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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Former Gulf News editor appeals 10-year jail sentence for wife killing as her family protest at 'deeply unfair' decision

The family of Jane Matthew, who was killed after being hit over the head with a hammer twice, issued a statement saying they were upset by the move

Former Gulf News editor-at-large, Francis Matthew, pictured at the Dubai Press Club in 2009, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing his wife. Amy Leang / The National
Former Gulf News editor-at-large, Francis Matthew, pictured at the Dubai Press Club in 2009, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing his wife. Amy Leang / The National

Former newspaper editor Francis Matthew has appealed a 10-year prison sentence handed to him by a Dubai court for killing his wife by hitting her in the head with a hammer.

The 61-year-old was convicted on March 25 after the court changed the initial charge of murder to 'physical assault leading to death'.

He is now seeking a more lenient sentence, though a date for the hearing has yet to be set.

In a previous hearing, his lawyer, Ali Al Shamsi, told Judge Fahd Al Shamsi that Matthew had a moment of "temporary insanity".

The family of his wife, Jane, told The National they were "very upset" that the former editor-at-large of Gulf News appealed the verdict that the family described as "deeply unfair".

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Read more:

Former Gulf News editor Francis Matthew jailed 10 years for killing wife in Dubai

Francis Matthew trial: Dubai court told of editor's blood-soaked bedroom and facts that didn't add up

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On Tuesday, Peter Manning, Jane's brother, issued a statement on behalf of the family saying they want Dubai Court of Appeal to overturn the original verdict in a bid for a harsher sentence.

They said the sentence - which was widely debated as being too lenient by residents on social media - seemed to imply that Jane's death was unintentional when Matthew's actions appeared to indicate intention to kill.

The full statement read:

"Jane’s family is very upset that Francis Matthew has appealed to further reduce his sentence after he killed Jane with a hammer.

"We want the court of appeal to overturn the original verdict. Women in particular should be deeply worried. This verdict says that, just by having a common domestic argument with her husband, Jane was responsible for provoking her own death.

"The court’s finding is also deeply unfair to Jane because, while Matthew has apparently had his defence of provocation considered by the court, he has at the same time benefitted from having ensured Jane couldn’t defend herself against his claims."

He went on to say that the family remains convinced that the court was unduly lenient.

Mr Manning said: "The court also seems to be saying that Jane’s death was unintentional. But of all the items that Matthew could have picked up during the alleged argument, he chose a hammer. And by his own description, he collected the hammer in the kitchen and carried it down two corridors of the house to the bedroom. Why would he do that?

"It is also not believable that Matthew, who is over 6 feet tall, did not think he would kill Jane if he gave her two very hard blows to the face with the hammer.

"We have a copy of the forensic report which says that the wound on Jane’s face was very large, being stated as being “9cm x 10cm”.

"The forensic report also finds that Jane had significant bruising, saying that “the injuries were around the mouth and inside the lips as if to prevent any attempt of yelling.

"Matthew made no attempt to call an ambulance after he killed Jane, instead he calmly went to work for a whole day and staged a cover-up in the evening."

On July 4, Dubai Police said they were called to Matthew's home in Jumeirah at 5.45pm where they found his 62-year-old wife of more than 30 years dead in bed with a severe head wound.

Police said Matthew initially claimed Jane had been assaulted by robbers who had broken into their three-bedroom home and killed her while he was at work between 8am and 5pm.

Matthew later admitted to police that his wife had grown angry with him after he told her they needed to move to a smaller home because they were in debt.

He told police his wife provoked him, calling him a "loser" and saying it was his responsibility to provide them with money.

Matthew said his wife also pushed him so he got a hammer from the kitchen, followed her to the bedroom and hit her twice on the head while she was laying in bed.

A forensic expert told the court that bruises around her mouth and upper lip indicated that she was forcefully silenced while on the bed.

Records show that the next morning, Matthew tried to make the house look like it had been robbed before leaving for work, throwing the hammer, which he put in a plastic bag, in a nearby rubbish bin.

The court heard the testimonies of six people — four Emirati police officers, a Sri Lankan gardener and an Egyptian forensic expert. It also listened to good character testimonies from Matthew’s son, brother and sister.

Jane Matthew was killed by her husband on July 3, 2017. Courtesy Peter Manning, her brother
Jane Matthew was killed by her husband on July 3, 2017. Courtesy Peter Manning, her brother