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

Peter Beckett is on trial in Kelowna for the 2010 murder of his wife near Revelstoke.

With his sights set on an insurance policy payout and what he believed to be his piece of a cattle ranching fortune, Peter Beckett killed his wife and plotted to get rid of anyone who made it look like more than a tragic accident, a Kelowna jury heard Monday.

Evan Goulet, Crown counsel in the second-degree murder trial that started this week, told jurors in his opening statement, that on Aug. 18, 2010 Beckett and Laura Letts-Beckett got in their zodiac and went to a small, unnamed cove on Upper Arrow Lake, near Revelstoke. There, with nobody else around, the Alberta schoolteacher drew her last breath.

Beckett, a former New Zealand town councillor, told at least one person in the aftermath that his wife fell off the zodiac, slipped underwater and he didn’t notice until it was too late, said Goulet.

“He saw her under the water flailing,” said Goulet, explaining how the story was told by Beckett. “He tried to get down to save her, but he couldn’t. He went to shore, grabbed a rock, swam back to her with the rock, and sunk down to her … to get his wife.”

At some point Beckett flagged down another boater, who tried to no avail to help revive Letts-Beckett who was lying on the shoreline. A subsequent autopsy confirmed the death was caused by drowning.

Two years later, when he was in pre-trial custody after a police investigation led to him being charged with murder, Beckett told his cellmate that version of the story and his cellmate told him, “you’re f**ked.”

That’s when, according to Goulet, Beckett tried to pay the man to “physically harm potential witnesses in the trial.”

“When Mr. Beckett was trying to hire (the cellmate) to harm potential witnesses he would talk about how the two of them could live comfortably on the money Mr. Beckett was going to get from his wife’s death,” Goulet told jurors.

Letts-Beckett had been a school teacher, and shared ownership of a condo with her husband. She had little else in her estate.

Beckett, however, had taken out an accidental death insurance policy on both himself and his wife months before her death. That was discovered by police when they were investigating the case, said Goulet.

And Letts-Beckett’s parents are “wealthy, elderly cattle ranchers from Alberta,” said Goulet.

The five-woman, seven-man jury will hear a phone call recorded after Letts-Beckett’s death, where Beckett can be heard talking about the inheritance and his willingness to go to court to get what he said was owed to him.

Supreme Court Justice Alison Beames told jurors that the scenario described in opening statements was more of a road map, than evidence.

To make its case, Crown counsel will introduce 19 witnesses including Beckett’s cell mate, who was expected on the witness stand Tuesday.

The first of those witnesses to testify was Alberta lawyer Raymond Bruce Barlow.

He told jurors that Beckett went to his office and asked for copies of Letts-Beckett’s will—one drawn up in the mid ’90s and another completed in 2007. Neither named Beckett as a beneficiary or executor.

When he momentarily left his office following the discussion, Barlow said Beckett rifled through his files.

Barlow then kicked him out and said they wouldn’t be dealing with him without a lawyer.

Crown is expected to complete presentation of its evidence in a week and a half.

Check kelownacapnews.com for updates on this story from testimony late Tuesday.

 

Just Posted

Gold for Kelowna’s Kelsey Serwa

Kelsey Serwa wins the gold medal in thrilling fashion in PyeongChang

RCMP search for missing couple

The couple was last seen leaving their home in Kelowna for Kamloops

Arson considered for Rutland house fire

The fire on Argyll Road last week destroyed the home’s carport

Okanagan real estate agents brace for speculation tax impact

“There’s a real potential for a domino effect to hurt the market in Kelowna.”

Crime Stoppers search for Lake Country suspects

The Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers need your help in finding perpetrator

B.C. Games open with Olympic touch

The 2018 B.C. Winter Games kicked off in Kamloops

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Great Big Sea fame shares story of abuse, recovery

Séan McCann performs in Vernon March 4 and Kelowna March 5

More snow expected on the Coquihalla, Highway 3

Environment Canada says five to 10 centimetres will come down between Friday and Saturday mornings

New charges against ex-Trump campaign associates

More charges were laid Thursday against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and his business associate

Man accused in death of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine not guilty

Raymond Cormier was accused of killing Indigenous 15-year-old and dumping her body in the Red River

Alberta drops B.C. wine boycott, Notley says Horgan ‘blinked’ on pipeline

B.C. government announces court reference on proposed diluted bitumen restriction

UPDATE: Northern Health dealing with lack of 121 registered nurses

Auditor General says officials need to improve internal management, track effect of new policies

B.C. businesses say new health tax will raise prices for consumers

Province announced that MSP will be gone by 2020

Most Read