David Hunter’s daughter begged him over the phone to stay alive in the minutes after he killed his terminally ill wife Janice and then attempted suicide.
Paphos court on Wednesday was shown video footage between Hunter and his daughter – Lesley Cawthorne, aged 49 – in which she sought to focus the 74-year-old on staying alive, saying “daddy, just concentrate on me”.
“Daddy you love me, you know you do, I’m your girl. I’m your little girl daddy,” Lesley is heard crying out, stressing that “I remember how you walked me down the aisle and you said I was beautiful”.
“You cannot leave me daddy. I beg you.
“We really love you – we do not care what you have done. We just want you safe.”
In the background of the video call on Lesley’s end, a police officer can be heard asking her father if he had taken something – implying attempted suicide.
David Hunter – accused of murdering his wife, suffering from terminal leukemia, in Tremithousa December 2021, is understood to have called his brother, William, back in the UK to confess.
William immediately alerted the police who in turn rushed to Lesley’s house and urged her to call her father.
Hunter has been in custody since his initial arrest in Tremithousa where he lived with his wife.
In a twist last month, the charges faced by the 74-year-old remained unchanged despite hopes it might be mitigated to manslaughter.
After the Paphos court had adjourned last month, it appeared that the two sides had agreed the facts of the case, which would have allowed Hunter to change his plea from non-admission to murder, on condition that he be charged with manslaughter which carries a far lighter sentence.
However, in a last-minute decision, the attorney-general decided to reject the change.
Justice Abroad’s Michael Polak, one of David’s lawyers, explained after Wednesday’s court session that: “The reason we played the video in court is because it shows David is in a state of shock and doesn’t understand what’s going on around him.
“We say that when the statements were taken from him by police he was in no state to be interviewed.”
Polak further argued that the police should not have interviewed David until a psychiatrist assessment had been carried out – so as to make sure that the evidence is reliable.
“This, along with the fact he didn’t have a lawyer or interpretation, mean that those statements should be excluded from the case.”
Polak sought to counterbalance the prosecution’s argument in court on Tuesday that Hunter was lucid.
According to one of the first people at the scene – an ambulance crew member – Hunter was “was lucid during his transport to Paphos general hospital, despite refusing any treatment”.
Hunter’s defence lawyer Ritsa Pekri argued that her client could not have been lucid during the journey from his house to the hospital due to the dangerously high number of pills he had ingested.
“His state of mind did not allow him to understand what he was saying or indeed thinking,” Pekri said. “He could not understand what was going on at the time.”
On Tuesday, state prosecutor Andreas Hadjikyriou argued that accepting Hunter’s arguments could set a dangerous judicial precedent for future cases.
The trial is set to continue next Thursday.
According to the case history, in December 2021 Hunter caused the death of his wife Janice, terminally ill with cancer, because he could not bear to watch her suffer.
In his statement to the police and to his brother after the crime, Hunter had claimed that what he did was also his wife’s will, but this was not accepted by the prosecution.
Hadjikyrou cast doubt on whether the killing had been agreed upon, saying that while Hunter may have killed his wife out of pity, that does not mean she had consented to it.
The prosecution says there was no physical or verbal proof of the agreement. It has also argued that accepting this could set a precedent for future crimes on trial.