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

Body located near Langley fire

A corpse was found near a mall off the Langley Bypass Friday morning.

Rainfall warning issued across Lower Mainland into the weekend

50 to 70 mm of rain expected to fall starting overnight Friday and into Sunday morning

EXCLUSIVE: Surrey collecting fees on more than 2,400 illegal suites, documents reveal

That works out to more than $1 million in fees collected annually

City names new tourism agency

Discover Langley City will replace the partnership with Tourism Langley.

Langley hockey fans asked to bring toys to next Giants home game

G-Men partnering with Operation Christmas Child in filling shoeboxes with toys and more.

VIDEO: Langley preps for ‘the big one’

The annual Great British Columbia Shakeout was observed around Langley.

Man in custody linked police search near Salmon Arm

Police have not connected arrest to search at Salmon River Road property

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

Search for missing B.C. man a race against winter weather

David Jeff of Williams Lake was last seen in Kamloops during the chaotic wildfire evacuations

Man steals police car, goes for a ‘slow’ ride

Mission RCMP say the motive of the theft is unknown

Dodgers punch ticket to World Series

This will be the first time the Los Angles Dodgers have made it to the World Series since 1988.

Surf group winning the war on plastic bags

The Tofino Co-op will no longer provide plastic bags, following in the footsteps of the Ucluelet location that already made the change earlier this year.

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

5 to start your day

Sentencing in murder of Surrey teen expected, Maple Ridge mayor to step away from politics and more

Most Read