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Peter Foster owned up to the murder of Heather Cooper during an appearance in court today

Guilty plea: Peter Foster was in court today Photo: Calendar

A former police detective has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 17 years after admitting the murder of his partner, a policewoman from York whose body was found in a shallow woodland grave.

Peter Foster had previously pleaded not guilty to killing Detective Constable Heather Cooper, 33, who was stabbed before her body was dumped in Blackdown Woods, near Lurgashall, West Sussex, in October last year.

But the 36-year-old former detective constable, who lived with the mother-of-two in Haslemere, Surrey, changed his plea to guilty at Lewes Crown Court today.

Heather Cooper Credit: Calendar

Miss Cooper was killed at the couple's home while she was on maternity leave with her second child, who was born just weeks prior to her death.

The court heard that Foster claimed Miss Cooper had attacked him and he initially acted in self-defence but then his actions turned to aggression.

The hearing was told he hit her over the head 10 times with a baseball bat before stabbing her in the throat. The court was also told that Foster did not have a clear memory of the events.

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

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".