June 19, 2014 - 2:56 PM
KAMLOOPS - A man accused of murdering his wife by pushing her off a boat during a vacation in B.C.'s Interior has told a judge that he won't turn over computer equipment he smuggled out of jail.
Alberta resident Peter Beckett, 57, appeared in B.C. Supreme Court for a monthly case-management meeting leading up to his trial in January on charges of first-degree murder, counselling to commit murder and obstruction of justice.
He told Justice Ian Meiklem that he has computer hard drives and DVDs containing RCMP evidence against him. Officials at the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre can't explain the material's disappearance.
In April, Meiklem ordered the Crown to disclose some of its evidence to Beckett on paper, rather than electronically.
However, Meiklem wrote in the order that Beckett won’t receive the latest round of disclosure until he arranges for the hardware and disks to be returned to the Crown.
Beckett told Meiklem he is appealing that decision and won’t return the materials.
“Disclosure is property of the public, not the property of the Crown to secure a conviction. The answer is no," said Beckett, who called the process a kangaroo court and told Meiklem his judgment on disclosure was in error.
While acknowledging “I am out of my depth” with some of the legal proceedings and complexity of the law, Beckett refuses to be represented by a defence lawyer.
He said he has been poorly represented by a series of four lawyers over three years — all of whom contributed to a legal bill he said cost taxpayers $100,000.
Meiklem agreed he may have to appoint an amicus curiae — a lawyer-appointed “friend of the court” — to help Beckett before his trial, including admissibility of Crown evidence.
The Crown alleges Beckett killed his school-teacher wife Laura Letts-Beckett, 50, by pushing her off a boat at Shelter Bay, south of Revelstoke, in 2010.
Beckett, who is originally from New Zealand, where he once served as a town councillor, was arrested a year later and charged with first-degree murder.
Police also allege Beckett plotted to kill five witnesses — including Letts-Beckett’s parents, an RCMP sergeant and an Alberta lawyer — while behind bars.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2014