The former Napier city councillor charged with his wife's murder could be in prison until he's nearly 80 if found guilty under the Canadian legal system.
Peter Beckett's wife Laura Letts-Beckett drowned while the couple were fishing on Arrow Lake in British Colombia on August 18 last year.
The death, described as a tragedy, was originally thought to have happened because she wasn't wearing a life jacket and couldn't swim.
Now Royal Canadian Mounted Police have arrested and charged 54 year-old Peter Beckett with first degree murder.
Beckett served one term as a Napier city councillor from 1998 to 2001.
Police announced in June they were treating the death as a homicide, 10 months after the death.
CKNW Radio journalist Mike Bothwell said the police and crown lawyers are alleging Beckett planned the death in some way.
Canada had not had the death penalty for 40 years, so Mr Beckett could be looking at a long time behind bars if found guilty, he said.
``If he were found guilty of this charge he would get life prison term and he would not be eligible for parole for 25 years,'' he told Radio New Zealand.
``And I think Mr Beckett is in his early or mid-50s and he would not be getting out of jail till he's 80 or so at the earliest.''
``A trial on this charge is likely still along way off. In Canada it often takes a year, or a year and a half before anything comes to trial.''
But if Beckett chose to plead guilty, there would be a shorter time frame for the court proceedings he said.
Beckett is due to appear in court tomorrow.
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