NICOSIA – A British pensioner who Cypriot authorities said murdered his terminally-ill partner wants the charge reduced to assisted suicide, claiming she wanted to die although euthanasia isn’t lawful on the island.
David Hunt had confessed to the killing of his lifelong partner, Janice, in their home in Paphos in December, 2021, and pleaded not guilty to murder, the British newspaper The Guardian reported about the case.
“We will be asking the Attorney-General to change the charge to assisted suicide which fits perfectly to the facts of this case,” said Michael Polak, a lawyer with the British legal aid group Justice Abroad who had flown in from London as part of the defense team.
“At a time when the Parliament of Cyprus is discussing the legislation of euthanasia … we will be submitting that assisting suicide would be a much more appropriate charge than murder which carries a mandatory life sentence,” he said, the report added.
A retired miner, Hunter, 74, told police he suffocated her until she died in his hands as part of a suicide pact she wanted to relief unbearable pain from blood cancer.
He said he then tried to kill himself too, prescription pills and alcohol, before authorities, alerted by relatives in the United Kingdom, went to the house and found him slumped on a sofa next to his partner. She was 75.
Speaking via an interpreter, he said “not guilty” when a prosecutor presented the charge of premeditated murder. The three-member bench ordered that he continue to be detained in jail until the court reconvenes on April 18.
He was supported by the couple’s daughter, Lesley, who said that her “bewildered terrified” father had relieved her mother of great suffering, the report added.
“My parents were together for 56 years and doted on each other. They were teenage sweethearts who couldn’t bear to be apart,” she wrote on the campaigning platform Crowd Justice.
“When they retired, they moved to Cyprus, a place they both loved. Over the last five years my mum became increasingly unwell. She was suffering from blood cancer and was in a great deal of pain and her quality of life had drastically diminished. This was a terminal disease that had taken the life of her sister, and the pain she was under was getting worse and worse. She wanted to die and wanted for her suffering to be ended.”
She said she was glad her father was still alive and wants him released to be able to return to the UK to have support.
“My dad devoted himself to caring for my mum. We love him very much and want to help him in any way possible,” she said. “My father is in the latter stages of his life, and we just want him to be with us,” she said.
“Everybody, it seems, here in Cyprus, from prison guards to members of the general public, have been overwhelmingly supportive of him,” Polak told the Guardian. “I don’t believe that people in Cyprus think prosecution for murder is an appropriate action in this case,” he also added.