British man who killed seriously ill wife cleared of murder

A British man who killed his seriously ill wife at their home in Cyprus has been cleared of her murder.

Is allowance instantly strangers applauded

A British man who killed his seriously ill wife at their home in Cyprus has been cleared of her murder.

David Hunter, 76, was instead convicted of manslaughter after suffocating 74-year-old Janice Hunter at their home near Paphos in December 2021.

The retired miner from Ashington, Northumberland, maintained her death was assisted suicide and his wife, who had blood cancer, had begged him to end her misery.

He will be sentenced on 27 July.

Hunter's lawyer argued the death was assisted suicide because Mrs Hunter was suffering and she asked him to do it.

As the three judges handed down their verdict at the district court in Paphos, Hunter hugged his legal team and told the BBC he was "happy and elated".

His lawyer Michael Polak, from Justice Abroad, said the verdict meant there was a "very good chance" his client would receive a suspended sentence and be able to return to the UK to live with his daughter.

"This wasn't a pre-planned act," Mr Polak said. "He acted on the spur of the moment because she was in so much pain."

Mr Polak said the judges accepted Hunter had a "loving" and "dream" relationship with his wife of more than 50 years and "on that morning she asked him to end her life".

Mr Polak said his client was "speechless" and "too tired to smile" after being cleared of murder, adding: "He said he hadn't slept for three or four days, but he is very pleased about what happened.

"He would like to thank everyone who supported him in this case. This is the result he was looking for."

A plea deal, which would have seen Hunter admit manslaughter, was agreed with prosecutors in November but the murder trial went ahead after the Cypriot authorities made a legal U-turn.

In May, the defendant told the court his wife begged him for five or six weeks to end her suffering.

He broke down in tears as he told the trial he would "never in a million years" have taken her life unless she had asked him to.

"She wasn't just my wife, she was my best friend," he said, adding her pleas became more intense each day.

He eventually relented and suffocated her after she became "hysterical", he said, adding: "I was hoping she would change her mind. I loved her so much."

He then tried and failed to take his own life, the court heard.

Hunter told reporters his time in a Cypriot prison was "nothing" compared to the last six months of his wife's life.

Speaking in June 2022, the couple's daughter, Lesley Cawthorne, told the BBC her mother had been "in absolute agony" in her final months.

Barry Kent, a friend of Hunter's who has raised thousands of pounds from people in Ashington to help fund legal costs, had travelled to Cyprus to be in court for the verdict.

He said: "I am looking forward to having a beer with him and spending some time with him, whether it is here or back in England.

"To be honest, he needs a good feed. He looked terrible. If we had a meal together we would have a full English.

"He is an absolute shell of himself. When this case started he was a bit more sprightly."