Accused murderer Peter Beckett was a newly-minted city councillor when this 1998 photo was taken. He is now facing trial for murder in the 2010 drowning death of his wife Laura Letts-Beckett at Shelter Bay.

Accused in Shelter Bay drowning a former Kiwi city councillor

Revelstoke has been mentioned again and again in the New Zealand press over the past week, but they were unfortunately not previewing the upcoming ski season.

Revelstoke has been mentioned again and again in the New Zealand press over the past week, but they were unfortunately not previewing the upcoming ski season.

They’ve picked up on the story of accused murderer Peter Beckett, 54, who stands charged in the August, 2010 drowning death of his wife Laura Letts-Beckett at Shelter Bay.

The New Zealand Herald reports that Beckett was a one-term city councillor in the eastern coastal town of Napier, on New Zealand’s North Island.

Current Napier mayor Barbara Arnott panned Beckett’s term from 1998 to 2001, saying he was a “stirrer” who didn’t contribute much to the city or the council.

Other New Zealand media reports paint the picture of an outsider who campaigned on an anti-corruption platform and didn’t gel with his fellow politicians once elected.

He was known for a couple of embarrassing incidents. His fellow councillors confronted him about his habit of leaving city social get-togethers with bottles of council-funded liquor in his pockets.

In another incident while councillor, he allegedly confronted a rugby team at a local pub, smacking the captain in the face while braying about his status as a city councillor. He was later made to apologize for the incident.

Beckett is reported to have left his wife and four young children in New Zealand seven years ago, moving to Canada. His ex-wife hadn’t heard from him since then, until the RCMP called with questions about the alleged homicide.

Most recently, he worked as a school bus driver for the Pembina Hills Regional School Division north of Edmonton. Laura Letts-Beckett was a long-serving elementary school teacher in that district.

Her family members have issued a statement through the RCMP: “We are relieved that the investigation is over, as a family we are waiting for the justice system to take its course. Please respect our family’s privacy as we remember the anniversary of Laura’s death.”

Beckett is charged with first degree murder, a charge that indicates prosecutors believe there was likely some level of planning involved in the death.

Beckett is scheduled for a court appearance in Salmon Arm this week.

Beckett reported that his wife fell off a small boat while they were fishing near Shelter Bay in August of 2010, saying she couldn’t swim and he was unable to save her. At the time, it appeared to be an accident. Revelstoke RCMP issued the almost obligatory statement about the importance of wearing a lifejacket while boating.

In June of this year, the RCMP revealed an ongoing homicide investigation into the incident.