Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Your daily dose of non-hate crime black-on-white murder.

Peter Foster (left) and his victim Heather Cooper

Daily Mail: A former police detective battered his partner senseless with a baseball bat in front of their two young children after a petty row over a missing baby changing bag.

Peter Foster, 36, bludgeoned police constable Heather Cooper and then stabbed her in the throat just weeks after she had given birth.

He then drove her body to a wood and buried the 33-year-old in a shallow grave before sending a series of texts from her mobile phone to try to create an alibi.

When he was eventually arrested for the murder – described by a judge as ‘wicked, savage and senseless’ – Foster led officers to her body but insisted he had acted in self-defence.

But after an agonising eight-month wait for her family, his flimsy explanation was yesterday exposed as pure fiction.

The former detective constable, who left the Surrey force in disgrace after receiving a suspended jail sentence for drink-driving in 2010, changed his plea to guilty as a result.

Foster was jailed for life and ordered to serve at least 17 years by Judge Richard Brown at Lewes Crown Court who described him as an ‘extremely dangerous individual’.

In a victim impact statement Miss Cooper’s parents, James and Caroline Cooper, said the murder had an unimaginable impact on the two children who witnessed the attack.

Joshua, who is now three, and Isabel, who was only three months old at the time, had been handed a life sentence by the loss of their devoted mother, they said.

On the day of the murder Joshua, a ‘normally playful’ little boy, was asked where his mother was. Subdued and quiet he simply replied: ‘Sleeping.’

‘Joshua was present when his mother was brutally murdered. We cannot envisage what he is experiencing and what is going on in the mind of this three-year-old,’ they said.

The court was told how the couple had been to a christening on October 16 when an argument started about a missing baby changing bag.

They sat with their backs to each other in the church and left early without attending the reception, Benjamin Aina QC, prosecuting, said.

The row continued when the couple returned to their £700,000 home in Haslemere, Surrey.

Foster, who was known to have a ‘short fuse’, later claimed Miss Cooper, an ‘exceptional’ officer with Surrey Police, swiped at him with a knife while he was carrying Isabel.

He told police that, in self-defence, he hit her once with a baseball bat. She then left the room and he later found her with a knife through her throat.

In reality, Miss Cooper had been hit more than ten times with the bat, whilst the stabbing had happened after she was unconscious, post-mortem results revealed.

Foster had, in fact, taken time to clean up the blood-soaked crime scene and taken Miss Cooper’s body to Blackdown Woods, near Lurgashall, West Sussex, where he covered it with bracken.

He also made several trips to the home of his grandmother, Marguerite Halkins, where he had left his two children. Foster later contacted Miss Cooper’s mother by text, pretending to be her daughter and reassuring her all was well.

He then told his cousin, David Foster, some of the details about what happened and he alerted police. When officers arrived at Miss Halkins’ home, Foster told them: ‘You should arrest me’. When they asked him what for, he replied: ‘Murder’.

Philippa McAtasney QC, mitigating, said Foster had expressed ‘genuine remorse’. ‘He knows he has ruined all of their lives and knows that nothing he can say can undo the pain and the hurt that everyone feels,’ she said.

She said he left the police after a nine-year career after he was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for a year, for drink-driving and danger- ous driving.

Miss Cooper, who grew up in York, joined Surrey Police in 2003 and worked in the Public Protection Investigation Unit based at Guildford.

During her career she received several letters of praise from senior officers for her work on various crimes and in 2009 was given a commendation by the force for her ‘professionalism, dedication and commitment’.

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