A former detective jailed for life for murdering his partner was today found hanged in his cell in the second apparent suicide at the jail in three days.
Peter Foster, 36, a former detective constable who had been on suicide watch, was found in his cell at Lewes Prison where he was serving a minimum of 17 years for the murder of his partner, a serving officer with Surrey police.
Foster stabbed Detective Constable Heather Cooper, 33, in front of the couple’s two young children before dumping her body in woodland in October last year. He admitted killing her and had previously tried to commit suicide while on remand.
He was discovered at 3am but attempts to resuscitate him by prison staff failed and he was declared dead 25 minutes later.
Foster’s death came after Nathan Vaughan-Jones, 34, who stabbed his stepfather to death after a long-running family feud, was found hanged at the same prison on Friday. Vaughan-Jones, who had been serving 11 years for manslaughter, had not been on suicide watch.
The prisons and probations ombudsman will conduct inquiries into both of the deaths at the East Sussex prison.
Mark Leech, the editor of the prisoners’ newspaper Converse, said that warnings of potential suicides were often passed on by other inmates and the inquiry would attempt to discover if signs had been missed. But he added: “If someone is determined to take their own life, they will do it.”
Ms Cooper was killed at the couple’s home while she was on maternity leave with her second child, born just weeks before her death. Foster claimed that Ms Cooper had attacked him first at their home in Haslemere, Surrey, and he initially reacted in self-defence. He hit her over the head ten times with a baseball bat before stabbing her in the throat.
He initially tried to cover his tracks by cleaning up the crime scene and then sending a series of fake text messages to suggest she was still alive before hiding her body in a shallow grave in woodland. The Court heard that he had expressed “genuine remorse” over what he had done.
He led police to the body after telling officers that they should arrest him for murder. His defence team said in June that Foster must “live with the fact he killed the woman he loved, the mother of two of his three children, and 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”.
Foster’s life unravelled after his father was shot dead during an armed robbery in Sierra Leone in 2009. He was caught drink-driving for which he was prosecuted and led to his resignation from Surrey police.