The British expat on trial for killing his terminally ill wife in Cyprus could be freed next week after he was acquitted of murder today.
David Hunter, 75, who has spent 19 months caged in a Cypriot jail, was found not guilty of the pre-meditated murder for ending the suffering of his childhood sweetheart Janice, 74.
He was convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter by a judge in Cyprus which could see him walk away with a suspended sentence. He will learn his fate at Paphos District Court next Friday.
Earlier, it emerged that Mr Hunter has been left so ‘destitute’ he wouldn’t have been able to appeal a guilty verdict if he was convicted of murder.
The spiralling costs of his agonising 19-month trial have cost him his entire savings. It has also left him unable to afford to make phone calls to friends in prison and having to survive off the meagre rations offered up free of charge.
‘It just breaks my heart,’ said his daughter, Lesley Cawthorne, 50. ‘When my mum was still alive he had a home, a car and money in the bank. Now he’s got a carrier bag with his clothes – that’s all he’s got.’
David Hunter, 75, who has spent 19 months caged in a Cypriot jail, was found not guilty of the pre-meditated murder for ending the suffering of his childhood sweetheart Janice, 74
David Hunter, 75, originally from Northumberland, was accused of murdering his wife of 46 years, Janice, at their home in Paphos, in December 2021. He was today found not guilty of her murder, but guilty of manslaughter
A prison van carrying David Hunter arrives at Paphos District Court in Cyprus on Friday
Mr Hunter had faced a mandatory life sentence if found guilty of pre-meditated murder.
A crowdfunder for his defence is empty and he has run up thousands of pounds of debt fighting the case to date.
Mrs Cawthorne said: ‘I don’t know what we are going to do. He said he wants to appeal, he said, ‘We have to, I can’t spend the rest of my life here.’
‘I honestly don’t know what we are going to do. I don’t know where we are going to get the money from. It’s going to be thousands.’
Mr Hunter had struck up a friendship with British cellmate Owen Williams, 27. But after Mr Williams was released three months ago he has been left locked up with 11 other hardened criminals who don’t speak a word of English.
His only chance to speak is by his phone, but he can now only afford to make occasional calls to his daughter.
She said: ‘He’s got nobody to speak to. He’s not been able to phone people.
‘He’s not allowed to take calls, he has to pay to make them himself. He hasn’t been able to speak to his brother for a while, or his friends Barry and Kevin. He just speaks to me.
‘It’s absolutely devastating.’
David Hunt arrived at a court in Cyprus today where he was found not guilty of murdering his terminally ill wife Janice
David Hunter is escorted into the court in Paphos by police officers on Friday
Mr Hunter’s daughter, Lesley Cawthorne, 50, says it ‘breaks her heart’ that her father has been left ‘destitute’ from trial
Mr Hunter wants to pay his last respects to his wife if he is freed.
The retired Northumberland miner was forced to treat Janice for terminal blood cancer at home with injections due to Covid restrictions as she deteriorated in front of his eyes.
In her last days she was crying out in agony 24 hours a day, unable to move from their sofa or take painkillers as she pleaded with him to kill her.
He finally relented and took her life on December 18, 2021. Mr Hunter went on to attempt suicide, taking drugs and alcohol with the aim of overdosing.
But medics managed to revive him before he was arrested on suspicion of pre-meditated murder – and he has since languished in a high-security jail in Nicosia. He has now been acquitted of murder but found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter, meaning he could walk free as soon as next week.
Mrs Cawthorne said: ‘He wants to see my mum. He wants sit and talk to her. He needs that for his mental health.
‘I think if he was offered to be released but he could not visit her and had to go straight back he would refuse. He just wants to visit my mum.’
During his trial in Cyprus, the court heard how Mr Hunter had ended Janice’s life ‘out of love and mercy’.
‘The facts of this case concern a crime of love and mercy,’ said Ritsa Pekri, one of Hunter’s lawyers.
‘There are no other cases similar to this in Cyprus’ legal history,’ she added, stressing that no one throughout the trial was able to give a testimony that indicated any history of violence or ill-will between the Hunters.
‘No witness statements indicated he was fed up of taking care of his wife. Everyone said they loved each other,’ she told the court, according to the Cyrpus Mail.
In May, Hunter told the court how his teenage sweetheart was reduced to wearing nappies, was covered in skin lesions and could no longer stand from her devastating blood cancer.
In May, Mr Hunter (pictured outside Paphos court in March) told the court how his teenage sweetheart was reduced to wearing nappies, was covered in skin lesions and could no longer stand from her devastating blood cancer
David Hunter and his wife Janice on their wedding day
The final two witnesses in the trial then took the stand, telling the court how Janice’s condition deteriorated in the last years of her life and how she became increasingly depressed.
Through it all, they said, Mr Hunter remained a loving husband.
‘Janice often told us that her great wish was not to be taken to the hospital. And I think David made this possible,’ Helmut Kesting, a neighbour of the British couple, told the court.
According to the Cyprus Mail, Kesting has lived with his wife in the island country since 2020. He described Mr Hunter as a ‘quiet, reliable and reasonable man.’
‘He and Janice always were very helpful and friendly to us,’ he said.
Kesting described to the court how David and Janice were very loving with one-another, saying they were very proud of the relationship they shared.
‘They invited us to their home and showed us a lot of pictures, photo albums of their past trips. I never heard shouting or fights. I believe they were in full harmony together,’ Kesting told the court, the publication reported.
However, he said it was noticeable by 2021 – in the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic – that Janice had become ‘more and more depressed’ having been ‘optimistic’ about her condition a year earlier.
He said that he and his wife had no contact with Janice in her final three or four months, as she did not wish to speak with anyone.