Family fury as Cypriot court rules Brit who told police he killed his wife was ‘lucid’

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Family fury as Cypriot court rules Brit who told police he killed his wife was ‘lucid’

The daughter of the British pensioner accused of murdering his wife in Cyprus has expressed fury after a judge ruled the statements he made immediatel

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The daughter of the British pensioner accused of murdering his wife in Cyprus has expressed fury after a judge ruled the statements he made immediately after her death without a lawyer were ‘lucid’.

David Hunter, 75, gave several written accounts to police detailing how he smothered his terminally ill partner Janice, 74, after she ‘begged’ him to do it.

His defence team argued they should be struck out as he wasn’t in a fit state when he was read his rights to a lawyer as he was suffering from ‘disassociation’.

They say he gave them in a 72-hour period where he had not been psychologically assessed and so was unable to understand that he could have a lawyer present.

But Judge Michalis Droushiotis told Paphos District Court that he and his fellow judges had reached a homogenous decision to allow all the statements.

Former Northumberland coal miner David Hunter, 75, (pictured arriving at Paphos District Court in Cyprus today) is standing trial in Cyprus for premeditated murder after a plea deal on the lesser charge of manslaughter collapsed

Former Northumberland coal miner David Hunter, 75, (pictured arriving at Paphos District Court in Cyprus today) is standing trial in Cyprus for premeditated murder after a plea deal on the lesser charge of manslaughter collapsed

David Hunter, 75, (left) is accused of murdering his wife of 46 years, Janice (right), at their home in Paphos, in December 2021. She was suffering from terminal cancer

David Hunter, 75, (left) is accused of murdering his wife of 46 years, Janice (right), at their home in Paphos, in December 2021. She was suffering from terminal cancer

Mr Droushiotis ruled that Mr Hunter was ‘lucid’, had ‘free will’ and ‘gave statements with his consent’.

They said he was able to call his brother straight after the killing and confess to what he did proving that he was ‘aware of his actions’.

Dismissing the defence’s case, they also said that when Mr Hunter was finally psychologically assessed he did not deny that he had killed his wife.

Mr Hunter’s daughter Lesley, 50, has hit out at the ‘devastating’ verdict.

She made a heartbreaking video call to her father moments after the alleged killing, which was played out to court.

It showed Mr Hunter slumped in a chair and unresponsive as his daughter begged him not to kill himself.

Lesley said: ‘I am devastated and struggling to understand how someone can be judged to be “lucid” when they didn’t even recognise their daughter of 50 years.

‘My dad had taken every pill in the house and downed alcohol. I am baffled at how they could reach such a decision, it doesn’t make sense.’

Michael Polak, of Justice Abroad, who is representing the retired Northumberland miner and previously fought for the British woman falsely accused of making up rape charges in nearby Ayia Napa, slammed the decision.

He told the Mail: ‘David was shocked and dejected by this ruling.

‘We brought a top forensic psychiatrist from Britain to give evidence, but his evidence was totally ignored by the court.

‘We were shocked by this, but we are getting to use to it as during the Ayia Napa case all foreign experts at trial level were rejected.

‘As regards to his rights to a lawyer, for evidence to be taken from a suspect there needs to be an unequivocal reading of the right to a lawyer.’

Mr Hunter’s team are considering challenging the ruling in Europe as the prosecution pushed ahead with the murder trial.

Mr Hunter remains on trial for premeditated murder after a plea deal on the lesser charge of manslaughter collapsed.

He was pictured on Tuesday in handcuffs arriving in court.

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

A police vehicle outside Paphos District Court in Cyprus, where David Hunter is on trial accused of murdering his terminally ill wife, Janice Hunter, in Cyprus

A police vehicle outside Paphos District Court in Cyprus, where David Hunter is on trial accused of murdering his terminally ill wife, Janice Hunter, in Cyprus

On Tuesday, a ruling is expected at Paphos District Court on whether Hunter (pictured) was 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

In February, the court heard legal submissions from Mr Hunter’s defence team arguing he was suffering from dissociation, as claimed by a forensic psychiatrist in evidence, and that statements made to medical professionals were inadmissible against him.

The case was adjourned until March 21 for a decision as to whether the evidence is admissible or inadmissible within the trial.

Mr Hunter signed five statements in the 72 hours after the killing despite not having been offered a lawyer nor been subject to a physiological assessment.

His lawyers say the documents – which were written by Cypriot detectives on his behalf – should therefore be ruled as inadmissible.

Polak said after the last hearing: ‘We were very pleased to have had expert forensic psychiatrist Dr Vivek Furtado give evidence in relation to the psychiatric state of Mr Hunter at the time when statements were taken from him.

‘His evidence, which was clear and compelling, was that Mr Hunter would not have appreciated his rights and the consequence of their waiver at the time because of his psychiatric condition and that it was wrong for him to be interviewed before any psychiatric assessment had taken place.

‘Further to this, the evidence is clear that Mr Hunter’s right to a lawyer, which is treated strictly by both the Cypriot Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights, was not respected as he never provided an unequivocal waiver of his right to a lawyer, as required by European human rights law.’

Mr Hunter has been in jail on remand for more than a year after being arrested and accused of murdering his wife Janice, who was suffering from terminal blood cancer, at their retirement home on the island.

Pictured:  David Hunter (right) is seen with his wife Janice (centre) and their daughter Lesley

Pictured:  David Hunter (right) is seen with his wife Janice (centre) and their daughter Lesley

Pictured: David Hunter (right) and his wife Janice on their wedding day

Pictured: David Hunter (right) and his wife Janice on their wedding day

In December, lawyers representing him said they had been led to believe that a plea bargain was agreed and that he would plead guilty to manslaughter on agreed facts – paving the way for a possible release on compassionate grounds.

But instead, the judge at a district court in Paphos, a holiday resort in western Cyprus popular with Britons, decided to press ahead with his case as a murder trial.

The couple from Northumberland retired to Paphos 20 years ago. When Janice died, they had been married for 46 years, and she was on heavy medication for the condition that her sister had earlier died from.

Speaking in September, Mr Hunter said after a court appearance that Janice had been diagnosed with cancer in 2016 and after watching her sister die of the disease, she ‘knew what was coming’.

He said: ‘She wasn’t just my wife, she was my best friend. It’s like a black hole.’

‘Janice’s sister had died from leukemia and she saw what was coming,’ he said. He has spoken of how his wife ‘begged’ him to take her life and spare her suffering.

It is understood that after allegedly suffocating Janice, Mr Hunter called his brother, William, in the UK to confess to killing his wife – before saying he was going to take his own life with a drugs and alcohol overdose. 

William alerted the police, who dashed to his daughter’s Norfolk home and advised her to video call her father on December 18, 2021. 

Mr Hunter has told police a pact existed between him and his wife that meant after she had died, he would take his own life. However, he was found after relatives alerted police and survived the alleged suicide attempt.

Footage released in January showed Lesley Hunter, the couple’s daughter, pleading down the phone with her father not to kill himself.

Lesley Hunter is seen telling David Hunter, 75, 'you can't leave me' from her Norwich home 2,500 miles away from the British pensioner's retirement villa in Cyprus.

Lesley Hunter (pictured) begged her father not to kill himself in a harrowing video call made moments after he had suffocated her terminally ill mother to death

Lesley Hunter (right) is seen telling David Hunter, 75, ‘you can’t leave me’ from her Norwich home 2,500 miles away from the British pensioner’s retirement villa in Cyprus (left)

Mr Hunter is seen slumped in a chair and barely conscious as his daughter says: ‘Daddy, daddy, just concentrate on me. Daddy concentrate on me.’

‘Daddy, forget about everybody else. Forget about everything else. Concentrate on me. Not on her. Not anybody else, just me and you, daddy, you love me you know you do. I’m your girl,’ she is heard saying in the clip.

‘You’ve always loved me. I’m your girl. I’m your girl, daddy. I’m your little girl.’   

The video was played in court by Mr Hunter’s defence team to demonstrate how the father was ‘in a state of shock and doesn’t understand what is going on’ and should never have been made to sign police statements.

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