'Take care of' witnesses

UPDATE: 6:45 p.m.

A former cellmate of the man accused of murdering his wife testified Tuesday that the accused asked him to take out several witnesses set to testify against him.

Peter Beckett and his wife Laura Letts-Beckett were on Upper Arrow Lake on a Zodiac inflatable on the night of Aug. 18, 2010, when Letts-Beckett drowned.

While Beckett claimed the death was an accident, or perhaps a suicide, he was arrested a year later and charged with murder.

A man who shared a cell with Beckett at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in 2012 took the stand Tuesday afternoon, testifying Beckett had had asked him to “take care of” witnesses who were set to testify against Beckett, including Letts-Beckett's parents, the Letts-Beckett's family attorney Ray Barlow, lead investigator in the case Sgt. Terry Jacklin and others.

The two shared a cell together in July, but the cellmate was set to be released the following October.

The cellmate testified that Beckett knew he “hung out with some pretty shady characters on the street” and Beckett said they could both “live a lavish lifestyle” once the job was done, as “there was a lot of money involved.”

After several weeks, during the end of July, the cellmate wrote a letter to Sgt. Jacklin, informing him about Beckett's plans.

“I think a lot of the reason I contacted Mr. Jacklin was because my sister was murdered, and it tore my family to pieces, and this kept eating at me,” the cellmate said. “The more I learned about this case (the death of Letts-Beckett), I was thinking about what that family was going through.”

The cellmate said during their time in jail together, Beckett told him Letts-Beckett had fallen off the bow of their Zodiac, and he hadn't noticed it until it was too late.

“A guy your size, sitting in a Zodiac in the stern, with an outboard motor, I said that bow would have been standing straight in the air as soon as she fell off, how you wouldn't hear that or feel that in the boat would be next to impossible,” the cellmate said. 

The cellmate will continue his testimony in the four-week trial Wednesday.  

ORIGINAL: 1:45 p.m.

A New Zealand man accused of killing his wife is back in court.

The second murder trial for Peter Beckett began in Kelowna this week, after a Kamloops jury couldn't reach a consensus following a three-month trial in April 2016.

Beckett and his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett, were vacationing near Upper Arrow Lake near Revelstoke on Aug. 18, 2010, when Letts-Beckett, 50, drowned during an evening boat ride.

A year after her death, Beckett was charged with murder.

The Crown's theory is that Beckett killed his wife to collect on her life insurance and large inheritance, while the accused claims the death was an accident.

Beckett served as a city councillor in the New Zealand city of Napier from 1998 to 2001 before moving to Canada in 2002.

The second trial was moved to Kelowna at the request of his defence, who argued the case had become too high profile in Kamloops. 

In Kelowna Tuesday morning, Josée Leaper, with BMO Insurance, testified by video from Toronto about a letter Peter Beckett sent to the insurance company on Sept. 8, 2010, just weeks after his wife's death.

Leaper said Beckett informed the insurance company about the loss of his wife, but never mentioned the death was accidental.

She also testified a claim was never filed for Letts-Beckett's $200,000 accidental death insurance, as the insurance company never received an official cause of death.

Crown evidence continues Tuesday afternoon with a former cellmate of Beckett's testifying against him.

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