Murder charge for Briton accused of killing ill wife in Cyprus

December 20, 2022 0 By Cypher9ja

A British pensioner in Cyprus accused of killing his terminally-ill wife faced a murder trial Tuesday after a plea bid for a lesser charge of manslaughter was rejected, lawyers said.

David Hunter, 76, a retired miner from Northumberland who has spent a year in the custody of the Cypriot authorities, faces up to 25 years in prison if found guilty.

Hunter and his wife Janice were teenage sweethearts who had been together for 59 years.

But in December 2021, Janice, who was suffering from advanced leukaemia, allegedly begged her husband to end her life.

Hunter said he had finally acquiesced to his wife’s wishes, smothering her to death in their sitting room in Tremithousa, near Paphos, on the Mediterranean island’s west coast.

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In Cyprus, a largely Orthodox Christian country where euthanasia is taboo, the case is unprecedented as there is no law on assisted suicide.

Police found Hunter after he overdosed on prescription pills and alcohol, in an attempt to take his own life.

Hunter had previously pleaded not guilty to murder, his defence arguing it was assisted suicide, but prosecutor Andreas Hadjikyrou told the court there was no evidence of a pact.

“It has not been clarified whether this agreement between the deceased and the accused was a fact,” Hadjikyrou said Tuesday.

British defence barrister Michael Polak, who heads the London-based legal aid group Justice Abroad, blamed a prosecution “last-minute U-turn” for the collapse of the plea bargain, which he had hoped would have given Hunter a suspended sentence.

“It is clear that the prosecution… is attempting to ensure that Mr Hunter receives the highest possible sentence”, Polak said.

On Tuesday, the trial proceeded with the evidence of Tremithousa community leader Christofi Petrou, the landlord of the Hunters.

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“He stated that they were popular and trusted neighbours, were in a loving relationship and that Janice’s pain from her condition increased as time went on,” said Justice Abroad.

The case continues, with the next hearing set for December 22.