The daughter of a British man accused of murdering his terminally ill wife in Cyprus fears he will die before facing trial after the case was delayed by more than three months.
David Hunter was due to stand trial today over the death of his wife Janice, 75, at their flat on the island last December.
Mrs Hunter, who had terminal blood cancer, was allegedly suffocated by her husband who then tried to end his own life by taking an overdose but survived.
Mr Hunter says his wife had “made her wishes clear” and “wanted it to end” because she did not want a “long, protracted death”, according to their daughter.
The retired miner, originally from Northumberland, appeared at Paphos District Court on Thursday but was told his murder trial had been postponed until 19 September.
The couple’s daughter, who had urged judges to show “compassion” towards her father, told Sky News she felt “extreme disappointment” over the delay and was “blisteringly angry”.
Lesley Cawthorne said: “My father is an elderly man and he’s not well and that is an incredibly long delay.
“It will be nine months since my mum died so they will have held my father – who is not a risk to anyone – in prison for nine months.”
Mrs Cawthorne, who was unable to travel to Cyprus for the trial because of her health, said the reasons behind the delay included another case was overrunning and a “summer break” for the judges.
“I hope they enjoy their summer break because our family won’t be enjoying ours,” she said.
“I think justice is more important than a holiday.
“In all honesty, I’m worried my 75-year-old father with a history of stroke will die before we get to trial – that’s what worries me.”
Mrs Cawthorne, who lives in Norwich, said her father “seemed in quite good spirits” before the hearing but is “crestfallen” after the postponement.
“He just wanted to know what his fate is going to be,” she said.
“It’s cruel to torture him like this. It’s just drawing out the agony for us.”
She added: “We had a good chat yesterday – my dad and I – and he’d really got himself mentally prepared.
“He wanted the trial to go ahead today. He wanted to be able to share his story.
“He wanted people to understand what my mum had gone through. He really wanted that opportunity to tell my mum’s story.
“He built himself up for it and that opportunity’s gone now. It’s incredibly disappointing.”
Mrs Cawthorne said she now expected the trial to continue into next year after the hearing in September.
Her parents, who had been together for 56 years and were teenage sweethearts, had moved to Cyprus 20 years ago after their retirement.
In her later life, Mrs Hunter had been left in severe pain by a catalogue of health issues and her quality of life was “non-existent” in her final weeks, her daughter said.
After Mr Hunter was charged with his wife’s murder, his lawyers wrote to the Cypriot attorney general to ask for the charge to be reduced to assisting suicide, but the request was refused.
Michael Polak, a barrister and the director of Justice Abroad, which is supporting Mr Hunter, said defence lawyers will urge the judges at his trial to clear him of murder.
He told Sky News: “It is quite clear to anyone who looks at the case that this is not a case where murder is the most appropriate charge.
“We don’t think David deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison in Cyprus. He’s a good man. He was with his wife for a very long time, they had a loving relationship for over 50 years.
“No one – even people in Cyprus I’ve spoken to – thinks he deserves to be on trial for murder.”