waterway, a prosecutor had argued in the five week-long trial.
"Actions speak louder than words," the prosecutor added. "Warren Glowatski's actions were illustrative of his hate or anger towards Reena. He wanted to do her harm."
Virk, herself a troubled teenager with serious emotional problems, who often lived away from her parents, was lured to a lonely spot near a river by her school-mates. She was humiliated, taunted with racist remarks, beaten up and finally pushed into the river. Six girls, now aged 14 to 16, have been convicted for the initial beating. But Glowatski and a teenage girl -- whose name the authorities did not make public -- were charged with the final phase of violence that led to Reena's death. The second trial starts in about three months.
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