David Hunter: Cyprus MP says finding Ashington man guilty of murder would be a tragedy

Cypriot MP Alexandra Attalides said David Hunter's case had prompted her to start a debate on euthanasia in Cyprus.

A Cypriot MP has said finding a Northumberland man guilty of murdering his terminally ill wife would be a tragedy.

Alexandra Attalides is an MP for the Green Party in Cyprus and spoke to ITV News Tyne Tees ahead of David Hunter’s murder trial in Paphos on Thursday 16 June.

Mr Hunter, 75, is charged with murdering his wife of 56 years, Janice, at their home in Paphos in December 2021.

It is a charge that his lawyers have unsuccessfully attempted to reduce to assisted suicide, something that Ms Attalides has given her backing to.

“I am not the judge and its’ not the law of the country and in Cyprus there is no assisting suicide," she said.

"It’s very painful and I feel for him and I hope the judge will take into account the condition of his wife, his daughter’s testimony and all the people that knew they were a loving couple. Maybe they will be lenient.

"I stand by them, they have lived a tragedy. Hopefully they don’t have to live another one.”

David Hunter and his wife Janice who had been married for 56 years. Credit: Family photo

Mr Hunter's murder trial is due to start at Paphos District Court on Thursday.

It is the second time it has been listed to start having been adjourned in April so more evidence could be gathered, including Mrs Hunter’s post mortem examination report.

At the previous hearing the court heard Mr Hunter told police he killed his wife to save her as the pain from her terminal cancer had become unbearable.

He also tried to take his own life and spent two weeks in intensive care.

Mr Hunter's lawyers had called on the Cypriot Attorney General to reduce the chargeto assisting suicide but it was rejected.

Former miner David Hunter retired to Paphos from Ashington when the pits closed. Credit: Family photo

Euthanisia is illegal in Cyprus but a debate has started.

Ms Attalides is one of two MPs to start the debate on legalising euthanasia in the country and said she encouraged it because of the former Ashington miner's case.

She said: "The case of David Hunter is what made me put the issue forward to the humans rights committee because I find it very sad that an elderly man who, according to his daughter, dearly loved his wife, was alone in a foreign country, which is not the best situation when you have a terminally ill relative.

"In Cyprus we don’t have the support system that other countries have where they visit you every day, they help you with the patient, they help you relax or go for a walk, so I think thisman was under huge emotional and physical stress as well.

"Before we judge anybody we need to judge our medical systems all over Europe. If we cannot provide the medical treatment to terminally ill people so they don’t suffer and they are not alone and if we don’t have the resources of the medical staff to go and visit and support families psychologically then we as a society can not judge. It’s not ethical."

In May the national bioethics committee presented a survey after speaking to 750 Cypriots and said 60% agreed with the legalisation of euthanasia.

But Ms Attalides it was unlikely to be voted on in parliament before the next elections in February next year.

Any proposed bill is expected to face strong criticism from the Greek Orthodox Church.

Ms Attalides said she believed euthanasia should be allowed when expressed by the patient and for terminally ill patients who would have a painful end of life otherwise.

"I don’t believe we should let people die in pain because of religion," she added. "It’s not for everybody of course, we need to say it is for when someone is terminally ill and there is no way of going back and nothing to hope for and it’s going to be too painful and too long.

"It is going to a very difficult law to pass but it is being prepared now and by next year I hope we will have a vote on a euthanasia bill.”

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