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David Hunter not guilty of murdering terminally ill wife in Cyprus but convicted of manslaughter | UK News

David Hunter has been cleared of murdering his terminally ill wife in Cyprus but found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

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

Hunter, a 76-year-old former coal miner from Northumberland, admitted killing his wife but denied murder.

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

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

“It’s the best we could have hoped for in the circumstances and I really hope the judges can extend their compassion and be lenient in their sentencing.”

In May, Hunter broke down as he testified he would “never in a million years” have killed Janice unless she had asked him to.

“She wasn’t just my wife, she was my best friend,” he said.

“For five or six weeks before she died she was asking me to help her. She was asking me more every day,” he said.

“In the last week she was crying and begging me. Every day she asked me a bit more intensely to do it.”

File photo dated 21/03/23 of David Hunter, from Northumberland, arriving at Paphos Assize Court in Cyprus

He said he had hoped she would change her mind, but that he finally complied and covered her mouth and nose after she became “hysterical”.

Hunter’s confession was deemed as being lawfully obtained and allowed as evidence, despite opposition from the defence.

A deal to reduce the charge to manslaughter collapsed last year after prosecutors demanded proof that his wife had asked him to kill her.

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.
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The couple were married for 52 years

During the trial, a judge also dismissed a request to allow evidence from a psychiatrist who said Hunter was suffering dissociation at the time of the incident.

The court found he was lucid, demonstrated by the fact he took pills and called his brother after killing his wife.

A three-judge panel delivered the verdict in Paphos on Friday and he will be sentenced on 27 July.

His legal team said the manslaughter verdict means it’s possible he could get a suspended sentence and avoid jail.

Lesley Cawthorne (L) pictured with her parents at Italy's Lake Garda in 1988. Pic: Lesley Cawthorne
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Lesley Cawthorne pictured with her parents at Lake Garda in 1988. Pic: Lesley Cawthorne

“This remains a tragic case,” said campaign group Justice Abroad.

“Janice and David were in a loving relationship for over 50 years and it is clear that David did what he did out of love for Janice upon her request.

“We strongly believe that no proper purpose would be served by David spending any further time within Nicosia prison.”

David Hunter is facing trial in Cyprus accused of murdering his wife Janice. Pic: Lesley Cawthorne
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Pic: Lesley Cawthorne

Mrs Cawthorne previously said that as well as terminal blood cancer, her mother had ailments including painful rheumatoid arthritis, skin cancer and cataracts.

“She didn’t want a long, protracted death. She’d had enough and she just wanted to go,” she said.

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK

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