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

Indigenous youth arrested during 15-hour occupation to hold press conference Wednesday morning

The speakers are expected to condemn police, RCMP actions towards Indigenous people

Southern resident orca L41 considered missing and feared dead

The orca was last spotted in Aug. 2019 when photographed in western Strait of Juan de Fuca

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

VIDEO: Saanich family competes on first season of ‘Family Feud Canada’

Charania family will face off against the Torres family from Hamilton, Ont.

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Greater Victoria’s wanted list for the week of Jan. 28

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Are you concerned about the coronavirus?

The coronavirus which has sparked concern around the globe has now arrived… Continue reading

Off-duty Nanaimo Mountie takes down would-be ice cream thief

Suspect attempted to steal Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen location on Sunday

Nanaimo man hit with pole in dispute over off-leash dog

RCMP say no charges recommended at this time

Was there a tornado on Vancouver Island Monday?

Suspected phone app glitch gives eerie warning

Work has started on Malahat Skywalk, expected completion in 2021

$15-million project expected to open in spring, 2021

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Sooke Minor Fastball to host coaching clinic

Clinic ideal for those planning to coach U6 to U18 teams

Most Read