Former Napier City councillor Peter Beckett has been found guilty of murdering his wife in Canada.

The jury took several days to return the verdict, finding Beckett guilty of first degree murder.

Sentencing took place immediately with Beckett receiving 25 years' imprisonment with no possibility of parole.

The 60-year-old stood trial at the British Columbia Supreme Court in Kelowna charged with the murder of his second wife, Canadian school teacher Laura Letts-Beckett.


She died on August 18, 2010, while the couple were boating in a small inflatable vessel on Upper Arrow Lake, 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 murder began on August 21.

Former Napier City Councillor Peter Beckett. Photo/ File
Former Napier City Councillor Peter Beckett. Photo/ File

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 did not seek re-election and moved to Canada, where he met and married the then Ms Letts.

Former Napier mayor Alan Dick said he wouldn't be surprised if Beckett was found guilty or not guilty, but said he was as an "unusual person in reality".

Beckett served one term between 1998 and 2001 and Dick said he had strong views on certain things around the council table and had a conspiracy mentality.

"At one stage he made very serious allegations about the CEO at the time Neil Taylor and the allegations were clearly totally unfounded."

Dick said a part from finding him difficult around the council table he would also often ring him up at night abusing him completely "out of the blue".

"It was like he flicked a switch, as he could also be charming."


A former councillor, who didn't want to be named, said he was "erratic, self-serving and obnoxious".

"And that's a fact."

Napier councillors back in 2011 said he didn't deliver around the council table and became a loner. They said he had a pattern of arriving late at councillors' get-togethers and then would leave with a bottle or two of the stocks they collectively paid for.

"That became a matter of concern to others to the point of an unexpected explanation at the table, including details of private problems."

The former Karamu High School student was known for losing his cool in public and on one occasion arrived intoxicated at a Napier bar after closing time and abused staff for now serving him.

On another occasion he met the Hawke's Bay Magpies at Shed 2 and demanded of one player "Don't you know who I am?" before slapping him in the face. Beckett apologised for the incident and said he was" playing up on the booze".