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An unusual request by an accused murderer

April 29, 2014 - 5:51 PM

KAMLOOPS – A man facing charges including first degree murder and obstruction of justice was partially granted an odd request before his trial.

Peter Ernest Edward Beckett was looking for hard-copies of disclosure documents as he represents himself in court. He was charged with the first degree murder of his wife in August 2010. He is currently awaiting trial for that charge along with obstruction of justice by interfering with a police investigation after allegedly counselling a police officer to murder five people.

Beckett has represented himself in court since May 22, 2013 after dismissing four other lawyers.

The Crown has provided Beckett with electronic copies of the case files, but he applied to the court to get hard copies of the Crown's case against him. The full disclosure, if printed, would amount to approximately 33,000 pages, according to a decision released this week.

Beckett wants hard copies of files because he said he has little experience using laptops and calls himself a “two-finger typist.” He is currently in custody at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre.

Kamloops Supreme Court Justice Ian Meiklem said disclosure in computer files is “vastly more accessible, organized and searchable” but acknowledged the limitations Beckett has with the configuration of the prison laptop. The laptop’s format prevents Beckett from copying and pasting, highlighting text, or making a folder for notes.

Staff at KRCC cannot print Beckett’s disclosure due to its confidential nature.

Meiklem learned earlier that Beckett sent his computer-filed disclosure outside of KRCC. In the hearing, Beckett refused to say why he sent it, or to whom, but has said the disclosure is “in a safe place.”

“This was a completely irresponsible, counter-productive and time-wasteful action,” Meiklem wrote in his judgment.

Beckett’s request for hard copies faces an additional challenge—the prison has limited printing facilities. KRCC staff said they are off limits because inmates create weapons out of printers. They said ink is a hot commodity among inmates as it’s used for tattoos.

Meiklem granted Beckett permission to make “reasonable” requests for hard copies of documents from the Crown on an ongoing basis.

The documents, expected to total around 500 sheets, will include narratives, witness lists and electronic disclosure indices.

Beckett has been obligated to return the original e-disclosure and DVDs to the Crown.

Beckett’s murder trial is set for January 2015.

To contact a reporter for this story, email gbrothen@infotelnews.ca, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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