21 March 2023

Cyprus court rules Briton’s wife murder confession was lawfully obtained

21 March 2023

A court in Cyprus has ruled that the confession of a retired Northumberland coal miner accused of murdering his terminally-ill wife was obtained lawfully and can be used in evidence against him.

David Hunter, 75, is on trial for premeditated murder after a plea deal on the lesser charge of manslaughter collapsed.

Hunter’s wife Janice, 74, died of asphyxiation in December 2021 at the couple’s retirement home near the coastal resort town of Paphos.

The pensioner’s defence team had argued that his confession should be inadmissible as evidence in the trial, claiming he was not provided with his right to a lawyer or to remain silent before statements were taken from him when he was arrested on suspicion of killing his wife.

They had previously called a forensic psychiatrist to give evidence, who said that Hunter was suffering from dissociation at the time, and that statements made to medical professionals should be inadmissible against him.

On Tuesday, a judge at Paphos District Court dismissed the defence’s application and ruled that Hunter’s statement would be admissible in his trial.

The court found that Hunter was lucid at the time and aware of what was happening, shown by the fact that he took pills and called his brother after killing Mrs Hunter.

Michael Polak, of Justice Abroad, the group representing Hunter, told the PA news agency the retired miner is “shocked and dejected” at the decision.

“We called a forensic psychiatrist to give evidence and his evidence was totally rejected by the court,” Mr Polak said.

“With regards to the right to a lawyer, European human rights law would require David to provide an unequivocal waiver of his right to a lawyer, and in this case there hasn’t been one.”

His defence has said Hunter was acting on the wishes of his wife, who they say was terminally ill with blood cancer.

An agreement between prosecution and defence to reduce the murder charge to manslaughter collapsed late last year after prosecutors refused to accept Hunter’s claim that his wife asked him to end her life unless he provided proof.

State prosecutor Andreas Hadjikyrou told reporters: “If we accept this, every other man in the future who kills a woman will say ‘we had an agreement’.”

Mr Polak said the defence team will apply to the Supreme Court of Cyprus for a judicial review of the decision, which could lead to the trial being paused ahead of the next scheduled hearing on Tuesday March 28.

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