The defence case for former Napier City councillor Peter Beckett accused of murdering his wife in Canada has rested.

The 60-year-old is standing trial at the British Columbia Supreme Court in Kelowna after he was charged with murdering his second wife, Canadian schoolteacher Laura Letts-Beckett.

She died on August 18, 2010, while the couple were boating in a small inflatable vessel in remote Shelter Bay on Upper Arrow Lake, inland northeast of Vancouver.

Her death was initially reported as a drowning, Beckett claiming she accidentally fell from the boat, however he was arrested one year after the death and his trial for first-degree murder began on August 21.


The Crown argued he pushed his wife off their boat with the intention of cashing in on her life insurance policy.

Throughout the trial the jury has heard from a number of witnesses including Calgary lawyer Raymond Bruce Barlow, who said he found Beckett searching through his files for his wife's will just months after she died.

The Daily Courier in Kelowna reported the lawyer said Beckett had come to the office to get the will and, when Mr Barlow left to find the document, leafed through a file folder belonging to his wife's parents, who are successful cattle ranchers in Alberta.

"I kicked him out of my office. I told him to leave and only deal with me through a lawyer."

The court heard Beckett offered riches and a new lifestyle in Costa Rica to a Canadian cellmate he wanted to deal with key prosecution witnesses in his trial.

The cellmate said Beckett told him a lot of money was coming his way if things were handled correctly, but that he eventually sent a letter to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police lead investigator saying Beckett was looking to have witnesses taken care of.

It was also reported that a friend of the couple told the court Ms Letts-Beckett could not swim, and was afraid of the water.

It was because of this that she would always wear a lifejacket, prosecution witness Mary Hawkins said.

A campground manager testified he had warned his staff to avoid Beckett after an intimidating encounter a few nights before the alleged murder.

He said Beckett drove his motorboat into the bay, pointed it towards the shore and then stood at the front of the bow staring the park manager down as he walked back to his truck.

"That was particularly disturbing to me as I walked down and kept looking over my shoulder at a 400-pound (181kg), six-foot (182cm) guy standing at the front of his boat staring me down," he said.

"It was uncomfortable enough of a situation that I told my staff to stay away from him."

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

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

The jury is expected to retire early next week.