Cyprus: UK Man Convicted of Manslaughter, Not Murder of Terminally Ill Wife

David Hunter, 76, was convicted of manslaughter after suffocating his wife, Janice Hunter, at their property near Paphos, Cyprus, in December 2021. Hunter, originally from Northumberland, UK, said her death was assisted suicide, and his wife, who had blood cancer, had begged him to end her pain.

Cyprus: UK Man Convicted of Manslaughter, Not Murder of Terminally Ill Wife
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Facts

  • David Hunter, 76, was convicted of manslaughter after suffocating his wife, Janice Hunter, at their property near Paphos, Cyprus, in December 2021. Hunter, originally from Northumberland, UK, said her death was assisted suicide, and his wife, who had blood cancer, had begged him to end her pain.1
  • Hunter's lawyers said the verdict, which rejected the original charges of premeditated murder, would allow the court "a freer hand" when sentencing next Thursday, with his lawyer, Michael Polak, seeking a "suspended sentence" from the court.2
  • Polak also said that Hunter, who had been with his wife for more than 50 years, committed the act "out of love for Janice" and he shouldn't be "spending any further time within Nicosia prison." Hunter had been jailed throughout the entire 18-month trial.3
  • While Polak argued that extending Hunter's time in prison would serve "no proper purpose," prosecutors believe this could set a precedent for anyone to kill their spouse and later claim that it was done with the deceased's consent.4
  • Assisted suicide, also known as euthanasia, is currently illegal in Cyprus, though members of the former British colony's parliament are due to debate legalizing it as other EU states have done.2

Sources: 1BBC News, 2Guardian, 3The Telegraph, and 4FOX News.

Narratives

  • Progressive narrative, as provided by The Guardian. The evidence in favor of legalizing euthanasia is overwhelming. Besides the moral justification for putting human beings out of their terminally ill misery, so far, only the wealthy are capable of traveling to countries where it's legal, begging the question of whether governments are treating the haves better than the have-nots. If we wish to control the legal framework surrounding where assisted suicide goes too far, it would behoove elected officials to write their own nuanced laws.
  • Conservative narrative, as provided by The BMJ. The slippery slope of euthanasia is very real and very dangerous. Many of the patients involved in this debate are cognitively impaired and unable to fully understand what they're getting themselves into. Most importantly, this will give doctors, who often make wrong diagnoses, way too much power and legal protection after taking someone's life. We already have the medicine to eliminate patients' pain in these scenarios, so why not use it while keeping them alive?