Daughter of David Hunter accused of killing wife in Cyprus speaks out on her fight for his freedom

In her first broadcast interview, the daughter of a Northumberland man, charged with murdering his terminally ill wife in Cyprus says she is desperate to get him home so they grieve her together.

Lesley Cawthorne says while she respects the law, her parents were in a hellish situation and believed this was the only way out.

75-year-old David Hunter’s legal team are trying to get the charge reduced to assisting suicide before the case goes to trial next month.

From her home in Norwich, Lesley is leading her father's fight for freedom.

She said: "My dad is not a bad man, he is not a risk to society. He’s a good kind man that needs to come home.

"I think my mum would be appalled that my dad is in prison, I think she would be absolutely horrified because my mum would always say, and would still say now my dad is the best of men, and was one of life's true gentlemen."

David's lawyers said they had been together for 56 years, but Mrs Hunter was suffering from terminal blood cancer and had wanted to die.

They said her husband tried to take his own life but survived and was charged with murder.

Hunter entered a not guilty plea to a charge of murder at Paphos District Court on Thursday, February 10.

The couple originally from Ashington would have been marking their 20th anniversary in Cyprus this year. 

His lawyers said they had been together for 56 years, but Mrs Hunter was suffering from terminal blood cancer and had wanted to die.

Lesley says she still hasn't grieved for her mum because she needs to stay strong for her dad

David and Janice Hunter retired from Ashington to Cyprus twenty years ago. They had been living the dream in the holiday resort of Paphos, but in December, a nightmare unfolded.

Janice was found dead in their flat and David rushed to intensive care after taking an overdose.

He would later tell them the pain from Janice’s cancer had become unbearable.

Lesley says of the time: "She was really really ill. She was in agony. They didn't have morphine. She didn’t have adequate pain relief, she only had paracetamol.

"I spoke to a friend of theirs who was the last to speak to them, and he could hear my mum in the background and she was in agony and she was screaming in pain and that’s what my dad says he can hear, that’s what he hears in his nightmares, mum screaming in pain.

"He just can't get it out of his head."

David and Janice Hunter had been together for 56 years. Credit: Family photo

In February David denied murdering Janice and a trial date was set for April 18th. Lesley and her legal team hope it does not come to that and have written to the Cypriot Attorney General urging him to reduce the charge.

Lesley speaks to her dad every day from his prison cell.

"He is bereft, they were together for 56 years, it is like a limb is missing. He just misses my mum so so much.

"It would have been my mums birthday this month, and he knows he can't go to the grave himself but he really wants to make sure there are flowers there from him. 

"It's so hard for him. He is 75 in May. He is not going to survive ten to twelve years in a Cypriot jail. He will die alone in a foreign prison. 

"That is what a life sentence will mean for my dad. He deserves so much better than that."

Lesley knows there will be people who do not agree with changing the charge and says: "I respect the law I really do - I respect the culture, the church in Cyprus.

"My parents had a wonderful life out there. I am grateful to the country as they gave my parents a really lovely retirement but what I would also say, is that things aren’t black and white, and there are many shades of grey.

"People looking in from the outside won't always appreciate the hellish situation my parents found themselves in, and the levels of desperation."

The prison in Cyprus where David Hunter is being held. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

It’s been 20 years since David left the North East when the final coal pit closed – but his bond with former colleagues remains.

Many have been helping Lesley to raise money for legal fees through the but they still need half of their thirty thousand pound target.

"I don’t know what I would have done without it. I can't begin to tell people how grateful we are.

"It means the world to us, it has kept my dad going. He can't believe that people think that much of him and want to help him." 

Growing up Lesley tells says her dad was her hero, and would always put her and her mum first.Now she is trying to be his - as she fights to bring him home.   

  • Watch the full report from ITV's Katie Cole