Northumberland man David Hunter accused of Cyprus 'mercy killing' wipes away tears as trial starts

David Hunter is accused of murdering his wife Janice and is standing trial in Cyprus. Credit: Family

A Northumberland miner accused of murdering his terminally ill wife in Cyprus wiped away tears as he went on trial.

David Hunter, 75, is charged with murdering his wife Janice at their home in Paphos in December 2021.

Mr Hunter, who also tried to take his own life and spent two weeks in intensive care, described life without his wife as “like a black hole”.

The trial got underway on Monday 19 September at Paphos District Court after having been delayed twice before.

Speaking to journalists outside the court, Mr Hunter said he wants the trial to take place so he knows where he stands.

David Hunter arrived at the court in Paphos in a prison van. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

The couple, who had been married for 46 years, retired to Cyprus from Ashington in 2002.

Mrs Hunter was diagnosed with terminal blood cancer in 2016.

Mr Hunter's lawyers had tried to get the murder charge reduced to one of assisting suicide, claiming he acted out of love and to end her suffering.

However, the Cypriot Attorney General rejected the request.

Before the hearing, Mr Hunter, who had been driven to the court in a police van from a Nicosia jail, spoke to reporters.

Wearing a black jumper, jeans and trainers he looked frail as he sat on a back row of wooden chairs in the main court room.

He said: “She wasn't just my wife she was my best friend. It’s like a black hole.

"I used to think I could never imagine life without Janice but it’s just so much harder. I just live day to day. I have to keep my chin up.

“Janice's sister had died from leukaemia and she saw what was coming.  She made me promise her if she ever got it to help her. She said I don’t want to go through that. She knew the symptoms and saw them coming.”

The hearing heard from the investigating police officer, who gathered the evidence from the couple home in the small village of Tremithousa on 18 December last year.

Among the 35 items gathered by police were clothes, a mobile phone and an empty bottle of pills, the court heard.

There was also a blue note book which he said he had asked the defendant to confirm was his when he went to visit him in hospital following Mrs Hunter's death.

Thirty of those items were shown to the three judges hearing the case.

The court also heard from the first police officer on scene on 18 December.

Savvas Stelikos said Hunter had answered the door and said: “I’ve killed my wife and tried to commit suicide.”

The officer said he went into the house to find Mrs Hunter on a reclining chair covered with a blanket or sheet.

He said Mr Hunter was then taken by ambulance to a hospital in Paphos.

The court in Pathos, where David Hunter is standing trial. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

He spent time in intensive care before being transferred to a mental health hospital for 10 days.

Mr Hunter is being represented by the organisation Justice Abroad, which questioned whether police had followed protocol when interviewing the defendant.

Investigating officer Christoforus Christoforou was asked if Mr Hunter’s state of mind had been assessed by doctors before he had given a statement.

Mr Christoforou said he had been assessed by a doctor but could not remember whether it had happened before or after he gave a statement.

The court also heard there was no lawyer or translator for Mr Hunter.

The prosecution says Mr Hunter told police he did not want a lawyer, something which his defence refutes.

Speaking from her home in Norwich, the couple's daughter Lesley Hunter, who was unable to travel to Cyprus due to health issues, said: “Things are very difficult for us as a family.

"Nine months of anxiety has taken a massive toll on me but nothing will change my love or support for my dad.“

The trial was adjourned on Monday afternoon until Thursday.

It is expected the case will be heard over a number of days between now and Christmas.

The trial continues.

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