The Paphos trial of a British pensioner accused of the premeditated murder of his terminally ill wife has been adjourned so a plea bargain can be done to prevent him from getting a life sentence.
David Hunter, a former Northumberland miner, faces a 25-year prison sentence if found guilty.
On Wednesday, the Paphos criminal court reconvened to hear the groundbreaking case; it became clear that the Briton’s fate hung on an agreement being reached that would have him plead guilty to manslaughter when the court sits again on 18 November.
“We have studied the case and recommended that the charge be changed from premeditated murder to manslaughter,” deputy state prosecutor Andreas Hadjikyrou told reporters.
“It is the right thing for David. He would otherwise spend the rest of his life in prison.”
David and Janice Hunter, teenage sweethearts when they first fell in love, had lived together for more than 50 years when, less than a week before Christmas last year, the 75-year-old allegedly urged her husband to end what had become a life of extreme suffering due to advanced leukaemia.
Hunter said he finally succumbed to his wife’s wishes, using his bare hands to block her air passages and smother her to death – an act that took 15 minutes – in the sitting room of the couple’s rented maisonette in Tremithousa, Paphos.
He then attempted to take his own life by overdosing on prescription pills and alcohol before being found by police, alerted by his brother, whom Hunter had called.
Justice Abroad, defending the 75-year-old Briton, said the “prosecution and defence moved closer to an agreement on the facts of the case with the view to a possible plea deal at the next hearing”.
Michael Polak, director of Justice Abroad, said: “This is truly a tragic case, but it is pleasing that the prosecution and defence are moving closer together in regards agreeing the facts of this matter.
“We hope that the next hearing will be the final substantive hearing and that we are moving closer to getting David home to his family in the United Kingdom.”
The defence argues it was a case of assisted suicide, not pre-meditated murder.
David’s daughter, Lesley Cawthorne, said, “As a family, we still very much want to bring my dad home so that he can spend his remaining years with the people who love him.”