January trial for man accused of killing his wife at Shelter Bay

Man accused of killing his wife by pushing her off boat near Revelstoke is scheduled to stand trial for six months starting January of 2015.

This file photo of Peter Beckett dates from his time as a city councillor in New Zealand.

By Cam Fortens, Kamloops This Week

A man accused of killing his wife by pushing her off a boat at a lake near Revelstoke is scheduled to stand trial in January of 2015.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ian Meiklem has set aside six months for Peter Beckett’s trial by jury on charges of first-degree murder, counselling to commit murder and obstruction of justice.

If it lasts as long as it is scheduled, the trial will mark one of the longest in recent memory at the Kamloops Law Courts.

Beckett, a native New Zealander and a massive man who dwarfs sheriffs and lawyers in the courtroom, is a former alderman in that country.

It’s been 32 months since he was arrested and charged with his wife’s murder.

The Crown alleges he killed Laura Letts-Beckett, 50, by pushing her off a boat at Shelter Bay, south of Revelstoke, in 2010.

He was arrested a year later.

Police also believe Beckett plotted to kill five witnesses — including Letts-Beckett’s parents, an RCMP sergeant and an Alberta lawyer — while behind bars.

Beckett has spent his time at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre, where he said he is locked up 22 hours a day.

There, he has been filing applications alleging abuse of process, bias by police and court officials and failure of Crown to disclose documents.

Meiklem recently handed down a ruling that allowed Beckett access to the large majority of paper documents he sought.

The Crown was planning to give him electronic access, but Beckett complained he was not comfortable with technology and accused officials with tampering with electronic documents.

“I’ve read your decision,” he told Meiklem on Monday, April 28.

“[The world] ‘surprising,’ ‘credulous’, ‘inaccurate’ and ‘biased’ come to mind,” Beckett complained.

Meiklem replied: “I thought the decision was in your favour, more or less.”

Beckett is now appealing some decisions made on his applications, but Meiklem warned that won’t delay trial.

“You haven’t been diligent on your defence,” Meiklem said.

“You’ve been diligent on the offensive side.”

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