Man Who Killed Terminally Ill Wife ‘Out of Love’ in Assisted Suicide Freed After 19 Months

 Man Who Killed Terminally Ill Wife ‘Out of Love’ in Assisted Suicide Freed After 19 Months

(Image: Humphrey Nemar / Daily Mirror)

In a case that brought the issue of assisted suicide into focus in Cyprus, a predominantly Christian Orthodox country, a British citizen who was convicted of ending his terminally ill wife’s life has been released from jail after serving 19 months, credited for time already spent.

76-year-old David Hunter had been charged with premeditated murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence, for suffocating his wife, Janice Hunter. Janice had endured years of suffering due to blood cancer and wished to end her life to escape the escalating pain. However, on Friday, David was acquitted of this charge and instead found guilty of manslaughter, as per Justice Abroad, a legal firm representing British nationals facing legal issues abroad.

The court’s decision to downgrade the charges and issue a more lenient sentence was based on the understanding that David acted out of compassion, aiming to spare his wife from a more agonizing death she dreaded, according to state prosecutor Andreas Hadjikyrou.

The couple, who were high school sweethearts and had been together for 56 years, “couldn’t bear to be apart,” their daughter, Lesley Cawthorne, stated on a CrowdJustice campaign page. This campaign successfully raised over £36,000 to cover legal expenses and facilitate David’s return to the UK.

David and Janice, who had retired to Paphos, Cyprus, received Janice’s blood cancer diagnosis in 2016. Over the next five years, her health deteriorated. Janice’s terminal condition, which had also claimed her sister’s life, was causing her increasing pain, and she expressed her wish to end her suffering.

In December 2021, David smothered Janice while she was in her recliner, ending her life as reported by the AP. Cawthorne described her father’s imprisonment and murder trial as a “nightmare” and highlighted how he had dedicated himself to caring for her mother.

During the trial, David testified about his wife’s suffering and its profound impact on them both. Despite assisted suicide not being legally recognized in Cyprus, the court acknowledged on Friday that David had acted spontaneously to end his wife’s life at her request due to her unbearable pain, according to Justice Abroad’s statement.

David Hunter was sentenced to two years in prison but was ordered to be immediately released on Monday, given his 19 months already served, as announced by the international legal team.

Michael Polak, who leads Justice Abroad, expressed satisfaction with the verdict and the lenient sentence, stating that it was the outcome they had been striving for in the case. He added that this type of case was a first for Cyprus’s courts, making the sentencing complex.

Polak mentioned that their lawyers submitted extensive sentencing case law from common law jurisdictions worldwide, including Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Canada.

Describing the case as tragic and difficult for all involved, Polak affirmed that the decision was just and would enable David and his family to mourn together.

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