The trial of a 74-year-old British pensioner, accused of the mercy killing of his wife, is postponed in Cyprus
A Briton charged with the murder of his terminally ill wife today had his trial in Cyprus adjourned until June as the prosecution rejected an appeal seeking to mitigate the charge against him of assisted suicide.
David Hunter, 74, is charged with the mercy killing of his 75-year-old wife Janice in December last year. The couple had been married for 56 years and she had been suffering from terminal leukemia since 2016.
Lawyers for Mr Hunter today asked for the proceedings to be adjourned as they had not received all the evidence submitted to the court, such as the medical examiner’s forensic report.
David Hunter (left), 74, is charged with the mercy killing of his 75-year-old wife Janice (right) last year. The couple had been married for 56 years and she had been suffering from terminal leukemia since 2016. He is currently detained in Cyprus.
Hunter is represented by UK firm Justice Abroad, which said on Monday that the Cypriot prosecutor had rejected their request to drop the murder charge in favor of the lesser assisted suicide charge.
“We have been informed by the prosecution that these submissions have been dismissed, but no reason has been given,” Justice Abroad’s Michael Polak said in a statement.
“We will continue to ask the prosecution to make the decision in principle so that we can return David home to his daughter in the UK as soon as possible.”
The Criminal Court in the southwestern coastal town of Paphos adjourned Hunter’s trial until June 16 on Monday. Mr. Hunter will die in prison if convicted of murder.
Due to the seriousness of the charge – which carries a life sentence – the court decided that the defendant should remain in jail until his next hearing.
He pleaded not guilty to the murder of his wife.
Mr and Mrs Hunter, pictured here on their wedding day, had retired to Cyprus before being diagnosed with leukemia
This would be the first case of assisted suicide in Cyprus.
Hunter is a former miner from Northumberland, England, who retired to Cyprus with his wife, Janice.
They had been together for 56 years and were teenage sweethearts. Janice Hunter was terminally ill and had suffered from leukemia since 2016.
She was losing her sight, couldn’t eat or drink and had constant diarrhea which meant she needed nappies – but the doctors only gave her paracetamol.
“It was a terminal illness that had taken her sister’s life, and the pain she was feeling was getting worse,” Justice Abroad said.
“When she died in their flat in Paphos in December 2021, David Hunter was grief stricken and he attempted to end his life.”
According to Paphos police, the Briton “confessed to killing his 75-year-old wife by blocking her nose and mouth with his hands”. He told police she had leukemia and he “couldn’t see her suffering anymore”.
David Hunter (right) poses on vacation with his wife Janice (centre) and their daughter Lesley (left)
Tender love letters emerged yesterday which show a British pensioner’s devotion to the wife he is accused of murdering.
The Daily Mail saw the last birthday cards the couple wrote to each other months before Ms Hunter died in Paphos on December 18.
They prove the family’s insistence that Mr. Hunter was deeply in love with his wife and would never do anything to harm her.
On the envelope of his card, the retired miner writes: “When I look up and see you, my world is filled with pleasure.
“Throughout all these years we have shared, you have been my greatest treasure.”
Inside, another poem he wrote reads, “I love you today as I have from the beginning, and I will love you forever with all my heart.”
In a message to her husband, Ms Hunter wrote: ‘Another year to be with the best husband in the world. I love you forever, Janice xxx.’
Heartbreaking letters exchanged by the couple proving their devotion have been passed on to the Daily Mail
He has since told his daughter, Lesley Cawthorne, 49, that his wife had made her wish to die very clear and spoke about it every day for the last six weeks of her life.
“At first he tried to talk her out of it, then he said he would go with her,” she said. “He loved her so much…I’m horrified that they were so desperate that they thought dying together was the only way out.”
Lesley, who works in financial advice, applied for the charge to be downgraded through UK-based law firm Justice Abroad.
Speaking to the Daily Mail last month, Ms Cawthorne said she was still supportive of her father despite what had happened and the couple were inseparable.
“He always said that from the moment he saw her, he never looked at another woman,” she said. “They laughed together, always had something to say to each other; they never left each other.
‘Dad is a good man. He doesn’t deserve to die alone in a foreign prison. He is so alone. After 56 years with mom, it feels like a limb is missing.
Another moving letter from David to Janice says: ‘I love you today as I have since the beginning’
The loving daughter said her father claimed Janice was ‘talking about it (ending her life) on a daily basis’.
“At first he tried to talk her out of it, then he said he would go with her,” she said.
‘He loved her so much. He’s having nightmares now when he can still hear her screaming in pain, and they had to deal with it on their own. I’m horrified that they were so desperate they thought dying together was the only way out.
The tragic events came to light when Mr Hunter called his little brother in the UK after Janice’s death to tell him he had overdosed on pills and ask him to ‘look after Lesley’.
Her brother contacted the police in the UK, who in turn contacted Interpol and they helped organize an emergency response in Cyprus.
The former collier was rushed to Paphos Hospital, where he spent four days in intensive care before being transferred to a psychiatric hospital.
The Cypriot parliament is discussing whether to legalize euthanasia, a taboo subject among the island’s majority Greek Orthodox community.
But even prison guards took pity on Mr Hunter – who has retired to Northumberland Island with his wife – and privately told his daughter they thought he should not face murder charges.
It comes after Cypriot prosecutors accused a British woman of filing a rape complaint there.
The 21-year-old was turned from victim to accused after police forced a ‘confession’, but she was acquitted this year after pressure from the British media.
If you have been touched by this story, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org.