Northumberland man David Hunter to face Cyprus murder trial after assisting suicide charge rejected

A plea to reduce the charge of murder against a former miner from Northumberland accused of killing his terminally ill wife in Cyprus has been rejected.

In a letter to the Cypriot Attorney General, lawyers for David Hunter said it was not in the public interest for the 75-year-old to go on trial for murdering his wife Janice.

The letter recommended assisting suicide as a more appropriate charge.

The couple from Ashington, who were grandparents, had been together for 56 years and retired to Paphos twenty years ago.

Janice Hunter was found dead at the home she shared in the village of Tremithousa in Paphos on 18 December, 2021.

David and Janice's former home in Tremithousa, Paphos

Cypriot Police said she had been suffocated and was found dead in an arm chair.

Mr Hunter was found partially sedated after attempting to take his own life.

He spent two weeks in intensive care before being transferred to prison and charged with murder. In February he appeared in court and denied murder and was remanded in jail in Nicosia.

In 2016, Mrs Hunter had been diagnosed with terminal blood cancer.

Mr Hunter claims his wife's final days were spent in unbearable pain and she had begged him to end her life.

Janice Hunter

The couple's daughter, Lesley Hunter, is supporting her fathers fight for freedom and has been fundraising to pay legal costs.

Mr Hunter is represented by the organisation Justice Abroad.

Michael Polak, a barrister for Justice Abroad, said: "We put together lengthy submissions to the Attorney General's drawing on law and guidance from other jurisdictions explaining why a prosecution for murder is inappropriate in the circumstances of this case. 

"We have been informed by the prosecution that these submissions have been rejected but no reasoning was given in the letter for this cause of action."

Justice Abroad says it will continue to request that the prosecution in this case take the principled decision so they bring David back home to his daughter in the UK.

On Monday (18 April), Mr Hunter is due to appear at Paphos Assize Court for the start of his murder trial.

There is some support for the former miner in the village of Tremithousa where he and Janice lived, including from British expats.

Sally- Anne Silverwood-Stagge at the grave of Janice Hunter in Paphos

Sally Anne Silverwood-Stagge didn’t know the couple, but helped daughter Lesley organise her mothers funeral as she was unable to travel to Paphos due to her own health conditions.

Ms Silverwood-Stagge said: "It was just so sad but I did what anybody would do. There was about ten of us, some who knew her some who didn’t.  

"It was very poignant. There is a lot of sympathy here. A lot of the people I spoke to have said they would have done the same thing.

"They were two people in a desperate situation who saw no other way out."

Mr Hunter’s trial is taking place as Cyprus begins to discuss legalising euthanasia, although it faces fierce opposition by the island's Orthodox Church.

The outcome of the case is likely to set a landmark precedent in the country.