Court changes conviction from physical assault to premeditated murder
Jail sentence increased for former Gulf News editor who killed his wife
The former Gulf News editor Francis Matthew has had his jail sentence increased to 15 years after Dubai Court of Appeal convicted him of premeditated murder.
Matthew, 62, who killed his wife by hitting her on the head with a hammer, was in March found guilty of “physical assault leading to death” by Dubai Criminal Court.
But on Sunday, the higher court rejected his appeal for a reduced sentence due of temporary insanity triggered by “emotional stress” and changed his conviction while increasing his prison term by five years.
The court said evidence showed that the Briton had intended to kill his wife, following a row about their finances.
Matthew’s lawyer, Ali Al Shamsi, had requested the 10-year sentence be reduced and the deportation order be lifted, insisting that his client did not intend to kill his wife.
An Egyptian forensic expert, Dr Muna Al Juhary, attempted to substantiate this request, saying Matthew was not aware of his actions at the time of the murder.
“The accused lawyer’s claim of the incident being an assault that lead to death is overlooked by the court as it is merely an argument,” the verdict read.
On Sunday, Mrs Matthew's ’s brother, Peter Manning, told The National that the family now felt that they could move on from the ordeal.
“We are pleased that the Dubai court has taken account of the actual evidence rather that the hearsay and found that Jane was a victim of a premeditated murder," he said.
"The increase in Matthew’s sentence is welcome. Jane is very much missed by our family and all her many friends and the previous low sentence was very upsetting for all of us.”
The Court of Cessation will now review the legal procedures undertaken by both courts. Should an error be found, the case will be reffered back to either the criminal or appeal court to be heard by a new panel of judges.
On July 4, last year, at 5.45pm, Matthew reported that thieves had broken into their three-bedroom home in Dubai and killed his wife while he was at work between 8am and 5pm. His wife of more than 30 years was found dead in bed with a severe head wound.
During questioning, Matthew admitted to killing Jane after they argued about being in debt and said she provoked him by calling him a “loser”.
He got a hammer from the kitchen, followed her to the bedroom and hit her on the head while she was lying in bed. He then emptied household property on to the floor to make it appear as if there had been a robbery, and disposed of the hammer on his way to work.
Matthew had served as the editor of Gulf News from 1995 to 2005 and then became an editor-at-large at the newspaper.
He and his wife were prominent members of the expatriate community.