A FORMER policeman has pleaded guilty to the murder of Surrey Police detective Heather Cooper who was found in a shallow grave in a Sussex woodland.
Peter Foster, 36, also a former Surrey Police detective, had previously denied killing the mother-of-two but changed his plea at Lewes Crown Court today (June 26).
â€‹Heather Cooper, 33, was found dead in woodland in Sussex
He was given a life sentence and will serve a minimum of 17 years in jail.
Heather Cooper, who lived with Foster at her home in Haslemere, was found in Blackdown Woods near Lurgashall, West Sussex, in October 2011. She had been beaten around the head and had her throat cut.
An examination carried out at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, gave the preliminary cause of her death as blunt force trauma to the head and incised wound to the throat.
Foster was arrested following the discovery of Heather’s body in the National Trust woodland in the early hours of October 17.
Heather was a serving detective constable with Surrey Police having joined the force in 2003 and worked in the Public Protection Investigation Unit based at Guildford Police Station.
She was on maternity leave at the time of her death having given birth to a daughter in August 2011.
The couple, who had been together since 2007, also have a three-year-old son.
Peter Foster has been jailed for at least 17 years
Foster resigned from Surrey Police in 2009. At the time of his resignation he was suspended from duty and facing disciplinary action for an incident which occurred whilst he was off duty in Hampshire. He went on to set up a business as a self-employed plumber.
In 2010, Heather disclosed to friends that her relationship with Foster had become strained.
He would often lose his temper over trivial matters, start arguments, and smash up items around the house in anger.
She later said she had considered leaving him but was persuaded to stay and they discussed getting him help with anger management.
On October 16 2011, the couple and their children attended a friend’s christening in Farncombe but left early at around 11.30am following a row over a lost bag.
Just before 3pm, Foster was seen on CCTV buying alcohol in a supermarket close to their home. It is believed the attack on Heather took place shortly after this time.
Later that afternoon Foster made a number of trips to a relative’s house in Witley where he dropped off the children. During these trips he revealed he had bloodied sheets in the back of his car which he needed help to destroy and made reference to having ‘done something stupid’. His behaviour caused concern for Heather’s welfare and that evening the police were contacted.
Officers from Surrey Police attended the family home in Haslemere where they found blood in the living room.
A knife and a baseball bat were later recovered from black bin liners in the garage. Foster was arrested on suspicion of murder and led police to an area of woodland where Heather’s body was found in the early hours of October 17 hidden under some bracken.
Senior investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Nick May, of Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, said: “Foster was a volatile man whose actions that day have destroyed this young family. On the afternoon of October 16, he viciously attacked Heather striking her repeatedly and with extreme force.
“His attempt to cover up his crime by hiding her body and trying to dispose of evidence shows he was thinking only of himself.
“This has been a sad and difficult time for Heather’s family. Our thoughts remain very much with them and in particular her two children.”
Former policeman jailed for murder of Surrey Police detective Heather Cooper
And: Life term for ‘savage’ murder of PC Heather Cooper
Read also: The Heather Cooper Fund