KAMLOOPS, B.C. — Allowing a man charged with first-degree murder to represent himself in court would be like letting a judge launch a NASA rocket, the accused heard Wednesday.
Peter Beckett, 57, told a B.C. Supreme Court judge that he disagreed with a decision to appoint a lawyer who would file applications on his behalf.
“I can’t appoint somebody for you if you don’t want them,” Justice Ian Meiklem said.
“My decision to appoint counsel relates to my assessment of your ability to do the right thing by yourself in terms of the disclosure application.”
“You don’t think I have the intellect to represent myself?” asked Beckett, who is charged with killing his wife in 2010.
“It’s not about intellect,” Meiklem replied. “It’s about knowledge and expertise.”
“You think I’m lacking in those?” Beckett asked.
“Well, yes,” Meiklem said. “It would be like me walking into NASA headquarters and saying, ‘I’m going to take over this rocket launch now.’ I’m just not equipped to do it no matter what my intellect might be.”
Beckett, who most recently lived in Alberta and served as a town councillor in his native New Zealand from 1998 to 2001, was in court to set a date to hear arguments on his disclosure application.
He is scheduled to return to court on April 15.
Beckett is alleged to have murdered his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett, 50, by pushing her off a boat at Shelter Bay, south of Revelstoke, in 2010 while the couple was believed to be on vacation from their home in Edmonton.
The drowning was first believed to have been an accident, but Beckett was arrested a year later.
In late 2012, while Beckett was in custody charged with murder, additional charges of counselling to commit murder and obstructing justice were laid following an undercover jailhouse investigation by RCMP.
Police allege Beckett plotted from behind bars to kill five witnesses including Letts-Beckett’s parents, an RCMP sergeant and an Alberta lawyer.
In February, Beckett applied to be given paper copies of all disclosure, but the Crown argued that was impractical compared to digital versions.
The matter is complicated by the fact that B.C. Corrections is opposed to Beckett having access to a computer, which he would need to review the digital disclosure while he is in a Kamloops jail.
Most recently, Beckett worked as a school bus driver in Westlock, Alta.