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Boston, Mass., Jul 31, 2023 / 13:49 pm (CNA).

David Hunter, a 76-year-old British man who was found not guilty of murder in the killing of his ailing wife, was released from custody July 31 after it was ruled that he served his sentence while in custody during the court proceedings. 

Hunter was given a two-year sentence on a manslaughter charge July 21 for suffocating his wife, Janice, in December 2021 at their home on the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus. 

Hunter told the court that his wife had blood cancer, which caused her great suffering and was immobilizing. He told the court that his wife was “begging” him to help her end her life, which he said he repeatedly refused to do, according to a press release from Justice Abroad, the organization that represented him.

When he finally consented to her wishes and killed her, he then attempted to kill himself by overdosing on medication, the press release said.

At the time of Janice Hunter’s death, her blood cancer was not terminal, her physician, Dr. Ourania Seimeni, said in court on May 9, which contradicted testimony given by David Hunter’s defense, according to

The court found that the killing was not premeditated murder because David Hunter acted “spontaneously,” another press release from Justice Abroad said. 

Director of Justice Abroad Michael Polak said in the release: “We are very pleased with the sentence of the court today, which means that David will be free immediately.”

“This has been a tragic case and difficult for all of those involved with it, but today’s decision was the right one and allows David and his family to grieve together,” he said.

David Hunter was in custody in Cyprus since at least February 2022 when he pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder, which carries a life sentence.

Assisted suicide is illegal in Cyprus, a human rights lawyer from the country told The Guardian. The life-ending practice is also illegal in England.

Regarding euthanasia, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect” (No. 2276).

“Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.

“Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error or judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded” (No. 2277).

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