By Gavin Gibbon
Francis Matthew was convicted last year of killing his wife in their Dubai home
The defence lawyer acting on behalf of former Gulf News editor Francis Matthew, who was convicted of killing his wife in Dubai, has used the UAE’s Year of Tolerance as a mitigating factor for his jail sentence to be cut.
At the Dubai Court of Appeal on Wednesday, Ali Al Shamsi, representing Matthew, called for the jail term to be reduced to two years.
Matthew was sentenced to 10 years in jail in March last year after being convicted of physical assault that led to the death of his wife, Jane.
His prison term was later increased to 15 years after the Dubai Court of Appeal found him guilty of premediated murder, rejecting a previous appeal to have his sentence reduced because of temporary insanity triggered by “emotional stress”.
However, Dubai Court of Cassation - the emirate’s highest judicial body - overturned his sentence in December and ordered that his case be reviewed by another panel of judges.
Al Shamsi is quoted in The National as saying: “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.”
Matthew had originally told police that their home was broken into by robbers, who killed his wife. At a later interrogation, he confessed that the couple had a heated argument over finances.
He also claimed his wife pushed him and called him a “loser”, after which he followed her into the bedroom and struck her twice on her head with a hammer, according to a police report.
In June, Al Shamsi informed the judge that Jane Matthew had only two legal heirs. One, the couple’s son, signed a waiver dropping criminal charges.
The other – Jane Matthew’s father – refused to drop the charges, but died in March 2019.
With the dead of the accused’s father in law, all private charges against him were dropped, as the right of the victims’ legal successor no longer applies as per UAE law.
Public law, which is the right of the government, still applies.
Under UAE law, however, if the legal successors of a victim waive their right to private law, the court can still impose a penalty under public law, although prison terms are shorter in length in such cases.
The minimum sentence for murder in the UAE is 10 years in jail.
The case was adjourned until November 27 when a verdict is expected.