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

City sells former RCMP building, land to province

Construction of new courthouse in Red Deer one step closer to reality

City increases parking rates by 25%

Red Deerians expected to pay increase in early fine payments

RCMP make arrests after bank robbery

Two suspects are in custody after using a needle to rob a CIBC in north Red Deer

WATCH: Lowe’s officially opens its doors in Red Deer

New retailer has created 128 permanent jobs

WATCH: Lacombe and Red Deer Chambers prepare members for cannabis legalization

Luncheon speaker educates businesses on marijuana policies

Suspected Toronto serial killer targeting gay community arrested

A 66-year-old man is charged with first-degree murder in disappearance of two Toronto men

Barenaked Ladies, Steven Page, to be inducted into Canadian Music Hall of Fame

Canadian band to get top honours at 2018 JUNO Awards

B.C. out of the running for Amazon’s next headquarters

Toronto is the only Canadian city left in the running despite the province backing Metro Vancouver’s bid for new Amazon headquarters

Post interest rate hike debt tips

What to do about your debt and mortgages after the interest rate hike

Foreign workers sleeping in Alberta Burger King basement

Alberta Health Services said its inspectors found foreign workers sleeping in the basement of the Lethbridge restaurant

Court application halts release of bread price-fixing documents

Bread price-fixing documents won’t be unsealed Thursday, Loblaw says

Pharrell and N.E.R.D to headline NBA All-Star halftime show

11-time Grammy winner Pharrell and his hip hop-rock band N.E.R.D. will headline the halftime show at the 2018 NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles

Heritage Minister wants zero tolerance for harassment in entertainment industry

Heritage Minister Melanie Joly had two meetings to discuss harassment in the film, TV and theatre worlds

Most Read