Cyprus court hands British man a 2-year prison term for killing his ailing wife to spare her pain

Cyprus court hands British man a 2-year prison term for killing his ailing wife to spare her pain

A Cyprus court on Monday sentenced a British man who killed his ailing wife in their retirement home to two years in prison, rejecting a defense request to hand down a suspended sentence after convicting him earlier of manslaughter.

State prosecutor Andreas Hadjikyrou said the three-judge bench imposed the prison term as a “deterrent,” although the judges had earlier ruled that David Hunter’s decision to suffocate his wife Janice in December 2021 was made on the spur of the moment because he could no longer stand seeing her weeping in pain.

Hadjikyrou told The Associated Press the court took into account that Hunter, 76, acted “out of love” to save his wife, who was suffering from a blood ailment when he closed her mouth and nose with his hands as she sat in a recliner in their Paphos home.

It also took into consideration Hunter’s advanced age and that he had no previous criminal record.

Justice Abroad, a group that defends Britons facing legal troubles in foreign countries, said in a statement that Hunter could be released by Aug. 18 after already having spent more than 18 months in custody.

“This has been a tragic case and difficult for all of those involved with it, but today’s decision was the right one and allows David and his family to grieve together,” said Michael Polak from Justice Abroad.

Hunter had faced a charge of premeditated murder, but the court found in its July 21 ruling that the prosecution didn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was premeditation in his actions.

The court had accepted witness testimony that Janice feared her blood ailment would develop into full-blown leukemia and had repeatedly pleaded with her husband to take her life because she didn’t want to share the fate of her sister, who died of the disease.

Hunter attempted to take his own life by consuming a large amount of pills after suffocating his wife, but medical staff saved his life.

The court cited expert testimony that Janice Hunter suffered from myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of blood cancer which “to a large degree” – as much as 45% – could turn into leukemia, although there was no proof that she had indeed developed the disease because no definitive tests were conducted.

But the court said both husband and wife believed that Janice would develop it because of her sister’s fate.

David Hunter’s earlier assurances to Janice that he would help her fulfill her wish to end her life and not suffer anymore didn’t indicate any premeditation, the court said.

Hadjikyrou said defense lawyers had rejected a plea deal in December 2022 for the defendant to plead guilty to manslaughter because they insisted the facts of the case include an agreement Hunter and his wife allegedly made for him to take her life.

The state prosecutor said the court didn’t accept that such an agreement had indeed been made. He said the Cyprus attorney-general has 10 days to decide whether to appeal the sentence. [AP]

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