PAPHOS: A Briton found guilty of killing his terminally ill wife in Cyprus walked free today after in effect being sentenced to time already served, in what may prove to be a test case for a country that does not permit assisted dying.
Retired miner David Hunter, 76, had been cleared of premeditated murder on July 21 over the death of his wife in December 2021, and instead convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter. The court in Paphos gave him a two-year jail term.
In a verdict that may carry some weight when Cyprus’s parliament discusses euthanasia under medical supervision after the summer, the court had found on July 21 that his action was not premeditated – which would have meant a mandatory life sentence – but the “impulsive act” of a man in torment.
Janice Hunter, 74, had suffered from a rare type of blood cancer. In constant pain, she had repeatedly beseeched David, her husband of more than 50 years, to help her die.
He suffocated her with his hands at their Paphos home, then attempted to take his own life with pills and alcohol.
“The sentencing exercise was not a simple one given that a case like this has never come before the courts of Cyprus before,” said Michael Polak of the advocacy group Justice Abroad.
“We are very pleased with the sentence of the Court today, which means that David will be free immediately.”
In today’s hearing, the criminal court in the western town of Paphos handed Hunter a term of two years in jail, which equated to the time he had already spent in custody.
In Cyprus, a prison year generally means nine calendar months, with up to six days a month in remissions for good behaviour.