British man who smothered cancer-stricken wife 'wants to kill himself'

British husband, 74, who smothered his cancer-stricken wife at their home in Cyprus ‘wants to kill himself after failed suicide pact’ as he remains in jail charged with her murder

  • David Hunter, 74, suffocated his wife Janice, 75, to death in December last year
  • She had been living in excruciating pain caused by her incurable leukaemia
  • He attempted to kill himself after her death at their home near Paphos in Cyprus  
  • But he survived and has now been charged with Janice’s murder by prosecutors 
  • The couple’s daughter says he insists he wants to die to be with his late wife 
  • Lesley, 49, wants the charges reduced so there’s a chance for him to come home 
  • If you need help you can call Samaritans on 116 123 or visit

A man who is facing life in prison for killing his terminally ill wife in a failed suicide pact has told his daughter he will kill himself to be with her again.

David Hunter, a retired coal miner, is currently in prison in Cyprus after suffocating his wife, Janice, at their home near Paphos as she was suffering from leukaemia. 

The 74-year-old killed his wife of 56 years in December last year, and has since been charged with her murder despite his claims she wanted to die.

David Hunter (left) is currently in a Cypriot jail accused of murdering his wife Janice (right) at their home near Paphos. The couple’s daughter Lesley says it was a failed suicide pact as her mother was terminally ill

Janice, who was 75, was found unresponsive while Mr Hunter, who hails from Northumberland and tried to overdose on prescription pills, survived.

He now faces spending the rest of his life behind bars, and has told his daughter, Lesley Cawthorne, that he wants to kill himself as he does not ‘know how to live without her’.  

The Mirror reports he spoke to her from jail last week, where he said: ‘I’m Janice’s husband, and without her, I don’t really know who I am.’

She is now appealing both for her father not to take his own life, and for the Cypriot authorities to drop his murder charge to one of assisting suicide, which could give him a hope of being released from prison.

Mr and Mrs Hunter, pictured here on their wedding day, had retired to Cyprus before she was diagnosed with Leukaemia

Speaking to The Mirror, the 49-year-old said her father talks to his late wife in his prison cell at night and is haunted by dreams of Janice screaming in pain from the blood cancer.  

‘The only thing he really cared about was giving his family a nice life,’ she said. 

‘Now it’s ended like this there’s a real possibility he will die alone in a foreign prison.

‘I cannot bear the thought of anyone thinking badly of my dad, because my dad really is the loveliest of men.’

Speaking to the Daily Mail last month, Mrs Cawthorne said she still supports her father despite what happened and the pair had been inseparable. 

‘He always said that from the moment he saw her, he never looked at another woman,’ she said. 

‘They laughed together, always had something to say to each other; they never left one another’s side.

‘Dad is a good man. He doesn’t deserve to die on his own in a foreign prison. He is so lonely. After 56 years with Mum, it’s like missing a limb.  

‘He is living with 12 other prisoners in a single room, sharing one lavatory. He is used to a spotless house and the levels of hygiene trouble him. It is grim.

‘He has done nothing but love Mum. He’s a true gentleman. Some people have asked: ‘How can you forgive him?’ But I just see his kindness and compassion.’

The loving daughter says her father has claimed Janice was ‘talking about it (ending her life) daily’.  

Lesley (pictured) said she hasn’t started grieving for her mother yet because she has to keep going for her dad 

‘To begin with, he tried to dissuade her, then he said he would go with her,’ she said. 

‘He loved her so much. He has nightmares now when he can still hear her screaming in pain, and they had to deal with that on their own.

‘I’m horrified they were so desperate they thought that dying together was the only way out.

‘They always said they didn’t want to be a burden to me because I was their only child. Dad would say: “You don’t want to be lumbered with us.” 

‘They were both very proud. So they hid from me how terrified they were and it breaks my heart that I didn’t know they were in such despair.’

The tragic events came to light when Mr Hunter rang his little brother in the UK after Janice’s death to say he had taken an overdose of pills, and asking him to ‘look after Lesley’. 

His brother contacted police in the UK, who in turn contacted Interpol and they helped arrange an emergency response in Cyprus. 

The former colliery worker was rushed to hospital in Paphos, where he spent four days in intensive care before being transferred to a psychiatric hospital.

‘He was saying he wanted to die and I would beg him to stay alive for me,’ Mrs Cawthorne said. 

‘Each day I spoke to him, he seemed to come out of the fog a bit more and kept telling me how much he loved me.

‘Dad told me Mum had been in constant, agonising pain in the weeks before her death. 

David Hunter claims Janice had been in ‘constant, agonising pain’ in the weeks before her death.

‘She had continual diarrhoea and Dad would make nappies out of towels and lift her into the shower to wash her. She was mortified. She felt she’d lost all her dignity. She only had paracetamol and that didn’t touch the sides of her pain.

‘The last week of her life was terrible. She had horrendous nose bleeds, her sight was going, she couldn’t eat or drink and though exhausted she couldn’t sleep. 

‘Dad couldn’t get her upstairs to bed so they lay in reclining chairs downstairs. All night he held her hand.’

After her father told his story, he was charged with his wife’s murder and moved to prison, where he has remained since, not even being let out to attend Janice’s funeral.

His daughter just wants him to come home where he can be supported by his family. 

She is being helped by Justice Abroad, a UK-based organisation that is appealing for the charges against her father to be changed from murder to assisting suicide. 

Unless her legal team can persuade the island’s Attorney General to commute the charge, David, who pleaded not guilty to murder when he appeared at a preliminary court hearing earlier this month, will face a mandatory life sentence when his case is heard this month.

Speaking to the Daily Mail Michael Polak, director of Justice Abroad, said: ‘David is a model prisoner, however at this stage in his life he needs to be with his family in the UK, not in jail abroad. 

‘So we are concentrating on getting the charge reduced to assisting suicide so he can serve a shorter sentence at home.’

If you have been affected by this story, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit

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