Bay man held in Canada on murder charge

By Doug Laing

Murder-accused former Napier City councillor Peter Beckett is still awaiting a preliminary hearing in Canada, a year after being charged in relation to the fishing-trip death of his second wife.

Beckett, now 55, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Laura Letts Beckett, a popular school teacher who died on August 18, 2010, on Arrow Lake, a man-made reservoir at Revelstoke, 100km east of Salmon Arm, British Columbia.

Reports said Beckett told the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) the couple was fishing in an inflatable boat when his wife fell out. Without a life-jacket and unable to swim, she died.

Beckett told police it was too late by the time he lifted her out, reports said.

The RCMP told Canadian media in June 2011 that an inquiry into the death was active and ongoing.

On August 12, 2011 they arrested Beckett at a rural property outside Christina Lake, about 360km south of Revelstoke.

The hearing was to have been held over three days next week, but a spokesman for Salmon Arm Provincial Court in British Columbia told Hawke's Bay Today the case has been deferred to August 28 for the setting of a hearing date.

If a trial is held, it will most likely be held in one of three nearby bigger court centres - Vernon, Kelowna or Kamloops, all within two hours of Salmon Arm, a small tourist destination and forestry town on the shores of Shuswap Lake between Vancouver and Calgary on the Trans Canada Highway.

Beckett, who grew up mainly in Hastings, was a city councillor in Napier from 1998 to 2001, and ran a tourism business using an ex-army Unimog vehicle to transport visitors to and from Cape Kidnappers.

He left his family in Hawke's Bay in 2004 and settled in rural Alberta where he got a job driving a school bus and remarried.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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