An inquest into the death of a former detective who murdered his partner and fellow officer and dumped her body in a shallow woodland grave is expected to begin today.

Peter Foster was found hanged in his cell at Lewes Prison during the early hours of July 30 2012, a month after he was jailed for life and told he must serve a minimum of 17 years for killing Heather Cooper.

The 36-year-old stabbed Detective Constable Cooper, 33, at their home in Haslemere, Surrey, before dumping her body in Blackdown Woods, near Lurgashall, West Sussex, in October 2011.

Lewes Crown Court heard that Miss Cooper was on maternity leave with the couple's second child, born just weeks before she died.

Foster, who was trained in martial arts, claimed Miss Cooper had attacked him and he had initially acted in self-defence but then his actions turned to aggression.

The hearing was told that Foster carried out the attack in front of their children who were two and three months old at the time, hitting Miss Cooper over the head 10 times with a baseball bat before stabbing her in the throat.

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.

Foster was understood to be subject to suicide-prevention measures at the East Sussex prison after making an attempt on his life while on remand.

Following his death, the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman was asked to investigate the matter.

A jury will be sworn in when the inquest starts at Eastbourne Town Hall at 10am.