A court in Canada was early today expected to set a new date for the second trial of former Napier City councillor Peter Beckett, who is charged with murdering second wife Laura Letts-Beckett seven years ago.

A jury was unable to reach a verdict after seven days of deliberations following the first trial from January to April last year in the British Columbia Supreme Court in Kamloops.

In a jailhouse interview, Beckett later claimed the jury had been 11-1 in favour of acquittal after a trial he called a "kangaroo court".

A retrial had been scheduled to start this week, but the court was today expected to schedule a start date next month, or possibly in August.


Ms Letts-Beckett, a Canadian schoolteacher, died on August 18, 2010, in what was originally reported as a boating mishap and drowning on Upper Arrow Lake, near Shelter Bay Provincial Park camping ground, near Revelstoke, about 560km northeast of Vancouver.

A year later Peter Becket, now aged about 60, was charged with murder, and later also with plotting to kill five possible trial witnesses - Ms Letts-Beckett's parents, a cousin, a lawyer and a Royal Canadian Mounted Police sergeant.

Beckett, who grew up in Hastings, was elected to the Napier City Council in 1998, at which time he was also running a tour business taking people from Napier to Cape Kidnappers, and met the then Ms Letts on one excursion.

Claiming council corruption and vowing to stamp it out, he completed just one term on the council and then left for Canada.

The Crown claims Beckett murdered his wife to profit from an inheritance, insurance and their house. A prisoner turned state informant told the court Beckett gave him a list of names of people he wanted the inmate to "take out" on the fellow inmate's release.

The inmate told a court that after thinking about the proposition he decided to do something "right" and informed investigators.