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

21 July 2023, 11:05 | Updated: 21 July 2023, 12:34

David Hunter has been found guilty of killing his terminally ill wife
David Hunter has been found guilty of killing his terminally ill wife. Picture: Alamy/Facebook

By Asher McShane

A British expat has been found guilty of the manslaughter of his terminally ill wife at their home in Cyprus.

David Hunter, 76, has been 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.

Hunter said he was ‘happy and elated’ after the todays verdict was handed down.

David Hunter was cleared of murdering his wife at a court in Cyprus
David Hunter was cleared of murdering his wife at a court in Cyprus. Picture: Alamy

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".

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.

The home in Cyprus where Janice was killed
The home in Cyprus where Janice was killed. Picture: Alamy

During closing speeches in June, Hunter's defence team said it was not a case of premeditated murder and Hunter "acted spontaneously" to end Mrs Hunter's life "upon her begging him to do so".

Michael Polak, director of Justice Abroad, which is representing Hunter, told reporters: "This remains a tragic case.

"Janice and David were loving partners for over 50 years and enjoyed their retirement together in Cyprus until she became ill and was in excruciating pain."

He will be sentenced at Paphos District Court next Friday. According to reports the spiralling costs of the trial have cost him his life savings.

He was unable to afford to make phone calls to friends and could not afford extra food behind bars.

His daughter, Lesley Cawthorne, 50, said: “When my mum was still alive he had a home, a car and money in the bank. Now he's got a carrier bag with his clothes.”

A crowdfunded was set up for his defence but it is understood the funds have run out.

“I don't know what we are going to do,” he said

“I honestly don't know what we are going to do. I don't know where we are going to get the money from. It's going to be thousands.”

Hunter is only able to afford occasional phone calls to his daughter.  “He's got nobody to speak to. He's not been able to phone people,” she said.

“He just speaks to me. It’s absolutely devastating.”

In his wife’s final days as she battled blood cancer, she was in pain 24 hours a day, unable to move from their sofa or take painkillers.

Hunter took her life on December 18 2021 before trying to take an overdose and end his own life.

His daughter said he is desperate to be able to pay his last respects to his wife.

“He wants to see my mum. He wants sit and talk to her. He needs that for his mental health,” his daughter Lesley said.