Francis Matthew found guilty by Dubai court on Sunday morning
Former Gulf News editor Francis Matthew jailed 10 years for killing wife in Dubai
A British newspaper editor who killed his wife with a hammer in their Dubai home has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, prompting the victim's family to argue that "justice has not yet been done".
Francis Matthew, 61, was not on hand on Sunday when the verdict came down at Dubai Criminal Court. He will be deported after serving his sentence.
The accused’s lawyer, Ali Al Shamsi, told The National that the court changed the initial charge of murder against Matthew following an investigation.
Matthew had faced the death penalty but was convicted of physical assault leading to death after his lawyer argued for a change in charge.
In a previous hearing, Mr Al Shamsi told Judge Fahd Al Shamsi that Matthew had a moment of "temporary insanity".
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 his wife, 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.
During questioning, 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.
Matthew said his wife provoked him, calling him a "loser" and saying it was his responsibility to provide them with money.
He told police his wife pushed him so he got a hammer from the kitchen, followed his wife 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 silenced forcefully 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.
Peter Manning, Jane Matthew's brother, was in court for the verdict and later issued a statement on their behalf of the family expressing their disappointment and hope that the sentence would be changed on appeal.
The statement read:
"We attended the Dubai Courts today, and our family has been saddened by the sentence given to Francis Matthew, Jane’s killer.
We believe the facts clearly demonstrate that this crime was a deliberate act. In the defendant’s own version of events, he collected the murder weapon, a hammer, in the kitchen and carried it down two corridors of the house to the bedroom. There was time for him to consider his actions; instead he delivered two hammer blows to the front of Jane’s head. He made no attempt to call an ambulance afterwards.
We also know, contrary to the defence’s argument, that Jane had been aware for months that the villa was due for demolition. The defendant has admitted that rows over money had occurred frequently for some time. Ongoing arguments, about money or a house, can arise in any marriage and cannot justify this killing.
Jane was a loving wife, mother, daughter, sister and aunt. Losing her in such a brutal manner has left the family both bewildered and shocked.
We feel that justice has not yet been done as we realise that the actual sentence served may be less than the 10 year sentence. We hope that this sentence is changed on appeal."
Matthew had served as the editor of Gulf News from 1995-2005 and then became an editor-at-large at the newspaper.
Matthew and his wife were prominent members of the expatriate community.