The desperate daughter of a British expat has issued an emotional plea to Cyprus judges accused of murdering his terminally ill wife to free her father and ‘help reunite my family’.
David Hunter spent 19 months caged in a Cypriot prison cell with 11 hardened inmates after strangling his wife Janice, 74, in December 2021.
The retired miner, 76, said his wife was battling blood cancer and begged him to end her suffering, with his lawyers claiming the death was an assisted suicide. But he has been charged with murder, with three Cypriot judges set to decide his fate on Friday.
In a tearful plea ahead of tomorrow’s verdict, David and Janice’s daughter Lesley Cawthorne pleaded with Cypriot judges to ‘show us our sympathy’ as she insisted her father took the life of his wife of 52-years.
Holding back tears, a visibly emotional Lesley told Good Morning Britain: ‘I’m trying to prepare myself for the worst but I’m really hoping for the best. I am hoping that the judges will show us some sympathy and that they will help me reunite my family and that they will give me my father back.’
David Hunter (left) spent 19 months caged in a Cypriot prison cell with 11 hardline inmates after strangling his wife Janice (right), 74, in December 2021.
In a tearful plea ahead of tomorrow’s verdict, David and Janice’s daughter Leslie Cawthorne (pictured on Good Morning Britain today) pleaded with Cypriot judges to ‘show us our sympathy’.
Mr Hunter overdosed on drugs and alcohol at their retirement home in Tremithousa, near Paphos, before killing his 74-year-old wife after ‘begging’ her to kill him.
But doctors managed to revive him before he was arrested on suspicion of premeditated murder – and he has been held in a high-security prison in Nicosia ever since.
If convicted of murder, the former miner from Ashington, Northumberland, faces a mandatory life sentence.
Ms Cawthorn said she was ‘not feeling very optimistic’ ahead of the court’s decision.
She said her father was ‘worried, tired and lonely’ and the past 19 months had ‘taken a huge toll on him’ and left his family ‘devastated’ and ‘heartbroken’.
Leslie told GMB: ‘I want my dad to come home. I love my father. I have no doubt that he helped my mother the way he wanted to be helped.
‘They were together for over 50 years. They were in love. They were happy. They had a good marriage. My father is a good, good man and I want him home because that’s what my mother would want, that’s what I want and that’s what we need as a family.’
Mr Hunter attempted to take his own life by strangling his wife but was saved by medics. During his trial at Paphos Assize Court, harrowing footage of the moments immediately after the incident was shown.
David Hunter has been locked up for 19 months after strangling his wife, who was suffering from blood cancer. His lawyers say the murder was an assisted suicide
On Friday, a three-judge panel will rule on whether Hunter committed premeditated murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence. Photo: David and Janice Hunter seen on their wedding day
In it, daughter Lesley is seen desperately calling her father and telling him: ‘You can’t leave me.’
An emotional David watched in court as the video showed Leslie screaming for her life.
‘Dad, just focus on me,’ she pleaded. ‘Forget everyone else and focus on me.
‘Father you love me, you know, I am your daughter. I am the father of your little girl.
‘I remember how you walked me down the aisle and you said I was beautiful.
‘You can’t leave me father. I am begging you.
‘We really love you – we don’t care what you’ve done. We just want you to be safe.’
Speaking today, Leslie said the family struggled to deal with the ‘minefield’ of the Cypriot legal system.
The grieving girl also revealed how seriously ill and in pain her mother was as her parents tried to ‘protect’ her.
He told GMB they never told him how much pain Janice was in and that she wanted to die. He also added that they ‘dodged’ his mother’s calls and ‘FaceTime requests’ in the weeks leading up to her death.
Custody vans arrive at Paphos District Court in Cyprus where David Hunter, from Northumberland, is appearing accused of murdering his terminally ill wife, Janice Hunter
David Hunter with his wife Janice and daughter Leslie (left). Cypriot judges will deliver their verdict on his murder trial on Friday
‘They were always the kind of parents who wanted to protect me… They carried on until the end. That’s one of the things that makes it so hard because I didn’t know. If I had known maybe things would have ended differently. But they just wanted to protect me,’ said Leslie.
Since going to jail, David has been able to speak to his family ‘five or six times a week’, Leslie said, adding that the pair last spoke on Tuesday.
But he warned the toll of the trial and the loss of his wife left Mr Hunter devastated.
‘My father is lost, and he is lost without my mother. He doesn’t really know who he is without my mother,’ she said.
Describing his prison cell conditions, Leslie added: ‘It’s very difficult for him. His age is 76. His health is not good. He spent 40 years in a mine. That takes its toll on your health.
‘He went through a huge trauma. He is sad. He’s away from his family, he’s sharing a cell with 11 other men who don’t speak English so he’s lonely. He’s trying his best to keep himself together but it’s hard.’
Ms Cawthorne said the long trial and earlier court rulings left the family ‘dismayed’ that the confessions her father made when he was arrested could be used as evidence against him.
The pensioner’s defense team argued his confession should have been inadmissible and claimed he was suffering from a mental health disorder at the time, but a judge found Mr Hunter lucid and dismissed the plea.
Giving evidence in May, Mr Hunter told the District Court in Paphos that he would ‘never in a million years’ have killed his wife unless he had told her to, adding: ‘She was not only my wife, she was my best friend. ‘
Ms Cawthorne said her parents were ‘best friends’ who had ‘built this beautiful life together’.
Mr Hunter’s daughter Leslie said her father was ‘anxious, tired and lonely’ and the past ’19 months had taken a toll on him’.
Mr Hunter, 76, is pictured arriving at Paphos Assize Court on May 15 to give evidence about his wife’s death.
The couple would visit Cyprus on holiday and bought a property there in 1999 before moving two years later to retire there.
During his court hearing in May, Mr Hunter told how his teenage girlfriend was reduced to wearing nappies, covered in skin lesions and unable to cope with her devastating blood cancer.
Mr Hunter said: ‘Apart from a couple of operations it was absolutely fantastic for the first 16 years before he got sick.’
But Mr Hunter suffered a stroke in 2015 and during regular hospital visits for his treatment a doctor noticed his wife looked very pale.
He was diagnosed with blood cancer and had to travel to the capital Nicosia every week for procedures and injections.
He asked to go to Paphos General Hospital as his condition worsened as he couldn’t face the journey, but that stopped when Covid struck and so they kept his injections in their fridge and self-medicated.
Mr Hunter told how he called the hospital five times a day but there was no answer, and he was forced to travel further afield to seek help and supplies.
He took two 125-euro injections per week but began suffering side effects including diarrhea, headaches, dizziness and nosebleeds.
Mr Hunter and his wife Janice would visit Cyprus on holiday and bought a property there in 1999. The image is of a typical scene from the village of Tremythoussa where Mrs Hunter was allegedly murdered
Ms. Hunter’s hemoglobin levels were such that she was unable to take painkillers and was in agony at home, unable to move.
In his final months he underwent a series of operations for skin lesions on his face and hands, as well as a knee operation and another for his collarbone.
He demonstrated to the court how he held his hand over Janice’s face and nose and said he finally decided to grant his wish after his wife became ‘hysterical’.
The pensioner told the court: ‘He asked me to help him five or six weeks before he died. He was asking me more everyday.
‘Last week she was crying and begging me. Every day he asked me to do it a little more intensely.’
The pensioner told the court that he tried to commit suicide after the death of his wife.
When the police came to question him after the failed suicide attempt, he said he was ‘not interested in anything’.
During closing arguments in June, Hunter’s defense team said it was not a case of premeditated murder and that Hunter had ‘acted spontaneously’ to end Ms Hunter’s life ‘due to her request’.
Michael Pollack, director of Justice Abroad, which represents Hunter, told reporters: ‘This remains a shocking case. Janice and David were loving partners for over 50 years and enjoyed their retirement together in Cyprus until he became ill and was in unbearable pain.
‘We are hopeful that David will receive a sentence that does not deny him the opportunity to leave prison and return home.’
Speaking to the press after an earlier hearing, Mr Hunter said: ‘When he asked me for six weeks, it was 24 hours. She was my wife, my best friend.
‘The last six months, I don’t want anyone to go through that. Although the prison is nothing compared to what we went through.’
The verdict in the case is scheduled to be announced tomorrow.
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