The British pensioner accused of murdering his terminally ill wife in Cyprus has told how she ‘cried and begged’ him to kill her for weeks.
David Hunter, 75, was overcome with emotion as he described his agonising final months with Janice, 74, before he took the heartbreaking decision to end her suffering.
He told how his teenage sweetheart was reduced to wearing nappies, was covered in skin lesions and could no longer stand from her devastating blood cancer.
The retired miner was forced to treat her himself at home due to Covid restrictions as she deteriorated in front of his eyes.
He told the court his wife was left crying out in agony 24 hours a day.
David Hunter smothered his wife, Janice, in 2021 at their retirement home in Cyprus
David Hunter said he and Janice, pictured on their wedding day, had the ‘perfect’ marriage
Mr Hunter is pictured leaving court in Cyprus on Monday to finally give evidence
He broke down in tears as he told the court how he killed his wife after she ‘begged’ him for six weeks.
He said: ‘I don’t remember a lot of the last day. I went to make a cup of coffee and she started crying.’
He described how he went to the kettle and gripped the bench for support as his wife sat sobbing next door.
‘The next thing I knew I put my hands on her,’ he said, wiping tears from his eyes. ‘When it was finished, she was a grey colour. She didn’t look like my wife, and it was the first time I cried in many years.’
He described how he stood by her side and put his left hand on her nose and right hand over her mouth to smother her.
When prosecutor Andreas Hadjikyrou suggested that Mrs Hunter struggled and scratched him as he smothered her, Mr Hunter told him: ‘She never struggled, she never moved. You are talking nonsense.’
Mr Hadjikyrou then suggested Mr Hunter had planned to kill his wife and did not tell her, to which he replied: ‘I would never in a million years take my wife’s life if she had not asked me.
‘She wasn’t just my wife, she was my best friend.’ He added: ‘She wasn’t crazy, you haven’t seen the strain of the last six years, what she’s gone through.
‘The situation, the pressure. I wouldn’t like anyone to go through the last six months we both went through.’
The prosecutor responded: ‘Mr Hunter, there are people that go through much worse pain.’
Mr Hunter said he didn’t tell the doctors of his wife’s suicidal wishes because she asked him not to, fearing they would take her into hospital. He didn’t tell their daughter because he didn’t want to ‘worry’ her.
After the cross examination finished, Mr Hunter asked to address the judge. He told him: ‘My wife was suffering and she actually said, ‘I don’t want to live anymore,’ and I still said no.
‘Then she started to become hysterical. I was hoping she would change her mind. I loved her so much. I did not plan it, I swear to God.’
David Hunter with his wife Janice and daughter Lesley (left)
The grave of Janice Hunter at the cemetery in Tremithousa, Cyprus
Janice Hunter, whose grave is pictured above at the cemetery in Tremithousa, Cyprus, was in ‘agony’ before she died, the court has heard
On Monday morning he told the court of the events leading up to the day he smothered his wife. ‘I would never have helped her end her life if she had not begged me,’ he said, giving evidence for the first time after over 20 appearances in 18 months. ‘For six weeks she asked if I could help her. For six weeks I refused.’
Describing her agony, he told Paphos District Court: ‘She was lying down, she was in pain, suffering. I would do anything to help her. The last thing on my mind was to take her life. The last thing.’
He said she was ‘stuck in the house’ and couldn’t move because of her diarrhoea – a side effect of her medication that saw her wear nappies for her last three years.
‘She cried, she couldn’t do nothing, she couldn’t move,’ he said. ‘She was sleeping in the leather chair downstairs and for the last week we slept down on those chairs together.
‘I felt so helpless and hopeless that I couldn’t do anything for her. For five or six weeks before she died she was asking me to help her, she was asking me more every day.
‘In the last week she was crying and begging me. Every day she asked me a bit more intensely to do it. I didn’t want to do it after 57 years together. I really didn’t want to do it.’
Mr Hunter said he repeatedly told her he couldn’t bring himself to kill her, but she implored him, telling him: ‘I can’t go on, this isn’t life for me.’
In the last few days she went from just crying to being more emotional. He said: ‘She started becoming hysterical, so I told her, ‘Yes, I’m going to help you’. I just told her that to calm her down.’
Asked how the last few days were, Mr Hunter said: ‘She was crying, crying, crying, begging, begging, begging.
‘She wasn’t taking any care of herself. The last two or three weeks she could not move her arms and had trouble with her legs, she couldn’t balance.
‘She was only eating soup, she couldn’t hold anything down. She lost a lot of weight. She lost so much weight that there was no flesh to put her injections in.’
He said in those final days he was ‘thinking about what to do 24/7’ before finally taking the decision to go through with it when she once more started crying out in pain.
Mr Hunter (pictured in March, 2023) made his first statement in court today and was visibly shaking as he gave evidence
Mr Hunter told how he worked seven days a week in the mine to pay for their only child, Leslie (pictured), to become the first member of the family to go to university
Mr Hunter said: ‘I remember that I had my hand on her mouth and nose. I don’t even know how I thought about it. I don’t know how long I kept my hands there for.
‘She did not attempt to stop me… I don’t even think she opened her eyes.’
After she died, he kissed her forehead and told her he loved her, before confessing to his brother who alerted the police. He said he cannot remember being arrested or giving interviews to police.
In cross examination, prosecutor Andreas Hadjikyrou said: ‘I put it to you that you had decided to kill her and there was no common consent, and that you just had to decide what day to kill her on.’
Mr Hunter replied: ‘No, I never intended to kill her. I had hoped for eight or nine days that she would get better, that she would change her mind.’
He added: ‘The last thing on my mind was to take her life – the last thing,’ before pointing to the prosecutor and saying: ‘That’s his idea, that’s not my idea.’
Earlier he told how he met his wife when she asked him for a dance at a miners’ hall party in Northumberland.
‘She came up to me and said, ‘You’re sitting in my seat.’ I hadn’t ever seen such a beautiful woman,’ he said.
From there, they were always together, he said, and they married in St John’s Church in Ashington in 1969.
Asked how their marriage was, he said: ‘Perfect.’ He told how he worked seven days a week in the mine to pay for their only child, Leslie, to become the first member of the family to go to university.
Police custody vans arrive at Paphos District Court on Monday where David Hunter is on trial
He and his wife would visit Cyprus on holidays and bought a property there in 1999 before moving across two years later to retire there.
Mr Hunter said: ‘The first 16 years before she got sick, apart from a few operations, it was absolutely fantastic.’
But Mr Hunter suffered a stroke in 2015 and it was on regular trips to the hospital for his treatment that a doctor noticed his wife was looking very pale.
She was diagnosed with blood cancer and had to go to the capital Nicosia every week for procedures and injections.
As her condition deteriorated she asked to go to Paphos General Hospital because she couldn’t face the journeys, but when Covid hit it was closed and so they kept her injections in their fridge and self-medicated.
Mr Hunter told how he called the hospital five times a day but there was no answer, and he was forced to travel to centres further away for help and supplies.
She had two 125 euro injections per week but started suffering side effects including diarrhoea, headaches, dizziness and nose bleeds.
Mrs Hunter’s haemoglobin levels were such that she was unable to take painkillers and was left in agony at home, unable to move.
In her last months she underwent a series of operations for skin lesions on her face and hands, as well as a knee operation and another for her collarbone.
Speaking after his hearing, Mr Hunter told the press he was happy to finally give his account after waiting for 18 months.
‘I got my say, this is what I wanted,’ he said. ‘To tell them things that they never even thought about.
‘For six weeks when she was asking me, it was 24 hours. She was my wife, my best friend.
‘The last six months, I wouldn’t like anyone to go through that. Prison is nothing compared to what we went though.’