Brit expat, 76, says he ‘can’t describe’ how he’s feeling as he’s freed over manslaughter of his terminally ill wife

31 July 2023, 08:57 | Updated: 31 July 2023, 10:39

David Hunter was released immediately due to time served
David Hunter was released immediately due to time served. Picture: Alamy/Facebook
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Retired British miner David Hunter, 76, has been freed after the manslaughter of his terminally ill wife Janice.

He was handed a two year sentence today but was freed immediately due to time already spent in prison.

Speaking on the steps of Paphos District Court, a visibly emotional Mr Hunter said: "I'd like to say thank you to all the people who've donated to me, and especially my mates and my workmates. I don't know where I would be without them.

"When you work in a colliery, you're a family.

"I can't describe it. I'm sorry. I wish I could, I wish I could find words to describe it but I can't.

"When you're under pressure for two years, not knowing which way it's going to go."

His daughter Lesley Cawthorne said: "I'm elated and relieved that my darling dad has been released. The past 19 months have been a living nightmare for our family but today is the start of us being able to rebuild our lives.

"Dad's release also means we can finally grieve for my mum and I hope everyone can respect our privacy whilst we take the time to come to terns with her loss.

"So many people have worked hard and supported our efforts to bring my dad home, too many to mention but you know who you are and you know you have our deepest gratitude.

"The kindness and love of friends and strangers has been the thing that has kept us going and we can never thank you all enough."

After speaking to Hunter over the phone, Ms Cawthorne added: "Speaking to my daddy was the most amazing thing. I feel like my heart has been put back together."

Mr Hunter, 76, was found guilty by Cypriot judges of the manslaughter of his wife Janice, who died of asphyxiation at the couple’s home near Paphos, Cyprus in December 2021.

Hunter, 76, denied murder and told a court his wife, who was 74, had blood cancer and "begged him" to end her life.

Had he been found guilty of her pre-meditated murder, he would have faced a mandatory life sentence.

Read More: British expat cleared of murdering terminally ill wife but found guilty of manslaughter by Cyprus judge

David Hunter smiles as he is released from prison in Cyprus
David Hunter smiles as he is released from prison in Cyprus. Picture: Alamy
A police officer escorts the Briton David Hunter
A police officer escorts the Briton David Hunter. Picture: Alamy

Michael Polak, of Justice Abroad, which has been representing David Hunter, said: "We are very pleased with the sentence today which means that David will be free immediately.

"The sentencing exercise was not a simple one given that a case like this has never come before the courts of Cyprus before.

"We submitted extensive sentencing case law from across the common law world, from Australia to Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom to assist the court in coming to a decision which was fair.

"The result of today's hearing, and the court's previous decision finding Mr Hunter not guilty of murder, is what we have been fighting for in this case, and David is very pleased with the outcome today.

"This has been a tragic case and difficult for all of those involved with it, but today's decision was the right one and allows David and his family to grieve together."

Read More: Brit accused of murdering his terminally ill wife in Cyprus tells court she ‘cried and begged’ for him to kill her

Giving evidence in May, Hunter told the District Court in Paphos he would "never in a million years" have taken his wife's life unless she had asked him to, adding: "She wasn't just my wife, she was my best friend."

Hunter demonstrated to the court how he held his hands over her mouth and nose, and said he eventually decided to grant his wife's wish after she became "hysterical".

David Hunter with his wife Janice
David Hunter with his wife Janice. Picture: social media
The home in Cyprus where Janice was killed
The home in Cyprus where Janice was killed. Picture: Alamy

Hunter, from Ashington in Northumberland, said: "For five or six weeks before she died she was asking me to help her. She was asking me more every day.

"In the last week she was crying and begging me. Every day she asked me a bit more intensely to do it."

Hunter told the court he tried to kill himself after his wife's death.