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Cyprus murder trial Briton says sick wife begged him to help her die

PAPHOS, Cyprus (Reuters) - A British pensioner on trial for murder over the death of his terminally ill wife told a Cyprus court on Monday she had repeatedly begged him to end her torment and help her die.

David Hunter, 75, is accused of killing his wife of 56 years, Janice, who suffered from terminal blood cancer, in 2021. His lawyers contend it was assisted suicide. He has pleaded not guilty.

Cyprus does not have laws permitting assisted dying, and very few facilities offer palliative care.

Hunter, a retired miner, said his wife's illness saw her quality of life deteriorate markedly in the last three to four years before her death, with her days spent only at a hospital or at home.

"I felt so helpless," he told the court.

He said that five or six weeks before her death she asked him to help her, with the calls becoming more frequent and urgent in the final days.

"She would cry and begged me. She said 'I'm sick of my life'," Hunter told the three-bench criminal court in the western town of Paphos.

Hunter said he eventually agreed after his wife 'became hysterical', though said he would only in order to calm her down and had never planned to go through with it.

"I was hoping something would change, a small miracle," he said.

Janice died after Hunter placed his hands over her nose and mouth at their home in Dec. 2021. She made no effort to stop him, he said. He then attempted to take his own life with pills and alcohol.

Earlier witnesses said the couple had a loving relationship.

"I loved her," he said.

Hunter could face up to life in prison if convicted.

(Writing By Michele Kambas; Editing by Angus MacSwan)