Ex-Napier councillor facing murder charge

A former Napier city councillor will stand trial for his Canadian wife's murder next January.

Peter Beckett, 57, is accused of murdering his wife by pushing her off a boat at a lake near the Canadian city of Revelstoke in 2010.

A New Zealander raised in Hawkes Bay, Beckett was elected to the Napier council in 1998, and did not seek re-election at the end of the term in 2001.

He moved to Canada about 10 years ago, later marrying Canadian school teacher Laura Letts-Beckett, 50.

They lived north of Edmonton and were on holiday when she died in what was initially thought to have been a fishing mishap on a lake near Revelstoke on August 18, 2010.

It was a year before Beckett was charged with first-degree murder.

However, proceedings were delayed when he was further charged in 2012 with offences relating to allegedly trying, while on remand in prison, to arrange the murder of five people associated with the case.

His alleged intended targets included Letts-Beckett's parents, an Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant and an Alberta lawyer.

British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Ian Meiklem has set aside six months for the jury trial, Canadian news website The Province reported.

Beckett is charged with first-degree murder, counselling to commit murder and obstruction of justice.

He is being held in custody at the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre, inland northeast of Vancouver.

Beckett has been filing applications from behind bars, alleging abuse of process, bias by police and court officials and failure of the Crown to disclose documents.

- By Brendan Manning of APNZ