DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A British newspaper editor convicted of killing his wife with a hammer had his sentence reduced by Dubai’s Court of Appeal on Wednesday.
The court ordered that former Gulf News editor Francis Matthew must serve a seven-year sentence for manslaughter in the 2017 killing of his wife, Jane.
Matthew had received as much as a 15-year sentence for the killing. A series of appeals has seen his sentence change and his case go before Dubai’s Court of Appeal.
Matthew’s lawyer Ali al-Shamsi had previously asked the court to reduce his client’s sentence to two years in prison, saying evidence proves the crime was not premeditated and Matthew had no previous intent to kill.
On Wednesday, the court changed Matthew’s charge to manslaughter but reduced the sentence to seven years rather than two, followed by deportation. Such charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years under UAE law.
The UAE has a reputation for having stringent sentencing procedures, with people serving hefty sentences and fines for financial or non-violent crimes, raising concerns by relatives about Matthew’s sentence.
Jane’s brother, Peter Manning, accused Dubai’s laws of being “male-biased” and said his sister’s voice was never going to be heard.
“Dubai judges clearly preferred to defend Francis’s pride rather than Jane’s life,” Manning told The Associated Press after Wednesday’s sentencing.
Matthew’s son previously dropped charges against him, and his wife’s father — Jane’s only other next-of-kin — died earlier this year. According to law in the United Arab Emirates, a sentence can be reduced if a victim’s next of kin waives their right to press charges.
Matthew and his wife of 30 years were prominent members of the United Arab Emirates’ large British expatriate community.
Dubai police were called to the Matthews’ three-bedroom villa in Dubai’s Jumeirah neighborhood 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 say 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 like nothing had happened, throwing the hammer in a nearby trash can, police said.