Prosecution appeals sentence in Brit’s ‘mercy killing’

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Cyprus’ prosecution service Thursday appealed against the two-year prison term given to a British pensioner for killing his seriously ill wife.

Prosecutors had until Thursday to submit an appeal following the Paphos Criminal Court decision on July 31.

They are disputing the length of the sentence ruled by the lower court and the dismissal of premeditation for the lesser charge of manslaughter.

David Hunter, 76, was released from custody immediately because of time already served.

He was initially tried for the premeditated murder of his 74-year-old wife, Janice, who suffered from blood cancer, on December 18, 2021.

But he was convicted on July 21 of the lesser charge of manslaughter for what the court heard was the mercy killing of his wife of more than half a century.

Factoring in the time Hunter has already spent behind bars since his arrest and good behaviour, he was freed.

“We are obviously very disappointed with the Attorney General’s decision to appeal today, which gets in the way of David getting on with his life,” said British lawyer Michael Polak of the group Justice Abroad.

“He has spent 19 months in prison and faced legal proceedings over that period that would be difficult for anyone, but especially for someone of his age.

“This is a very sad matter; however, it is difficult to see how the continued pursuit of David assists anyone,” added Thursday’s written statement.

Polak said defence lawyers would “continue to fight” before the Appeal Court of Cyprus “as we have done throughout the lengthy mission to free David”.

“David would like to thank everyone from Cyprus, the United Kingdom, and around the world who have shown such strong support during his trial and since his release.”

The criminal court decision was unanimous, with the three judges saying they had considered the personal circumstances and the need to send a deterrent message.

Hunter, a retired miner from the English region of Northumberland, and his wife had been teenage sweethearts and married for 52 years.

In December 2021, Janice, who was suffering from advanced leukaemia, begged her husband to end her life, the court heard.

Hunter said he had finally acquiesced to his wife’s wishes, smothering her to death in their sitting room in Tremithousa, near Paphos.

Police found Hunter after he overdosed on prescription pills and alcohol in an attempt to take his own life.

In Cyprus, a largely Christian Orthodox country, euthanasia is taboo, and there is no law on assisted suicide.

The judges agreed with the defence case that Hunter had not committed premeditated murder but had acted spontaneously to end the life of his wife, who had been begging him to do so because of the pain she suffered.

Towards the end of her life, Hunter said his wife was so unwell that she could no longer walk upstairs, and they had to sleep in a lounge chair on the ground floor of their home.

During repeated blood transfusions for cancer, Hunter said she repeatedly asked him to end her life.