Former New Zealand politician plotted multiple killings, Kelowna jury hears

Peter Beckett hatched a plan with his cellmate to kill anyone in the way of his freedom and wealth

Behind bars for his wife’s murder, Peter Beckett hatched a plan with his cellmate to kill anyone in the way of his future freedom and wealth, a jury heard Tuesday.

Beckett, a former New Zealand city councillor, was arrested and charged with murder a year after the Aug. 18, 2010 drowning of Laura Letts-Beckett in Upper Arrow Lake, near Revelstoke. While awaiting trial at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in July 2012 he told his cellmate that he didn’t deserve the charge, though his story didn’t ring true to the man who testified Tuesday.

“He explained to me he was out boating in a zodiac with his wife and told me he was positioned in a way where he was facing the stern of the boat and fishing, and his wife was up front, at the bow, and he said he didn’t notice that she’d fallen off of it. He didn’t see her flailing under water,” the former cellmate told the court Tuesday.

“And I said, ‘is that your story, is that what you said to police?’ and he said, ‘yeah,’ and I said ‘you’re f**ked.’”

The cellmate testified that he had lots of experience on the water, and a zodiac is a very buoyant boat.

A guy, such as Beckett, who is six-feet-nine inches tall and 400 pounds, sitting in the steer of the boat would feel a change in the weight.

“I said that bow would have been standing straight in the air as soon as she fell off,” he said. “‘How you didn’t feel that or hear that in the boat, that’s impossible.’”

In time Beckett changed his story, and said perhaps his wife gently lowered herself from the zodiac and slipped into the water.

That, however, wasn’t the only reason he saw a conviction in his future.

The cellmate told jurors that when he asked Beckett for details on evidence the police had and witnesses queued up to speak, he was convinced he’d be convicted.

One woman in particular, said the cellmate, had the most damming evidence.

“I said if she showed up you’re done,” he told jurors.

That seemed to trigger a reaction in Beckett and a week later, after the cellmate changed cells, Mr. Beckett showed up at his door with his bail form. The form indicated who Beckett was supposed to stay away from once he was freed— including the aforementioned woman— the Letts family and their lawyer.

Related: New Zealand man accused of killing wife for money, Kelowna jury hears

Beckett told his cellmate there was a lot of money with “wills, and properties and life insurance policies,” involved in his case.

“(Beckett) started going on about how we could live a lavish lifestyle on the outs, and how there’s a lot of money involved,” said the former cellmate.

“He knew I was getting out and I was well known in the system, and I hung out with shady characters on the street.”

As the cellmate built up his reputation as a criminal with clout, Beckett seemingly tried to win favour by bringing him weekly canteen supplies — junk food and cooking supplies that only arrive weekly.

He also talked a lot about moving to Costa Rica together if only the cellmate could kill the Letts family and the witnesses.

He told jurors that he was to take out the witness “MVA style” and the family by burning his house. Supreme Court Justice Alison Beames told them that the evidence about methodology was to be disregarded going forward.

The cellmate then testified that he sent a letter to the lead RCMP investigator sharing his conversations with Beckett.

“This case started to bother me … I think a lot of the reason I contacted (the RCMP case investigator) was my sister was murdered and it tore my family to pieces. This kept eating at me. I was thinking about what that family was going through.”

The court heard Monday, in opening statements, that Beckett had taken out a sizeable accidental death insurance policy on his wife and he had his eyes on her part of a family inheritance. The Letts family are wealthy, fourth-generation cattle ranchers from Alberta.

 

Just Posted

5 family-friendly events happening in Ladysmith this weekend

Wounded Warriors run stops in Ladysmith Get ready to cheer on the… Continue reading

UPDATE: Stolen pickup truck recovered during arrest south of Nanaimo

Two suspects were arrested in connection with a stolen pickup truck in Cassidy on Thursday evening

Adopted pet pig gets killed and eaten

Animal was adopted out by SPCA staff in the Cowichan Valley

Driver charged in two-vehicle crash on highway north of Ladysmith

Passenger in Volkswagen Jetta transported to hospital with minor injuries

WATCH: Vancouver Island man catches dashcam video of near head-on crash

Video shows oncoming van cross over centre line

Canucks fold 5-3 in first ever trip to Vegas

Daniel Sedin had two points as Canucks fall to the Golden Knights Friday night

That’s a wrap: B.C. Games results after Day 1

Vancouver-Coastal Zone 5 is in the lead for medals Friday at the Kamloops 2018 B.C. Winter Games

Construction set to begin on Nanaimo airport terminal expansion

First phase of construction project to begin in March or April

Sticking the landing at the B.C. Games

Gymnasts talk competition, B.C. Winter Games, and teamwork in Kamloops

$153M in federal cash to fund child care, education training in B.C.

Bilateral agreement will create 1,370 new infant and toddler spaces

A B.C. woman talks her life in the sex trade

A view into the life from one Kelowna prostitute and the issues it can cause for women

Twitter feed prays for — instead of preying on — B.C. MLAs

Non-partisan Christian group wants to support politicians through personalized prayer

Hundreds march for justice in death of Winnipeg teen

Tina Fontaine was pulled from a river in 2014, her body wrapped in a blanket and weighed down by rocks

Most Read