Former PC jailed for life for murder
Peter Foster jailed for life for a minimum of 17 years for the murder of Detective Constable Heather Cooper
The Guardian / U.K.
Tuesday 26 June 2012
Heather Cooper, whose body was found in Blackdown Woods: Peter Foster has been jailed for 17 years for her murder. Photograph: Surrey Police/PA
Former police detective Peter Foster has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 17 years after pleading guilty at Lewes crown court to the murder of his partner, Detective Constable Heather Cooper, whose body was found in a shallow woodland grave.
Sentencing Foster, the judge, Richard Brown, described him as an “extremely dangerous individual” who may never be safe to be let out of prison.
He said: “This was a wicked, savage and senseless attack on a young mother in her own home.
The judge added that aggravating factors were that the attack was carried out in front of the couple’s children, that the defendant was trained in martial arts, and the ferocity of the attack, which involved two weapons.
Brown said the minimum prison term would be 17 years but it would be a matter for the parole board whether Foster would then be released.
He told him: “Whether or not you will ever be released will be a matter for them.
“Many matters may point to you being an extremely dangerous individual.
“However, that’s a matter for the parole board, not me.”
Benjamin Aina QC, prosecuting, told the court Foster carried out the attack in front of the couple’s two young children, Joshua, now three, and Isabel, who was three months old at the time.
He said the family attended the christening of the grandchild of a friend, Steve Potts, on the morning of October 16, but an argument flared when their baby bag containing a camera and nappies was mislaid.
The couple sat with their backs to each other in the church and left early without attending the reception.
Aina said the disagreement persisted throughout the afternoon, during which time Foster left the house to buy two bottles of wine, some of which he then drank.
After returning to the house, Foster claimed Cooper swiped at him with a knife while he was carrying Isabel and while Joshua was also in the room.
He told police that he hit her once with a baseball bat in self-defence. He said she then left the room and he later found her with a knife through her throat.
But Aina said the postmortem examination showed that Cooper had been hit more than 10 times with the bat and the stabbing would have happened after she was unconscious and after she had been knocked on to the sofa.
He added that Foster had three knife injuries to his hand, which was inconsistent with Foster’s account that Cooper had attacked him with a single swipe and instead suggested they may have been self-inflicted.
Aina said Foster was known to have a “short fuse” and claimed he had lost his temper, leading to his partner’s death.
He said: “On many occasions Mr Foster had lost his temper on trivial matters and gone over the top.
“The violent attack is another indication of another over-reaction on his part, this time with tragic consequences.”
Aina said Foster took time to clean up the blood-soaked crime scene and took Cooper’s body to the woodland, where he covered it with bracken.
He also made several trips to the home of his grandmother, Marguerite Halkins – who had brought him up – to take the two children to her.
He told his cousin, David Foster, some of the details about what happened, leading him to alert the police.
The court heard that officers attended Halkins’s house that evening and Foster told them: “You should arrest me.” When they asked him what for, he replied: “Murder.”
The court heard he then led officers to where he had hidden Cooper’s body.
Foster sent a number of text messages on the afternoon he killed Cooper in a bid to create an alibi for himself, the jury was told. He concocted a story that she had found out he had been having an affair and was leaving him.
In one message to Potts, a retired police officer, he wrote to apologise that they had left the christening early.
He wrote: “Sorry mate, keep it to yourself, Heather and I are on verge of break-up over very serious lies she had been doing. Sorry for not being there.”
Potts replied: “Mate, sorry to hear that, as always here for you if you need to meet up and have a chat. Let me know.”
Foster was to reply: “We talking, call you this evening.”
But this was a lie as Cooper was already dead, according to Aina.
Foster, who worked as a plumber after leaving the police, also sent a message to a colleague saying: “Hi mate, Heather walked out on me. Explain later. Left me with the kids. Please can you cover tomorrow?”
And he told another friend, Anthony Crowie, on the phone that: “Heather found out I was cheating on her and has left me.”
Foster also sent two messages to Cooper’s mother, Caroline, stating that her daughter was still alive.
The first said: “Congratulations” and the second said: “Sorry Caroline, sent to wrong person. Been to christening today, hope all is well with you.”
He then sent a message from Cooper’s mobile phone pretending to be from her, which was meant to reassure her mother that everything was OK, according to Aina.
Direct Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jun/26/ukcrime