July 03, 2015 - 2:02 PM
KAMLOOPS - A Kamloops newspaper has been ordered to remove two stories from its website after publishing evidence expected to be heard in a jury trial for first-degree murder tentatively set for this fall.
Peter Beckett, born 1961, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife Laura Letts, among other charges of obstructing justice. Jury selection was expected to be completed in the coming months followed shortly by a trial date, but it's unclear how the trial will proceed following a series of stories by Kamloops This Week.
In court hearings and in stories this week, it was revealed that Beckett gave several media outlets, including Kamloops This Week, the Crown’s entire case against him, as well as interviews essentially disclosing his defence and his side of the story.
The newspaper removed two of those stories today and in their place, included the judge's order for removal.
Crown prosecutor Sarah Firestone notified media last week that she intended to seek a ban on publication on information not yet before the court. When the newspaper printed its first story earlier this week, she expedited the process to try and stop the planned series.
Beckett has no lawyer so Firestone said it fell on her to protect due process and his right to a fair trial under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She said disclosing the information risks compromising the pool of jurors. The trial date could be delayed or even moved as a remedy.
However the entire process is now mired in a confusing legal mess. The newspaper reported this week that Justice Ian Meiklem barred them from using certain information it obtained. In response, the paper printed the remainder of its series without information it deemed permissible by the court.
Then today, Meiklem said he made no such order. Later, he signed a new order for the newspaper to remove its stories until his decision is made. The partial order on the paper's website says nothing about the printed product.
Kamloops This Week reporter Tim Petruk said on Twitter the newspaper plans to fight the order.
Firestone said she would no longer speak to media in the case, including the most basic information about process. It’s due back in court next week for another hearing and possibly a decision on what information is permissible for publish or broadcast by the media.
Calls to the Crown's media spokesperson were not immediately returned.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015