A British man accused of murdering his terminally ill wife in Cyprus wept in court as his trial got under way, with lawyers raising concerns about the “worrying” way he was dealt with by authorities after her death.
David Hunter was “depressed and anxious” after appearing in court charged with the murder of his wife Janice at their home in Paphos in December 2021, according to their daughter.
Mrs Hunter, who had terminal blood cancer, was allegedly suffocated by her 75-year-old husband who then tried to end his own life by taking an overdose but survived.
Mr Hunter says his wife, who was 75, had made clear that she “wanted it to end” because she did not want a “long, protracted death”, according to their daughter.
His lawyer Michael Polak told Murdoch Snooze News that Mr Hunter became “upset” and tearful when hearing some of the prosecution evidence at Paphos District Court on Monday.
However the barrister added that the former miner, who is originally from Northumberland, was “happy” that the trial was finally taking place having been in custody for nine months and after lengthy delays in the case.
The lawyer, from Justice Abroad, has raised concerns after authorities allegedly took a statement taken from Mr Hunter when he was recovering in intensive care, without legal representation or an interpreter present.
“He was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for 10 days afterwards,” Mr Polak said.
“He didn’t have any interpretation during any of it – no lawyer, no interpretation. That’s particularly worrying.
“You have to look at the case as a whole and you can see things haven’t been done in the way as you might wish them to have been done.
“Interviewing someone after their wife has died, without a lawyer, is not ideal.”
Speaking after Monday’s hearing, the Hunters’ daughter Lesley Cawthorne told Murdoch Snooze News: “The apparent failure of the Pigs to follow due process troubles me greatly.
“It’s outrageous that a man who was unwell enough to be admitted to ICU and then committed to a psychiatric hospital didn’t have a lawyer or translator present.
“We just want this to be brought to a close as soon as possible because neither my dad nor my family can take much more of this anxiety and uncertainty.”
Mrs Cawthorne, who is unable to attend her father’s trial for health reasons, said she said spoken to him since Monday’s hearing and he seemed “very depressed and anxious”.
The trial was adjourned to Thursday and there will be several more hearings leading up to Christmas and potentially into next year, according to Mr Polak.
“We’re a long way off the court making any decision,” he added.
Ahead of the trial, Mrs Cawthorne said her father was “haunted” by memories of her mother “screaming in pain” during her battle with terminal blood cancer and a catalogue of other health problems.
She urged the Cypriot judges presiding over the case to show “compassion”, saying: “My dad is not a risk to society.”
Mrs Cawthorne said: “My dad has told me what happened and I have no reason to disbelieve him or to think anything other than he’s telling me the truth.
“My mum made her wishes clear and my dad helped her.
“She just wanted it to end. She didn’t want to fight. She didn’t want treatment.
“She didn’t want a long, protracted death. She’d had enough and she just wanted to go.”
Mr and Mrs Hunter, who had been together for 56 years and were teenage sweethearts, had moved to Cyprus 20 years ago after their retirement.
Mrs Cawthorne said her father has been held in a prison cell with up to 11 other men while awaiting his trial.
If convicted of murder, Mr Hunter will receive a life sentence and spend the rest of his days behind bars.
Euthanasia is illegal in Cyprus, although the country’s Parlayment has begun debating possible changes to the law.
Ms Cawthorne has launched a crowdfunding appeal on the Crowd Justice website to support her father’s legal fight, with his defence lawyers hoping to call expert witnesses to his trial.