A British pensioner accused of the premeditated murder of his terminally ill wife in Cyprus will change his plea to a lesser charge of manslaughter to avoid a life sentence, his lawyers said Friday.
Briton David Hunter, a former miner, faced a 25-year prison sentence if found guilty of plotting to kill his wife rather than manslaughter.
He appeared before the Paphos criminal court on Friday, where judges were told a deal was reached to have him plead guilty to manslaughter when the court reconvenes on 5 December.
“There was a hearing today (18 November) in the Paphos Assize Court where the parties informed the court that there had been agreement as to the facts,” defence lawyer Michael Polak told reporters.
“And Mr Hunter will be entering a plea to manslaughter on agreed facts at the next hearing on 5 December, where mitigation will also be heard,” he added.
Polak is Justice Abroad’s director, defending the 75-year-old Briton who has remained in custody for nearly a year.
“We are very pleased that the murder charge is no longer on the table as our objective all along has been to get David out of prison and back home as soon as possible.”
He said at the e next hearing, there will be strong mitigation for leniency, such as Hunter’s “good character and long and loving relationship with his wife”.
“We hope, given the particular facts of this case and case law in similar cases from around the world, that the eventual sentence is one that the court could consider suspending,” said Polak.
David and Janice Hunter, teenage sweethearts, had lived together for over 50 years when, just 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 hands to block her air passages and smother her to death in the sitting room of the couple’s rented maisonette in Tremithousa, Paphos, on the island’s south coast.
He then attempted to take his own life by overdosing on prescription pills and alcohol before being found by police.
The defence argued it was a case of assisted suicide, not premeditated murder.
Hunter has pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife in what is believed to be the first euthanasia case in Cyprus.