David Hunter: British expat's daughter hoping court will show compassion to murder-accused dad

David Hunter is accused of murdering his wife Janice at their home in Cyprus. Credit: PA

The daughter of a British expat accused of murdering his terminally-ill wife has said she is hoping a Cypriot court will show her family compassion as it prepares to deliver its verdict.

Former miner David Hunter is on trial for killing his spouse of 52 years, Janice, who died of asphyxiation in December 2021 at the couple’s retirement home, near the coastal resort town of Paphos.

The 76-year-old denies murder and told a court his wife, who was 74, was suffering with blood cancer and “begged him” to end her life.

On Friday, a three-judge panel will deliver its verdict on whether Hunter committed premeditated murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

David and Janice Hunter were together for more than 50 years. Credit: Family photo

The couple’s daughter Lesley Cawthorne said she is "preparing for the worst" as she awaits the verdict.

She told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "I’m trying to brace myself for the worst but I'm really hoping for the best, I’m hoping to judge will show us some compassion and will help me put my family back together and they’ll give my dad back to me."

She said her father was struggling in prison, where he has been held since December 2021.

She added: "It’s very hard for him. He’s 76 and not in the best of health. He spent 40 years down a mine so that takes a toll and has a history of stroke.

"He’s been through a trauma, he’s grief stricken and away from his family. He’s sharing a cell with 11 other men who don’t speak English so he's lonely. He’s a strong man who’s doing his best to keep it together for me but it’s hard."

Giving evidence in May, Hunter told the District Court in Paphos he would “never in a million years” have taken Janice’s life unless she had asked him to, adding: “She wasn’t just my wife, she was my best friend.”

Hunter demonstrated to the court how he held his hands over Janice’s mouth and nose and said he eventually decided to grant his wife’s wish after she became “hysterical”.

Hunter, from Ashington in Northumberland, said: “For five or six weeks before she died she was asking me to help her. She was asking me more every day.

“In the last week she was crying and begging me. Every day she asked me a bit more intensely to do it.”

Hunter told the court he tried to kill himself after his wife’s death.

When the police arrived to quiz him after his suicide bid failed, he said he “was interested in nothing”.

During closing speeches in June, Hunter’s defence team said it was not a case of premeditated murder and Hunter “acted spontaneously” to end Mrs Hunter’s life “upon her begging him to do so”.

Michael Polak, director of Justice Abroad, which is representing Hunter, told reporters: “This remains a tragic case. Janice and David were loving partners for over 50 years and enjoyed their retirement together in Cyprus until she became ill and was in excruciating pain.

“We remain hopeful that David will receive a verdict that does not deny him a chance of leaving prison and returning home.”

Ms Cawthorne described her parents as a "perfect pairing".

She said: "I want my dad to come home. I love my dad. I have no doubt he was trying to help my mum in the way she wanted to be helped. They were together for over 50 years, they were in love. They were happy, they had a good marriage.

David and Janice Hunter were described as a "perfect pairing" by daughter Lesley Cawthorne. Credit: PA

"My dad is a good, good man and I want him home because that’s what my mum would want and its what I want. It’s what we need as a family."

She added: "They were a perfect pairing. They had been together so long. They knew each other inside out. They would bicker about who had taken the last Kit Kat out of the biscuit tin. The kind of things you’re going to bicker about when you’ve been together for 50 years.

"They were in love. They were very funny together, they would bounce off each other. They had great banter. People liked them and liked being around them. They were great company and just lovely people who had built a lovely life together.

"That’s why it’s so tragic that it has ended like this. Dad is bereft. He is lost without my mum. He doesn’t really know who he is without her."

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