Key ruling next month in ‘mercy killing’ trial

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A Paphos court will decide on 21 March whether a 75-year-old British man accused of murdering his seriously ill wife had his legal rights disregarded by police.

David Hunter is facing murder charges after the death of his wife, Janice, in 2021, who was suffering from terminal blood cancer.

On Tuesday, the criminal court received legal and written submissions from the defence of over 30 pages, arguing that Hunter was not provided with his right to a lawyer or to remain silent.

His defence argues that the Briton was traumatised when police took a statement from him after the incident.

In earlier hearings, an expert forensic psychiatrist told the court that he was suffering from dissociation, and thus statements made to medical professionals were inadmissible against him.

Defence lawyers urged the court to exclude Hunter’s statements to a prosecution witness, which were presented in court.

The hearing was adjourned for the court to decide whether the evidence is admissible or inadmissible within the trial.

The trial will then continue after judgment has been delivered regarding the Voire Dire.

UK-based Justice Abroad is organising the legal defence of Hunter, who they believe should not be on trial for murder.

“We were very pleased to have had expert forensic psychiatrist Dr Vivek Furtado give evidence in relation to the psychiatric state of Mr Hunter at the time when statements were taken from him.

“His evidence, which was clear and compelling, was that Mr Hunter would not have appreciated his rights and the consequence of their waiver at the time because of his psychiatric condition and that it was wrong for him to be interviewed before any psychiatric assessment had taken place,” said Justice Abroad’s Michael Polak.

He added: “The evidence is clear that Mr Hunter’s right to a lawyer, which is treated strictly by both the Cypriot Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights, was not respected as he never provided an unequivocal waiver of his right to a lawyer, as required by European human rights law, and he was not afforded the right to a lawyer from the moment he was a suspect.”

Voluntary

State prosecutor Andreas Hadjikyrou denies the defence’s arguments and said Hunter’s statements were voluntary and in writing.

Hunter’s wife, 74, died in December 2021 at the couple’s retirement home in Paphos, where many of the island’s up to 60,000 British expatriates live.

David 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.

He then attempted to take his own life by overdosing on prescription pills and alcohol before being found by police.

His daughter, Lesley, has said that her mother had “begged him for a long time (to assist her death) and was very clear about what she wanted.”

Although manslaughter carries a maximum life sentence, it is unlikely Hunter will receive a long prison term, Hadjikyrou said in December.

The Briton could serve any prison sentence in the UK, although he has been behind bars for 14 months.

Although Hunter reportedly said he wants to stay in Cyprus as his wife is buried on the island.