British News Editor Convicted Of Killing Wife With Hammer In Dubai Could Walk Free

A judge in December ordered a retrial for 63-year-old Francis Matthew after his lawyers appealed against the conviction.
Francis Matthew could see his 15-year sentence reduced or he could even walk free
Francis Matthew could see his 15-year sentence reduced or he could even walk free
HuffPost UK

A British former newspaper editor in Dubai who was convicted of killing his wife with a hammer may see his 15-year sentence significantly reduced and could even be freed from prison altogether.

A hearing in the case of Francis Matthew, sentenced for bludgeoning his wife Jane to death at their home in 2017, was adjourned on Wednesday after he did not appear in court.

No reason for his absence was given and Matthew’s lawyer, Ali al-Shamsi, declined to comment.

The next court date was set for October 23.

A judge in December ordered a retrial for the 63-year-old after his lawyers appealed against the conviction.

According to UAE law, a sentence can be reduced if a victim’s next of kin waive their right to press charges, but to no less than seven years for premeditated murder as is Matthew’s case.

However, a judge can reduce the sentence even further for various reasons, including a suspect’s age.

The couple’s only son previously dropped the charges against Matthew, and Jane’s father – her only other next of kin – has since died.

The charges against Matthew have been a point of contention between the defence and the prosecution.

A premeditated murder charge can carry the death penalty and has a minimum sentence of 10 years, while a manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Matthew, whose lawyers had unsuccessfully argued temporary insanity, was first sentenced to 10 years last year for manslaughter, which was challenged.

Charges against him were then changed to premeditated murder in the Court of Appeal and his sentence was increased to 15 years.

Then the emirate’s top review court, Dubai’s Court of Cassation, overturned the 15-year sentence and ordered a retrial.

<strong>Jane was Matthew's wife of 30 years</strong>
Jane was Matthew's wife of 30 years
HuffPost UK

Matthew and his wife of 30 years were prominent members of the UAE’s large British expatriate community.

Dubai police said they were called to the pair’s three-bedroom villa in Dubai’s Jumeirah neighbourhood on July 4 2017, where they found Jane dead.

Matthew told the police that robbers had broken into the home and killed her.

During a later interrogation, however, police said Matthew told them his wife had grown angry with him because they were in debt and needed to move, and that he got angry when she called him a “loser” and told him “you should provide financially”.

Matthew told police his wife pushed him during the argument.

He then got a hammer, followed her into the bedroom and struck her twice in the head, killing her, according to a police report.

The next morning, Matthew tried to make it look like the house had been robbed and later went to work as if nothing had happened, throwing the hammer in a nearby rubbish bin, police said.

The Gulf News has previously said Matthew served as its editor from 1995-2005 and then became an editor-at-large at the newspaper.

He was still with the newspaper at the time of the killing, though the Gulf News now refers to him as a former employee.

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