British pensioner David Hunter, 75 said he and his wife lived through hell together as she battled her illness which left her housebound for almost four years. Taking the stand at Paphos criminal court on Monday for almost six hours, he said he regretted what he “had to do” to end her suffering.
“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” Hunter told court with tears in his eyes.
“I regret what I had to do. What I did.”
Hunter is on trial for premeditated murder of his wife Janice Hunter, who was 74 in December 2021 when he suffocated her to death. He described weeks of her incessantly begging him to take her life as she could no longer bear the suffering of her disease. She was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2016.
“I would never in a million years taken my wife’s life if she hadn’t asked me. She wasn’t just my wife she was my best friend,” he told court in tears.
During an emotionally charged hearing, Hunter illustrated exactly how he killed his wife, demonstrating his right hand covered Janice’s mouth while his other hand pinched her nose.
He said after her death, her face turned grey. “My wife was a grey colour, she looked nothing like my wife. It was the first time I cried in years.
Wearing black jeans and a black shirt, Hunter fought back against prosecution’s suggestions that he killed Janice without giving her a chance to say she changed her mind about her request to die.
“I had no reason to kill her. You don’t kill someone you’ve been living with for 57 years. I didn’t have any other women, I never went out without her.”
Hunter explained his wife’s condition had been deteriorating for months and in her last six weeks, kept begging him to help her by putting an end to her suffering. In fact, things were so bad that she had to wear diapers for around three years as one of the side effects of her medication was diarrhoea.
It made her feel ashamed and she could not leave the house, he told court.
She had lost so much weight, doctors were struggling to find a vein to put injections in, he explained.
“My wife’s life was going in and out of hospital, and then going home. She never went outside. She never went from the house anywhere due to diarrhoea because she didn’t know when it would happen. For three and a half years years she wore diapers, and she was very ashamed about that.”
On one occasion Janice started becoming “hysteric” and in an attempt to placate her Hunter agreed he would end her life but would not tell her the when or how.
“I had no intention to kill her. I was hoping something good would happen, a small miracle. That she would change her mind. She kept asking me after that and crying. I didn’t want to kill my wife; I loved her so much.”
He described how he told his wife: “if you go, we both go.” That there was no chance he would kill her without him going to jail. He denied any of this was planned – premeditated – saying he never had any intention to kill her.
Instead, he described how he went to make a cup of coffee, and his mind “switched off.”
Had Hunter planned to kill her, he would have made sure to have taken a lot more sleeping pills for himself, he told court.
After suffocating her, Hunter took “every pill in the house” and a bottle of alcohol to kill himself. His attempt to kill himself was thwarted after his brother – whom he called after killing Janice – informed British police which in turn alerted Interpol in Cyprus.
Prosecution laid out six packets of painkillers in front of David, which he admitted he took.
Responding to the prosecution’s statement that he had opted for a painless end to his life as opposed to the ordeal he put Janice through, Hunter said Janice was unable to swallow pills.
Prosecution asked why he hadn’t sought help, including finding another doctor or seeking the help of a psychologist for Janice, Hunter responded that a wife asking for her husband to kill her is not the kind of thing that people broadcast.
He also stressed he was not in a right frame of mind as he was constantly plagued by her request to kill her while witnessing her suffer. “I felt helpless to do anything.”
“If I was in my right mind, why would I turn down a lawyer and my rights? My mind was not functioning properly. There are things I remember things I don’t. Sometimes truth is stranger than imagination.”
Prosecution also told Hunter that his wife’s illness was not terminal, that she had Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) rather that leukemia.
“We’re not arguing about what she had or didn’t have, Hunter said visibly upset. “We’re talking about her treatment. She might’ve lived another two years but I didn’t want to see her in this much pain and suffering. In her mind, she didn’t want to live. I wanted to live with her for as long as I could. 57 years together it’s the last thing I would want to do.”
Hunter and his wife moved to Cyprus in 2001, in which he said their “life together in Cyprus was fantastic.”
He recalled how they met when he was 18 and she 19 while out for drinks. “She came from the dancefloor and told me I was sitting at her seat. Then she asked me to dance.”
When he saw her for the first time, Hunter said he thought to himself “I’ve never seen such beauty”. Though they lost two sons, they had one daughter – the first to ever go to university from the family – and described their marital life as “perfect.”
Hunter said he worked seven days a week to raise the funds to send his daughter to university and his wife was a housewife.
A few years ago, he suffered a stroke that although he has recovered from, has resulted in impacting his memory, he said.
On the day of the killing, Hunter described that after police arrived to the scene and started asking him questions his mind “wasn’t there.”
“A man sat in front of me and started asking me questions. After what I did, as I didn’t manage to kill myself, I couldn’t care less about what they would do. They asked me questions but my mind wasn’t there.”
The trial will resume on May 23 where defence is set to bring the next witnesses.