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Defence for Briton on trial for killing wife fails in last attempt to have charge reduced

david hunter, paphos court
David Hunter at Paphos criminal court for a previous hearing (Photo: Christos Theodorides)

A final call by David Hunter’s defence team to have his wife’s killing tried as manslaughter as opposed to premeditated murder failed on Tuesday, after the judge said there was enough evidence to continue the case on the charge of premeditated murder.

Hunter is set to take the stand on Monday, which will give the 75-year-old a chance to give his version of events and respond to all that he has heard at Paphos criminal court.

The retired Northumberland miner has been in prison since his arrest in December 2021, when he confessed to killing his wife Janice Hunter, 74 at the time. He said he did it to end her suffering as she was terminally ill.

During Tuesday’s court session, the haematologist who oversaw Janice Hunter’s treatment shocked the court by saying her patient did not have leukaemia nor was her condition life threatening.

At times with tears in her eyes, Dr Ourania Seimeni told the court: “If her (Janice Hunter’s) life was in danger, I would not have let her leave. I would have admitted her to the hospital.”

Instead, Seimeni said Janice had MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome), a rare type of blood cancer which was not terminal. Defence highlighted that 30 per cent of MDS cases lead to leukaemia.

Monday’s witness Dr Andreas Pantelides put the figure at around 45 per cent, which Seimeni attributed to different literature.

She recounted that Janice had become increasingly agitated with her treatments as she received injections and blood transfusions. The latter was to aid her anaemia, a common symptom of MDS.

Nonetheless, Janice had lost weight, complained of pain and had diarrhoea over her last few months. The doctor had recommended her patient could undergo a colonoscopy to assess what was causing the issue.

Seimeni first saw Janice Hunter in 2016 when she presented with MDS. They continued treatment which had increased in the last few months of her life. The doctor had recommended Janice undergo a myelogram, which is used to test for leukaemia.

Janice, the court heard, did not go to an appointment set for November 9 but saw Seimeni again for her next blood transfusion around two weeks later.

Without the myelogram, Seimeni said she could not conclusively state whether leukaemia was present or not. She also told court she could not say how long Janice had to live – whether it was two months, two years or more.

The doctor told court David Hunter had gone with his wife to every appointment.

Seimeni was the last of the prosecution’s 19 witnesses.

With David Hunter set to take the stand on Monday, his defence team said it is not possible to know how long it will be until a decision is made.

In a short submission to court, Hunter’s defence called on the judge to reconsider changing the charge from premeditated murder to manslaughter for two reasons: that beyond Hunter’s confession there was no conclusive evidence on how Janice Hunter died and no evidence to illustrate that David Hunter had planned the killing.

Prosecution denied the latter saying a psychiatrist who testified said that Hunter had decided the ‘how’ surrounding the killing but not the ‘when’. The psychiatrist stated Hunter had explained he would not tell his wife when he would kill her in case she regretted it and changed her mind.

The judge also said court had heard that Janice Hunter was suffocated by her mouth and nose being covered, with enough evidence to continue the trial on premeditated charges.

Hunter has admitted to killing his wife in their Tremithousa home in December 2021. He said he wanted to put an end to her suffering as she had leukaemia. He then tried to kill himself by overdosing on pills but authorities found him in time after Manchester Interpol alerted local police.

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