Jury still deciding whether former New Zealand politician killed his wife

The Kelowna jury in the Peter Beckett murder trial is still deliberating

Kelowna jurors have now been deliberating for four days on the fate of a former New Zealand politician accused of killing his wife.

The case against the six-foot-nine, 400-pound accused referred to as “Man Mountain” in his home country was largely circumstantial, much like the previous case against him. In a previous multi-month trial in Kamloops, a jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision on the charge of murder after more than a week of deliberations, triggering the retrial that happened in Kelowna.

There is one piece of direct evidence before the jury — the statement Beckett gave within a day of Aug. 18,2010, when Laura Letts-Beckett drowned on Upper Arrow Lakes.

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.”

RELATED: MONEY MOTIVATION?

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 that could make him look guilty of killing his wife and he was fixated on getting an inheritance from his wife’s wealthy parents.

Defence told jurors that this wasn’t enough to convict Beckett.

“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.”

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.”

That, he said, puts the decision to take out an accidental death policy just a month before his wife’s death, and allegations that he plotted with a known criminal to rid himself of witnesses posed to testify against him in the years after her death in a very suspicious light.

Marilyn Sandford, the defence lawyer for Beckett argued the day before that 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.

Also, she said that the $200,000 accidental death policy taken out in the months before Letts-Beckett drowned aren’t significant of much, considering she’d previously had similar — though not accidental death — insurance coverage in the past.

“Where is the planning and deliberation? When did it start? …Was Peter Beckett planning and deliberating in 2006 when he bought the motorhome? ‘Well let’s buy that and get life insurance on that debt. Four years from now I will kill you and I will get that money.’”

It doesn’t make sense, she told jurors.

Sandford also described Beckett’s post death behaviour as a symptom of trauma and grief.

Just Posted

Over 60 cats and kittens rescued by South Okanagan-Similkameen SPCA

The rescue had to close its doors for the day on Sept. 18 to assess, vaccinate, and feed the animals

Man sentenced for fatal Christmas Eve collision near Penticton

Crown said they could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that man was impaired

South Okanagan Indo-Canadian pledge for hospital expansion recieves large boost

Jaswinder Garib has donated $30,000 to the $500,000 pledge

COLUMN: From pot to policing

I am sure the cannabis legalization on Oct 17 will be the number one issue on everyone’s minds

LocoLanding flowers bring joy to others in Penticton

LocoLanding Amusement Park sends flowers to Penticton residents

U.S. congressman issues dire warning to Canada’s NAFTA team: time is running out

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to resume talks with the U.S.

Who’s running in Penticton’s election?

Candidates for the Penticton municipal and school board election

B.C. marijuana workers may face U.S. border scrutiny

Cannabis still illegal federally south of the border

Symphony giants launch 59th Okanagan Symphony Orchestra season

Concerts in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon Sept. 21-23

New political party holds an informational session in Vernon

Maxime Bernier’s The People’s Party of Canada draws about 2o interested patrons to Vernon pub.

B.C. MLAs reminded of rural school struggles

Finance committee hears of falling enrolment, staff shortages

B.C. VIEWS: ’Not photo radar’ coming soon to high-crash areas

ICBC deficit now largely due to reckless and distracted driving

Researchers tag great white shark in Atlantic Canada

Information will be used to learn more about where white sharks move in Canadian waters

Mix-up of bodies leads to funeral home reforms in Nova Scotia

One woman was was mistakenly cremated, another was embalmed and presented to family members during a visitation that went horribly wrong

Most Read