David Hunter: British expat guilty of Cyprus mercy killing visits wife

A British pensioner who killed his terminally ill wife in Cyprus to end her suffering has visited her grave for the first time the day after being freed from prison.

Retired miner David Hunter was released from custody on Monday after a court sentenced him to two years in jail for the manslaughter of Janice, his spouse of 52 years.

After her death in December 2021, Mrs Hunter was buried at a cemetery minutes from the couple’s Cyprus home in Tremithousa – a small village near the coastal resort town of Paphos.

David Hunter lays flowers at the grave of his wife Janice Hunter at a cemetery near their their former home in Paphos, Cyprus. Picture date: Tuesday August 1, 2023.

But Hunter, 76, has been unable to visit the grave as he was admitted to hospital immediately after Mrs Hunter’s death following a failed suicide attempt, then taken into custody and prosecuted for murder.

The pensioner spent 19 months in prison before being cleared of premeditated murder but found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter by a three-judge panel.

He was jailed for two years but allowed to walk free within 15 minutes of being sentenced at Paphos District Court due to time already served and good behaviour.

On Tuesday morning, he paid his first visit to Mrs Hunter’s grave.

He could not initially find the plot and was guided to it by Michael Polak of Justice Abroad, which represented him during his trial.

Carrying a bouquet of pink, purple and yellow flowers, he immediately knelt down by the grave and appeared to be silently shaking.

Hunter stayed at the site for around half an hour.

Flowers at the grave of Janice Hunter, wife of David Hunter in a cemetery near their their former home in Paphos, Cyprus. Picture date: Tuesday August 1, 2023.

The couple’s daughter, Lesley Cawthorne, previously said she believes, rather than return to the UK, her father will initially choose to stay in Cyprus to be near Mrs Hunter’s grave and “say his goodbyes properly”.

Hunter, from Ashington, Northumberland, told his trial, which lasted for more than a year, that his wife had blood cancer and “begged him” to take her life because she was in so much pain.

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‘I can’t describe how I’m feeling’

He broke down in tears as he said he would “never in a million years” have taken Mrs Hunter’s life unless she had asked him to.

He showed the court how he held his hands over his wife’s mouth and nose and said he eventually decided to grant her wish after she became “hysterical”.

The house in Tremithousa, Cyprus where Janice Hunter was killed by her husband David

Image: The house in Tremithousa, Cyprus where Mrs Hunter was killed by her husband

Judges heard he then tried to kill himself by taking an overdose but medics arrived in time to save him.

His legal team had argued Hunter should be given a suspended sentence, in a case which is a legal first in the country.

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

In mitigation, his defence lawyer, Ritsa Pekri, said his motive was to “liberate his wife from all that she was going through due to her health conditions”.

The court heard it was Mrs Hunter’s “wish” to die and that her husband “had only feelings of love for her”.

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