Dubai court urged to show mercy to Francis Matthew as it is the Year of Tolerance

The former Gulf News editor killed his wife, Jane, after a row at their Dubai home in June, 2017

Francis Matthew admitted killing his wife after a row at their Dubai home in July, 2017
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A defence lawyer acting for a former newspaper editor convicted of killing his wife at their Dubai home urged a court to show him mercy, in line with the country's Year of Tolerance.

Francis Matthew, the ex-Gulf News editor, appeared before Dubai Court of Appeal on Wednesday as his legal counsel called for his jail term to be cut to two years.

In March last year, Matthew was sentenced to 10 years in jail after being convicted of physical assault that led to the death of his wife, Jane.

His prison term was later increased to 15 years when Dubai Court of Appeal convicted him of premeditated murder.

Dubai Court of Cassation – the emirate's highest judicial body – then overturned the journalist's sentence in December and ordered that his case be reviewed by another panel of judges.

At the latest appeal court hearing, Ali Al Shamsi, representing Matthew, said: “The case file contains proof that my client never intended to kill his wife and that he had a stable relationship with her.  Even her father was going to drop charges but he died before doing that.

“We are in the Year of Tolerance, your honour. This man lost his wife, his job and has been suffering as a result of this case. I plead that we take mercy on him.”

It was on July 4, 2017, that Matthew called Dubai Police to report that his wife Jane, 62, had been killed by thieves during a break-in at their three-bedroom home while he was at work.

Police found his wife of more than 30 years dead in bed with a severe head wound.

During questioning, Matthew later admitted to killing his wife after an argument related to their dwindling finances and debts of about Dh1 million.

He said she provoked him by calling him a “loser”.

Matthew, 62, took a hammer from the kitchen, followed her to the bedroom and hit her on the head, then staged a robbery scene.

Mr Al Shamsi previously told the court that the victim had only two legal heirs – her father and son.

Her son had signed a waiver dropping criminal charges against Matthew, but Jane's father refused.

Matthew’s father-in-law died in March, meaning all private charges against him were dropped.

Two types of laws are applied to every case: private and public.

While private law – the right of the victim's legal successor against an accused – no longer applies in this case because of the death of Jane's father, public law – the right of government law against an accused – is still applicable.

Under UAE law, if the legal successors of a victim drop charges and waive their private rights, the court is still obliged to impose a penalty against the accused under public law – but it will be a shorter term.

The court adjourned the case to November 27, when a verdict is due to be passed.