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20 May, 2024
 
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76-year-old found guilty of manslaughter in mercy killing

Paphos court finds David Hunter guilty of manslaughter in terminally ill wife's death

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In a significant legal development, David Hunter, a 76-year-old British man, has been found guilty of manslaughter for causing the death of his seriously ill wife, Janice Hunter, aged 74. The tragic incident occurred in their home near Paphos in December 2021.

The retired miner from Ashington, Northumberland, had initially faced a murder charge but was acquitted after the court determined that he suffocated his wife as an act of assisted suicide. Janice Hunter was battling blood cancer, and according to David Hunter's account, she had pleaded with him to end her suffering.

The sentencing for David Hunter is scheduled for July 27, and the outcome of the case will be closely watched by both legal experts and the public. His lawyer, Michael Polak, representing Justice Abroad, expressed optimism, suggesting that his client might receive a suspended sentence and be allowed to return to the UK to live with his daughter.

During the trial, David Hunter's defense emphasized that the act was not premeditated but rather a spontaneous response to his wife's intense pain and repeated pleas for help to end her life. The court heard Hunter's emotional testimony, where he described his wife not only as a spouse but also as his best friend.

Initially, a plea deal had been agreed upon, wherein Hunter would admit to manslaughter, but the trial proceeded after the Cypriot authorities reversed their legal stance.

Hunter revealed that his decision to comply with his wife's request came after enduring five or six weeks of her agony-stricken pleas. He broke down in tears as he explained that he would never have taken her life unless she had explicitly asked him to do so. He hoped her mind would change, but eventually, he acceded to her wishes, causing her death when she reached a state of hysteria.

Following the tragic event, Hunter also attempted to end his own life, further highlighting the emotional turmoil he experienced.

In June 2022, Lesley Cawthorne, the couple's daughter, spoke to the BBC about her mother's excruciating pain during her final months. Barry Kent, a friend of David Hunter's who garnered substantial support from the community in Ashington to fund legal expenses, expressed relief upon hearing the verdict in court.

The Criminal Court in Paphos has announced its decision to find David Hunter guilty of manslaughter, bringing an end to a case that has captivated public attention due to its poignant circumstances.

[With information from CNA and BBC]

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Cyprus  |  UK  |  suicide

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