Dubai court overturns 15-year jail term for Gulf News editor who killed wife

Jane Matthew's family and friends say Francis showed deadly intent when he murdered his wife with a hammer

United Arab Emirates - Dubai - Feb. 26, 2009:
Francis Matthew, Gulf News editor-at-large, gives a speech on media industry changes at the Dubai Press Club on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009. Amy Leang/The National  
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The family and friends of Jane Matthew, who was killed by her husband last year, have said they are devastated by a Dubai court’s decision to overturn his murder conviction.

Peter Manning, Jane's brother, told The National that her husband Francis, 62, clearly showed deadly intent when, after the two argued over finances, he followed her into a bedroom and hit her on the head with a hammer.

“Matthew, and all of us, can never be excused of killing someone just by claiming they ‘provoked’ us by mere words,” said Mr Manning.

“Carrying a hammer along two corridors before hitting Jane when she was lying down on the bed shows very clear and deadly intent.”

Mr Manning was speaking in response to the decision on Monday from Dubai Court of Cassation — the emirate's highest judicial body — to overturn the former Gulf New editor’s 15-year jail sentence and have his case reviewed by another panel of judges.


Read more:

Jail sentence increased for former Gulf News editor who killed his wife

Former Gulf News editor was 'temporarily insane' when he killed his wife, court hears


In March, the Briton, 62, was convicted of “physical assault leading to death” by Dubai Criminal Court, which sentenced him to 10 years in jail to be followed by deportation.

His sentence was increased to 15 years by Dubai Court of Appeal in October, when he was convicted of premeditated murder on the strength of evidence that apparently showed that Matthew had intended to kill his wife.

The reason for the retrial and the date was not disclosed but, under UAE law, once a sentence is issued by the appeals court, the Court of Cassation must review the legal procedures undertaken so far.

Should an error be found, the case is referred back to either the criminal or appeal court to be heard by a new panel of judges.

The court ordered the case be returned to the appeal court and that it should be heard by a set of judges other than those who had increased Matthew’s prison term.

On Tuesday, Mr Manning said he agreed with the appeal court’s initial decision to increase Matthew’s sentence.

“The appeal court was right to see through Matthew and it needs to press its case again," he said.

Mr Manning also questioned Matthew’s version of events, which were relayed to Dubai Police during questioning when he was arrested in July last year.

Matthew had told police that Jane, 63, had reacted to being told they would have to move house due to dwindling finances. After she insulted him, he took a hammer from the kitchen, followed her to a bedroom and hit her on the head while she was lying down.

He then set up their Umm Suqeim home to appear as though they had been robbed and went to work, only calling police upon his return to the villa that evening.

At the cassation court this week, Matthew’s lawyer, Ali Al Shamsi, argued that the former editor had no criminal intent to kill his wife but was provoked and suffered temporary insanity at the time of the killing.

He also argued that the appeal court’s ruling failed to provide justification for its decision to increase the sentence.