Brother of British woman killed by expat husband pleads with UAE judge for murder sentence
The family of a murdered British woman has said Dubai will set a "dangerous" precedent if it releases her husband from prison this week, two years after he bludgeoned her to death with a hammer.
Francis Matthew, 62, will fight his murder conviction on Wednesday on the grounds that his wife, Jane, provoked him during an argument at their Dubai family home. Two years into a potential 15 year sentence, his lawyers will claim she called him a “loser”, which provoked the attack.
Mrs Matthew’s family criticised the proceedings, describing Dubai's legal system as “biased” and saying the defence was trying to “blame Jane for her own death”.
“The Dubai system is truly biased against Jane,” said Peter Manning, brother of Mrs Matthew.
In a letter seen by The Telegraph and sent to Dubai’s Court of Cassation, the emirate’s highest judicial body, Mr Manning said releasing Mr Matthew early would deny his sister justice.
“To excuse this crime in some way as being Jane’s fault sends a clear message to husbands across the United Arab Emirates: you can kill your wife, even with a hammer, and all you have to do to escape justice is claim she ‘demeaned you’,” wrote Mr Manning. “This denies Jane her human right to life.”
He added, “It is very dangerous and completely opposite to the UAE’s aim of being a modern, gender equal nation.”
Mr Matthew, a former Economist journalist and editor of Gulf News, hit his wife with a hammer in the early hours of the morning in June 2017 following an argument.
Mr Matthew's original conviction of assault that led to death in March 2018 was upgraded to murder on appeal and he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The Court of Cassation overturned the conviction and a panel of judges will review the case this week.
His defence will argue that he is guilty of “physical assault that led to death”. If the court agrees, he could walk free with time served.
Mrs Matthew's family said her husband picked up a hammer in his kitchen and walked to the bedroom, where Mrs Matthew was lying in bed before attacking her with intent. After killing her, he showered and went to work as editor before staging a break-in on his return that evening.
“As Jane’s brother I am in no doubt that this was pre-meditated murder and I confirm that I wish to see Mr Matthew convicted of pre-meditated murder and jailed appropriately,” said Mr Manning. “My father and I have been frustrated with the way the Court of First Instance allowed the defence to blame Jane for her own death.”
It is not clear what impact the letter will have and Dubai is yet to acknowledge it.“If the court was open to justice they should be less willing to erect barriers to my letter,” said Mr Manning.
The Foreign Office said it is supporting Mrs Matthew’s family and is in touch with the relevant local authorities.