British man accused of murder in Cyprus over mercy killing of his wife faces months more in custody


‘I just want to go home’: Tearful Briton, 75, accused of murder in Cyprus over mercy killing of his terminally ill wife faces months more in custody as his case is delayed AGAIN with family fearing ‘he’ll die before we get to trial’

  • David Hunter is accused of killing his 75-year-old wife Janice in Paphos, Cyprus
  • The couple were married for 56 years, and she had been suffering from terminal leukaemia since 2016. Their daughter said Janice expressed a wish to die 
  • UK lawyers had written to Cyprus authorities asking for assisted suicide charge
  • But the prosecution rejected an appeal to lessen the charge against David
  • He appeared in district court today where his case was adjourned to September
  • Now, supporters – including his daughter – fear he will die before case is heard
  • If convicted of his wife’s murder, 75-year-old David faces life in a Cyprus jail
  • Speaking to MailOnline in Paphos, tearful Hunter said: ‘I just want to get home’

A frail British pensioner accused of killing his terminally ill wife in Cyprus has spoken for the first time – as supporters including his daughter say they fear he will die before the case is heard.

Retired miner David Hunter, 75, is accused of smothering Janice, his wife of 56 years – but he and his family insist he only did so after she begged him to end her life following a diagnosis of blood cancer.

As he was remanded in custody for another three months this morning, tearful Hunter told MailOnline: ‘I just want to get home’.

Looking frail, and dressed in a black shirt and black jeans, David told MailOnline: ‘I’m coping OK but I would prefer to be at home with the family.’

Paramedics found Janice last December dead in an armchair at their home on the Mediterranean island where they retired 20 years ago, and he was rushed to hospital barely alive after taking a near fatal overdose.

Prosecutors in Paphos have since charged him with murder – despite efforts by his legal team to get it changed to ‘assisted suicide’.

Retired miner David Hunter (left), 75, is accused of smothering Janice (right), his wife of 56 years - but he and his family insist he only did so after she begged him to end her life following a diagnosis of blood cancer

Retired miner David Hunter (left), 75, is accused of smothering Janice (right), his wife of 56 years – but he and his family insist he only did so after she begged him to end her life following a diagnosis of blood cancer

A prison van carrying David Hunter is shown arriving at the courthouse in Paphos on Thursday

A prison van carrying David Hunter is shown arriving at the courthouse in Paphos on Thursday

David Hunter (pictured), who celebrated his 75th birthday in Nicosia jail two weeks ago, appeared in court on Thursday where his case was adjourned until September. If convicted, David faces life in jail. His daughter fears he could die before his case is even heard

David Hunter (pictured), who celebrated his 75th birthday in Nicosia jail two weeks ago, appeared in court on Thursday where his case was adjourned until September. If convicted, David faces life in jail. His daughter fears he could die before his case is even heard

He appeared in the resort’s district court today where his case was adjourned until September. If convicted, David faces life in jail.

David, originally from Ashington, Northumberland, has been in custody at Nicosia jail since the incident at the home he shared with Janice at Tremithousa.

Although David said conditions were ‘ok’ his lawyers had hoped he would be bailed given his age, but judge Michael Droushiotis adjourned the case until September remanding him in custody saying other cases had precedence.

Speaking after the short hearing, he said: ‘Sometimes at night I just lie in bed thinking through my mind about what happened and parts of it are still blank spaces. I still can’t remember all that happened but I’m coping ok.’

On hearing the news he was being held in custody for three more months, his daughter Lesley Cawthorne gasped. ‘I’m gutted. He’ll die before we get to trial at this rate,’ she said.

She added: ‘I know I’m a grown woman but I love my daddy and I just want him home. If he is found guilty he could get 15 years or more, so he will die in prison.’

Speaking before the five-minute hearing David added: ‘I’m grateful to all the support I’ve had from the UK and I have some friends over who are coming to see me in jail. They brought me some dominoes and my reading glasses.

‘I feel optimistic about the outcome and my legal team are doing their best. I just want to get home and the best time of day is the ten minutes on the telephone to my daughter.’

Following the adjournment, as he was led away clearly in tears, he was embraced by pal Kevin Barnfather, 58, who had flown out to the Cyprus for the hearing, along with Barry Kent, 66.

Barry, from Lynemouth, told MailOnline:’ It’s gutting to see him like this. He looks really weak and frail. He’s not a murderer and OK he said the conditions in prison were fine, but he shouldn’t be there.

Prosecutors say Janice (pictured with David on their wedding day) was murdered by the former miner who then took an overdose to end his own life but survived and was found by paramedics who alerted police

Prosecutors say Janice (pictured with David on their wedding day) was murdered by the former miner who then took an overdose to end his own life but survived and was found by paramedics who alerted police

Lesley Hunter (right), whose father, David Hunter (left) is to go on trial in Cyprus accused of murdering his terminally ill wife, has appealed to judges to show 'compassion' as he faces dying in jail if convicted

Lesley Hunter (right), whose father, David Hunter (left) is to go on trial in Cyprus accused of murdering his terminally ill wife, has appealed to judges to show ‘compassion’ as he faces dying in jail if convicted

‘He’s not someone who has been on a killing spree, why can’t they bail him? He looks a shell, words really do fail me, it’s sad, it’s desperate, it’s pathetic.’

Barry added:’ We will be supporting him as much as we can, we will go and see him in prison and let him know that he has the backing of a lot of people. He shouldn’t be in prison.

Barry, revealed how ahead of the hearing he had placed flowers on Janice’s grave and said: ‘It was the least I could so. When I spoke to David on Monday before I flew out, he asked me to do it.

‘He also asked me for some reading glasses and some dominoes which I will give to him. I understand they must follow the law but I’m hoping that they will accept maybe manslaughter.

‘Then that way it maybe a lower sentence and he can go back to the UK and serve his time there and be near his daughter Lesley.

‘We just have to hope for the best. It was David and Janice’s dream to retire out here and they loved the life but then she got ill and it turned into a nightmare for them.

‘Janice was the love of his life, everything he did was for Janice, he was always talking about her, he adored her.’

Barrister Michael Polak, from campaign group Justice Abroad, who is representing David, said: ‘Obviously we are very disappointed it didn’t go ahead but we will fight on.

On hearing the news he was being held in custody for three more months, his daughter Lesley Cawthorne (pictured) gasped. ‘I’m gutted. He’ll die before we get to trial at this rate,’ she said

On hearing the news he was being held in custody for three more months, his daughter Lesley Cawthorne (pictured) gasped. ‘I’m gutted. He’ll die before we get to trial at this rate,’ she said

Pictured: The hunter family home is seen in Paphos, Cyprus

Pictured: The hunter family home is seen in Paphos, Cyprus

‘Bail was always going to be difficult given the charge and that he is a foreign national. Although he is not being treated badly, he shouldn’t be in prison.

‘At least his friends will be going to visit him, but he has problems with his eyes and what was worrying was how thin he looked, I told him he needs to eat more.

‘He has changed considerably in the two months since I last saw him. He looks devastated and he looks like a lonely old man.’

Fifi Georg, the owner of the house where the couple were found, was also in court and earlier told Mail Online: ‘David and Janice were a lovely couple.

‘They were still so in love like teenagers, they were like a young couple and he was heartbroken when she was diagnosed with the cancer.

‘Every day he would take her to hospital for treatment and they moved in next door to me about four years ago.

‘They had another property in town which they moved to first when they retire but they sold that to the pay for her treatment.

‘We couldn’t believe it when we heard what had happened. I came home and the police were at the house and I looked through the window and saw Janice sitting in a chair.

‘He had taken the trouble to cover her with a blanket. He had taken some pills and written to his brother and said what he was going to do and he had called the British police who alerted Interpol.

Pictured: Family friend Barry Kent visits Janice Hunter's grave in Paphos

Pictured: Family friend Barry Kent visits Janice Hunter’s grave in Paphos

Pictured: The grave of Janice Hunter is seen in Paphos, Cyprus

Pictured: The grave of Janice Hunter is seen in Paphos, Cyprus

‘David should not be in jail. He’s not a cold-blooded murderer, he loved his wife and he was doing what she had asked him to do and then he tried to take his own life as well.

‘They had been together for more than 50 years and they anted to die together, there was no evil intention. I just hope the court sees this and lets him go home to be with his family.’

Another neighbour, German Helmut Pesting who was at court with his wife, said: ‘We met them about two years ago after we moved to Cyprus.

‘They were a lovely couple. They were always together, and he was very proud of her.

‘David was always speaking highly of Janice. He was proud of how long their marriage had lasted and he had lots of pictures of Janice which he would always show.

‘We never heard a quarrel of a bad word between them. This was the first time I had seen him since it all happened, and he looks in a bad way.’  

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/help-bring-david-home 

If you have been affected by this story, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org. 

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