British pensioner David Hunter was released from prison on Monday after Paphos criminal court handed him a two-year prison sentence on the count of manslaughter.

Taking into account the time served, Hunter, 76, who has been in jail since December 18, 2021 when he killed his wife Janice, Hunter was allowed to walk free.

“I’d like to say thank you to all the people who’ve donated to me, and especially my mates and my workmates. I don’t know where I’d be without them,” a choked Hunter told a team of reporters.

Emerging from Paphos criminal court a free man clad all in black, Hunter could barely speak as he was overcome with emotion. He has served 19 months in jail, which counted towards his release.

The former miner said he couldn’t describe how he felt. “I can’t describe it. I’m sorry. I wish I could, I wish I could find words to describe it but I can’t.

“When you’re under pressure for two years, not knowing which way it’s going to go, you don’t know what to think.”

Reading out the decision, the three judges said the decision was taken jointly and had to send the right message to society, while also taking into account the sensitivities surrounding the case.

“We are not facing a usual case. This is not a case of acting out of animosity or differences between two people that lead to someone taking another’s life.

“Before us is a unique case of taking human life on the basis of feelings of love, with the aim of relieving a person of their suffering that came due to their illness.”

Once the jail term was read out, his defence team initially thought Hunter would be released on August 18. However it quickly emerged that Hunter would be released on the same day. This was based on the calculations of how time in jail is calculated, as well as other factors including good behaviour and the prison’s overpopulation.

“This will give his family time to grieve,” his defence lawyer Michael Polak said.

“It’s obviously a very tragic case and not easy for anyone involved. We’re very pleased with the decision and we think it was fair.”

After his release, Hunter went to the court café to call his daughter Lesley Cawthorne, who is in the UK, to tell her the news. She has been unable to travel due to a health condition.

She told the Mirror “I thought I’d lost him forever. I cannot believe it. It’s amazing. I don’t know what to say. When I see him I’m going to hug him and never, ever let him go. I’m going to feed him and make sure he’s eating and I’m going to just hug him so tightly. I just didn’t think, after the way the case has gone, that this was possible.”

She said speaking to her father “was the most amazing thing. I feel like my heart has been put back together.”

Hunter’s friends in the UK had gathered together to hear the sentencing. Speaking to reporters, he described his “lads” from his mining days as his family and thanked them saying their support was priceless. “When you work in a colliery, you’re a family.”

His wife, Janice Hunter had been suffering from MDS – a form of blood cancer. She was 74 when David suffocated her to death by covering her mouth and nose. He has always maintained that she begged him to take her life to relieve her of the suffering that came with her disease.

Hunter remained unwavering throughout the trial, saying he regretted what he had to do but did it only because she incessantly begged him.

 

The judges said “there may never have been a case like this in Cyprus, at least not in court, where someone took the life of a loved one under these conditions.”

Nonetheless, there are scores of people in society that “are crippled by the difficulties of life, including health issues,” that have not led to people taking the lives of their loved ones.

It is important to consider both the personal circumstances surrounding the case but also the message that the sentence will send to society, the decision read.

In this case, there is no concern of Hunter committing a crime of this nature again, as the crime was driven out of an intention to relieve suffering, judge Michalis Droushiotis said.

“The message to society cannot be other than taking away human life – even with the intention of relieving suffering – is a crime. Law and ethics are the backbone of our society.

“No one can decide when someone’s life should end, even if they are a loved one. Even under unorthodox circumstances such as these, where he sought to relieve Janice of her suffering.”

The personal circumstances put forth by Hunter’s defence: Janice’s suffering and his love for her, “are not enough to mean that under the circumstances he is not jailed.”

“Soon he will be in a position to leave jail, and live his life. She was not only his wife for 52 years but also his best friend.”

Hunter’s defence had pleaded for a suspended sentence but the judges ruled the intricacies of the case were not strong enough to relieve him of any time in prison.

He was found guilty of manslaughter on July 21, relieving fears that Hunter would face a life sentence in jail