Former New Zealand politician found guilty of murder

Peter Beckett was found guilty of first-degree murder by a Kelowna jury in death of his wife.

Peter Beckett has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the mysterious 2010 drowning of his wife.

The seven men, five women Kelowna jury returned with the verdict Saturday.

He was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

Crown’s case against Beckett was larHe gely circumstantial with only one piece of direct evidence before the jury — the statement the former New Zealand politician gave within a day of Aug. 18, 2010, when Laura Letts-Beckett drowned on Upper Arrow Lakes.

MOTIVE

Crown counsel Iain Currie told the jury of seven men and five women that the direct evidence available to them was enough to prove Beckett killed his wife for personal gain.

In that statement Beckett tells police that when his wife hit the water, she thrashed about and screamed. As she struggled to stay afloat, he relied on a “fisherman’s instinct” and reeled in the line to his fishing rod. As he did, his boat floated past his wife and by the time he turned around she had been submerged.

“We say Mr. Beckett murdered his wife, just to be clear,” said Currie. “We’re saying the fact he didn’t save her when that would have been easy — easy to try, instinctive to try, unavoidable to try, unless you don’t want to. The fact he didn’t save his wife is evidence that he pushed her out.”

PLANS WITH CONMAN

Currie told jurors that when Beckett said that he had a fisherman’s instinct and no instinct to save his wife, it’s because he’s lying.

“He’s lying because he pushed her in,” said Currie. “The evidence is that he wanted her dead and he pushed her in.”

Supporting that argument, he said, is evidence that the couple took out an accidental death policy two months before the drowning, Beckett had jail house conversations with a known conman about getting rid of witnesses who could make him look guilty of killing his wife and he was fixated on getting an inheritance from his wife’s wealthy parents.

Beckett’s lawyer told jurors that wasn’t enough to convict Beckett.

Marilyn Sandford argued the day before there was no incentive for murder and if her client was motivated by money at all, he’d be better off keeping his wife alive. As a longtime school teacher Letts-Beckett made a good wage that couldn’t be replaced by the pension she’d leave behind which, including CPP, amounted to around $2,600 a month.

He was, in short, a grieving husband who acted strangely in the days after he lost his wife in traumatic circumstances.

This wasn’t Beckett’s first trial.

His first trial took place in Kamloops over four months in 2016. In the end it was considered a mistrial, with jurors reaching an 11-1 impasse. It is not known what outcome was being sought by the majority.

In the end, a single B.C. juror stood in the way of whether Peter Beckett would walk free—or be declared a murderer—after the mysterious 2010 boating accident that left his wife Laura Letts-Beckett dead.

“No one testified, ‘I saw Mr. Beckett cause the death of his wife’ … there isn’t a smoking gun,” said closing statements by Beckett’s defense lawyer, according to reporting by Kamloops This Week.

That trial also hinged largely on circumstantial evidence.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Park Letts, father of murder victim Laura Letts.—Kathy Michaels/Capital News

Just Posted

Ridge Meadows RCMP looking for two credit card scammers

Pair of women completed fraudulent transactions at seven locations in May

UPDATE: Free film for Ridge residents to mark Plastic Free July extended another week

The Story of Plastic can be viewed for free on any device until July 21

Maple Ridge considers weekend closures of the main drag

Vehicle traffic would make way for pedestrians and cyclists

Maple Ridge goaltender taking talents to Junior A squad in Saskatchewan

Eric Clark, 18, undefeated with North VanWolf Pack this season; graduated from SRT with straight As

BC SPCA asking Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to take the No Hot Pets pledge

The BC SPCA receives nearly 1,000 calls a year about hot animals in cars

21 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in B.C. as virus ‘silently circulates’ in broader community

Health officials urge British Columbians to enjoy summer safely as surge continues

Tough time for tree fruits as some B.C. farm products soar

Province reports record 2019 sales, largely due to cannabis

Abbotsford woman starts petition to have B.C. government help with IVF costs

Jennifer Kuiken says cost of in vitro fertilization is too high for most people

‘Let’s all do a self-check’: Okanagan mayor reacts to racist vandalism targeting local family

Home of Indo-Canadian family in Summerland was targeted on evening of July 13

Province agrees to multimillion-dollar payout for alleged victims of Kelowna social worker

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of misappropriating funds of children — often Indigenous — in his care

B.C. businessman David Sidoo gets 3 months behind bars for college admissions scam

Sidoo was sentenced for hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons

PHOTOS: Inside a newly-listed $22M mega-mansion on ALR land in B.C.

The large home, located on ALR land, is one of the last new mansions to legally be built on ALR land

COVID-19 gives B.C. First Nation rare chance to examine tourism’s impact on grizzly bears

With 40 infrared cameras deployed in Kitasoo-Xai’Xais territory, research will help develop tourism plan with least impact on bears

RCMP searching for culprit behind needle-filled lemons left on Coquitlam-area trails

The two lemons found were thrown away leaving police with little evidence

Most Read