Fresh anguish for British pensioner who was freed from jail after he admitted killing his terminally-ill wife as Cyprus prosecutors announce new bid to convict him
- David Hunter killed his terminally ill wife Janice in Paphos in December 2021
The British pensioner freed from jail for killing his terminally ill wife could still face life behind bars in Cyprus after prosecutors appealed his sentence.
David Hunter, 76, was finally released last week after 19 months in prison when judges acquitted him of premeditated murder and convicted him of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
It saw him finally able to visit the grave of his beloved late wife Janice, 74, who he suffocated to end her suffering from blood cancer at the home they retired to in a village outside Paphos.
But now he will be hauled back before the Court of Appeal after the country’s Attorney General wrote to challenge both the verdict and his sentence.
If successful it could see his acquittal for murder overturned and a mandatory life sentence imposed. Even if that fails, his two-year sentence for manslaughter – which saw him freed due to time served – could also be extended.
David Hunter, 76, from Northumberland, sits down with the Daily Mail on August 2, 2023 for an exclusive interview after he was released from prison in Cyprus
He visits the grave of his late wife Janice to lay flowers for the first time since he was released from prison, on August 1, 2023
Mr Hunter was left destitute by the marathon court case and his family is now desperately trying to find money to fight the appeal.
His daughter, Lesley Cawthorne, who led the campaign to free him, said: ‘The family is devastated by the decision and would again urge compassion for my elderly and frail father.
‘We continue to be so very grateful for all the support we have had.’ Mr Hunter’s lawyers also hit out at the decision to appeal the verdict which came ten days after sentencing – the final day Cypriot law allows you to submit a challenge.
Michael Polak of Justice Abroad said: ‘We are obviously very disappointed with the Attorney General’s decision to appeal today which gets in the way of David getting on with his life.
‘He has spent 19 months in prison and faced legal proceedings over that period that would be difficult for anyone, but especially for someone of his age.
‘This is a very sad matter; however it is difficult to see how the continued pursuit of David assists anyone.
Retired miner David Hunter is pictured with his wife, Janice Hunter
David Hunter leaving Paphos District Court in Cyprus after he was released from custody
David pictured with Janice on their wedding day in 1969 after courting for about three years
The Hunters, pictured with their daughter Lesley, sold their home in Ashington in 2001 to live permanently in Paphos
He was sentenced to two years but judges ruled that, after 19 months in prison, he had served enough time
‘We will continue to fight for David before the Appeal Court of Cyprus as we have done throughout the lengthy mission to free David.
‘David would like to thank everyone from Cyprus, the United Kingdom, and around the world who have shown such strong support during his trial and since his release.’ The defence team will now make written submissions before a hearing at a later date in the capital, Nicosia.
Mr Hunter’s trial was the first euthanasia case ever heard on the Mediterranean island and sparked fierce debate in the Greek Orthodox country.
The Cypriot parliament is expected to debate the taboo topic next month with the British pensioner’s case likely to feature prominently.
It has stirred up the Orthodox Church which would fiercely oppose any moves to bring in any pro-euthanasia legislation.
There are fears such pressure could have affected the Attorney General’s decision to bring about the appeal.
To make a donation to Lesley Cawthorne’s fundraiser to cover David’s legal bills visit: crowdjustice.com/case/helpbring-david-home/