New trial date for Peter Beckett

By Doug Laing -
ACCUSED: Peter Beckett will again stand trial for the murder of his wife. A previous jury could not reach a verdict.
ACCUSED: Peter Beckett will again stand trial for the murder of his wife. A previous jury could not reach a verdict.

A new trial for murder-accused former Napier City councillor Peter Beckett has been set to start in the British Columbia Supreme Court in Kamloops, Canada, on May 15.

Beckett was charged with murder a year after his second wife Laura Letts-Beckett died on August 18, 2010, during the couple's fishing excursion on Upper Arrow Lake, near Revelstoke, about 560 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

She was reported at the time of the death to have drowned.

Beckett, now aged 60, is accused of killing his wife, a Canadian schoolteacher, to profit from her inheritance, insurance and their house.

But he denies the charge, along with others alleging he plotted to kill five would-be Crown witnesses in the trial, including his wife's parents, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police sergeant, and a lawyer.

Following several months of hearings in 2015 related to admissibility of evidence, his trial started in Kamloops last January and included his claims that Ms Letts-Beckett had been suicidally depressed, and either committed suicide or drowned accidentally.

But the trial ended after three months with the jury unable to reach verdicts and Beckett was ordered to undergo a new trial.

Raised in Hastings, Beckett was running a business taking tours groups from Napier to Cape Kidnappers when he became a Napier councillor in 1998.

He served a three-year-term, but he did not stand for re-election and moved to Canada, where he married the then Ms Betts whom he was reported to have met while operating the tours.

The judge was reported to have been told in a note from the jury foreman that there had been one dissenting voice, and Beckett claimed in a prison interview it had been an 11-1 vote for acquittal, and that the proceedings had been a "kangaroo court."

He now has another lawyer, at least the sixth he has had representing him in the long-running proceeds, in addition to acting for himself.

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