The Daily Telegraph

British expat on trial in Cyprus over assisted suicide of his wife

- By Nick Squires in Paphos

A BRITISH former miner wiped away tears as he went on trial in Cyprus for allegedly murdering his terminally ill wife in what his family and lawyers say was a mercy killing to end the excruciati­ng pain she was suffering from leukaemia.

David Hunter, 75, who spent more than 40 years working down the pit in Northumber­land before retiring to the Mediterran­ean island, said the loss of his wife, Janice, had left a “black hole” in his life. “She was not just my wife.

She was my best friend. We went everywhere together,” he said, in the district court in Paphos, in western Cyprus, as his trial got under way after monthslong delays.

As his wife’s leukaemia grew worse, she made him promise that he would end her life if the pain became unbearable, he said. She had witnessed her sister die of the same illness and dreaded the same fate for herself.

“She said, ‘Promise me if I ever get it, you will help me.’ I said, ‘Yes of course’. She said, ‘No, you don’t understand. I don’t want to go through that.’ She knew the symptoms and she knew they were getting worse.”

Mr Hunter has been charged with the premeditat­ed murder of his wife, to whom he was married for more than 50 years, at their retirement home in Cyprus last December.

He has admitted smothering his wife, and his legal team say the case should be treated as assisted suicide, not murder. But their request to have the charge changed was rejected by Cyprus’s attorney-general.

If convicted of murder, Mr Hunter will receive a life sentence and spend the rest of his days behind bars. Euthanasia is illegal in Cyprus, although the country’s parliament has begun debating possible changes to the law.

He tried to take his own life by overdosing on prescripti­on medication but was rushed to hospital to have his stomach pumped.

The trial started yesterday, with a police officer presenting items of evidence to the panel of three judges who are hearing the case.

He said he had issued a standard caution to Mr Hunter when he entered the couple’s home last December and found Mrs Hunter slumped in an armchair, dead.

A statement was taken from Mr Hunter when he was recovering from the overdose in an intensive care unit in a hospital in Paphos. The defence says it should be disregarde­d, arguing that Mr Hunter was not of sound mind when he made it. No lawyer or interprete­r was present.

Mr Hunter has been in prison in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, since January. He shares a cell with 11 other men and said the food was “terrible”.

“It’s a bit rowdy. I just try to live day by day… I just want it to be over and done with so that I know where I stand,” Mr Hunter said.

The trial was adjourned until Thursday, when the prosecutio­n will continue calling witnesses.

 ?? ?? David Hunter with his wife, Janice, who was suffering from leukaemia. The couple had moved to Cyprus
David Hunter with his wife, Janice, who was suffering from leukaemia. The couple had moved to Cyprus

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