Alleged life insurance fraud lands politician in Canadian court

Life insurance fraud is one of the central issues in a murder trial of a New Zealand politician in Canada

by Paul Lucas

Life insurance is at the centre of a Canada murder trial involving a former New Zealand politician and his wife.

Peter Beckett, 59, is alleged, by the prosecution, to have killed his wife Laura Letts-Beckett on August 18, 2010, in an effort to secure financial gain after taking out a series of accidental-death benefits and life insurance policies for the now deceased.

Beckett, born in Hastings, New Zealand, served on the council In Napier City in 1998 before making the move to Canada where he married Ms Letts-Beckett. The two had met at Cape Kidnappers back in 1995 as part of a tourist venture.

However, while the two were on holiday in Upper Arrow Lake in 2010, an alleged fishing accident occurred that resulted in Letts-Beckett drowning.

Police have alleged that the accused pushed his wife overboard, leading to her drowning. However, Beckett has denied these claims – instead stating that wind blew his wife off the boat. He insists that he made attempts to save her, but he was unsuccessful.

At the trial, taking place in Kamloops, British Columbia, Crown prosecutor Sarah Firestone stated that the accused had killed his wife “deliberately for financial gain” highlighting that he would be able to live the rest of his life in the house she owned and collect her pension as a schoolteacher.

The mother of the deceased, Beth Letts, was also in court claiming that Beckett was “overbearing and domineering” within the relationship and that the two had separated four years after their marriage in 2003 when Ms Letts-Beckett alleged to police that she was physically abused by her husband.

The trial continues.