Canadian trial set for Kiwi councillor accused of murder

Former Napier city councillor Peter Beckett, pictured in 1998.
Former Napier city councillor Peter Beckett, pictured in 1998.

A New Zealand man accused of murdering his wife and later plotting to kill a witness in Canada is expected to go on trial next year in British Colombia.

Former Napier city councillor Peter Beckett, 56, has had lengthy delays with his trial starting, most recently in May after his lawyer was dropped from the case.

He has been accused of killing his wife Laura Letts-Beckett, 50, who he allegedly pushed off a boat in 2010 while the couple vacationed at Shelter Bay Provincial Park near Revelstoke.

In August 2011, Canadian Mountie police arrested Beckett and charged him with first-degree murder. In December, he was charged with obstruction of justice by plotting from inside jail to kill witnesses in the pending trial, Kamloops The Daily News (crrct) reported.

Crown lawyer Will Burrows said Beckett had fired several lawyers and was now self-represented.

He had elected to be tried by judge alone.

The trial at Kamloops Supreme Court was expected to take three months. No date had yet been set for the trial but it was expected to start sometime next year.

The case has dragged on for almost two years since his arrest.

Mrs Letts-Beckett was originally thought to have drowned in a lake when she fell from a boat because she was not wearing a life jacket and could not swim.

However, police announced in June last year they were treating her death as a homicide and Beckett was charged with first-degree murder.

A further investigation resulted in additional charges of counselling to commit murder, with Beckett's alleged targets including his wife's parents, a policeman who investigated his case and a lawyer, local media reported.

Beckett was a Napier city councillor from 1998 to 2001, and ran a tourism business.

- APNZ

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