British expat David Hunter who killed terminally ill wife in Cyprus handed two-year sentence for manslaughter

David Hunter, the British pensioner who killed his terminally ill wife in Cyprus, has been sentenced to two years after he was found guilty of manslaughter.

But Hunter was released on Monday after Cypriot prison authorities officially calculated his release date, his legal team have said.

The 76-year-old has already spent 19 months in custody so has already served the majority of his sentence, according to Michael Polak, the director of Justice Abroad.

Mr Polak, whose organisation is representing Hunter, said that in Cyprus a defendant will spend 10 months in custody for every year that they are jailed.

Janice Hunter, 74, died of asphyxiation at the couple’s retirement home near Paphos in December 2021.

Hunter, a former coal miner from Northumberland, admitted killing his wife but denied murder.

Undated family handout file photo of David Hunter, 74, and Janice Hunter 75, on their wedding day. Mr Hunter is expected to give evidence during his trial in Paphos, Cyprus, over death of his wife Janice, 74, who died of asphyxiation in December 2021 at the couple's retirement home near the coastal resort town. Issue date: Monday May 15, 2023.

Image: The couple were married for 52 years

He told a Cyprus court she had blood cancer and “begged him” to take her life because she was in so much pain.

Hunter was cleared of murdering his wife but was found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter earlier this month.

British pensioner David Hunter waves to journalists while being escorted to a police van outside a courthouse in Paphos, Cyprus July 21, 2023. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Image: British pensioner David Hunter waves to journalists while being escorted to a police van outside a courthouse in Paphos

Mr Polak said Hunter’s legal team were “very pleased” with the sentence which meant “David will be free imminently”.

“The sentencing exercise was not a simple one given that a case like this has never come before the courts of Cyprus before,” Justice Abroad spokesperson Michael Polak said.

“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 Hunter not guilty of murder, is what we have been fighting for in this case and David is very pleased with the outcome today.

“David would like to thank his legal team for their work, the experts who supported his case, and everyone from Cyprus, the United Kingdom, and around the world who has supported him,” the spokesperson added.

“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.”

The couple’s daughter, Lesley Cawthorne, told Sky News after the conviction was handed down: “I’m incredibly relieved that it’s manslaughter rather than murder.

“It’s the best we could have hoped for in the circumstances.”

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