David Hunter murder trial: Former miner says ill wife 'begged' him to help her die

David Hunter, accused of murdering his wife Janice, has been giving evidence at a court in Cyprus. Credit: PA

A British man on trial for murdering his wife in Cyprus has told a court his wife begged him to help her die.

David Hunter, a former miner from Northumberland, said he killed his wife Janice, 74, at their home in Paphos in December 2021 to end her pain from incurable blood cancer.

The court has previously heard from a doctor who could not say if her cancer was terminal.

Mr Hunter has been on trial since September 2022 and gave evidence at the hearing on Monday 15 May.

The 75-year-old told the court he and his wife met in Ashington and got married in 1969.

The couple, who have one daughter who is supporting her father, retired to Cyprus in 2001 and said the first sixteen years before Mrs Hunter got ill were "fantastic", Mr Hunter said.

David and Janice Hunter retired to Cyprus after leaving the UK. Credit: Family

In 2016 Mr Hunter told the court he had had a stroke and it was when they were at hospital for his check up a doctor carried out tests on his wife because she was "as white as paper."

She was later diagnosed with Melofia Plasticia (MBS), a type of blood cancer.

He said Mrs Hunter received injections twice a week, was "pale and always tired" and on one occasion had been admitted to a hospital in Nicosia because her life was in danger.

He said during the pandemic they ran out of injections for two and a half weeks and her condition was deteriorating.

He also said they changed the type of injections three times and she started to suffer from nosebleeds and diarrhoea.

He said the local haematologist denied these were medication symptoms and referred them to their GP for painkillers but he was unable to prescribe them because he was not a haematologist so could not tell what the adverse reaction could be.

Mr Hunter told the court his wife had a number of other conditions including lesions on her face. He added: “Her life was going to the hospital and back. She would never leave the house because of her diarrhoea and had to wear diapers. She was ashamed."

When asked how his wife's health was during the last week of her life, he replied: "She cried and begged me to help her. I couldn’t do anything. We had to sleep on the ground floor because she couldn’t go up the stairs.

"We had two reclining chairs and we slept there for the last two weeks. I saw her pain all the time. She lay there and I leave helpless to do anything.""Five to six weeks before she died she asked me to help her and I said no. She asked me more and more, I said no, I didn’t want to.

"After 57 years together, I couldn’t do it, the last week she just cried and begged to help her. I wouldn’t answer. The next time she asked she cried again. She told me this is not a life for me, it's just hospital and home, that’s what we did for three to four years.

The Hunter's home in Paphos. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

"There was no quality of life. I said no again and she cried again and started becoming a bit hysterical and I said 'okay, I won't tell you when, or how'.

"I didn’t intend to do it, it was just to comfort her."

He said in the last two to three days before her death Mrs Hunter could not move her arms, she could not stand and was unable to eat any solid foods. He said she had lost weight and had to inject her treatment on her belly as there was not enough flesh to inject her arm.

He says he cannot remember much about December 18 2021, the day his wife was found dead in an arm chair in the room of their home in Paphos.

"I got up to make coffee and she started crying even more," he said. "My mind switched off. I never wanted to kill her.

"I remember placing my hands on her nose and mouth, I don’t know how I thought about it, I kept them there for I don’t know how long. She never moved her feet, she never resisted. I don’t think she even opened her eyes."

He told the court he does not remember much after that and had no recollection of meeting his brother on Facebook.

The court previously heard he told his brother on Facebook what he had done and that he had tried to take his own life. His brother alerted police.

Mr Hunter said he remembered the police arriving and telling him to sit down. He told the court: “I hadn’t managed to kill myself, I didn’t care about anything”.

Mr Hunter told the court his wife's sister had died of the same disease and she told him she did not want to live if she got this sickness because she had witnessed how her sister had suffered.

He said: "It was killing me I couldn't do anything for her. I regret what I had to do. I would never have helped her take her life if she didn’t beg me to."

David and Janice Hunter had been together almost 60 years. Credit: Family

David Hunter was then cross-examined by the prosecution .

He was asked to confirm he told a doctor that he had not told Janice he was going to end her life.

Mr Hunter replied: "For six weeks continuously, she asked me if I would help here and I would say no. The more time passed, the more she asked me, and at some point she started crying and begging me, she started becoming hysterical, and to comfort her, I said 'okay I will help you, I will do it, I won't tell you how and when' and this comforted her.

"But at the same time I had no intention to kill her. I was hoping for for a small miracle, something good, that she would change her mind, I had no intention to do it but she continued to beg me. I had no intention of killing my wife, I loved her so much."

The prosecutor said he had done this without the consent of Mrs Hunter. Responding, Mr Hunter said: "That is not true ,there was no premeditation, I said what I said to comfort her."

The prosecutor put to Mr Hunter: "You had it organised in your mind the way you would do it, and you did that in a period of time that you were sober and there was time to back out of it. You didn't do that and insisted on bringing death to your wife."

Mr Hunter replied: "For six weeks, she was asking, she was in pain, she was suffering, I couldn’t do anything to help her. The last thing on my mind was to take her life, I wasn’t sitting there planning it."

The court heard the following day, Mr Hunter told a doctor he was unsure if what he did was right or wrong, if he was a coward or had courage. He also told them that he did not want to live without his wife and he wanted to die.

Mr Hunter told the court "That's the way I felt."

He added: "My mind was here and there, when you first took my statement. If my mind was well and here, why would I refuse a lawyer? My mind wasn’t working properly, some things I remember some others I don’t. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction."

The prosecution said it was selfish what Mr Hunter had done and he said: "I agree."

The trial continues at Paphos Court.

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