Former Gulf News editor was 'temporarily insane' when he killed his wife, court hears
Former newspaper editor Francis Matthew was suffering from temporary insanity triggered by "emotional stress" when he killed his wife in their Dubai home, a forensic expert said.
Dubai Court of Appeal heard that Matthew, 62, was not aware of his actions when he hit his wife, Jane, 62, with a hammer on the head after the couple argued about money.
“Due to severe pressure and emotional stress he suffered from temporary insanity, which means that his logic and mental abilities were shut down and he lost all ability to distinguish right from wrong,” Dr Muna Al Juhary said.
Presented to the court by Matthew’s lawyer, Ali Al Shamsi, Dr Al Juhary said forensic reports also revealed that the defendant only hit his wife on the head with a hammer once, not twice as was reported.
The blow appeared to show two injuries because both ends of the hammer made contact with the victim’s head.
“The cheek [flat side] of the hammer was used to hit the victim, which explains why she sustained one severe injury and another moderate one. The severe one was caused by the hammer’s bell, which is heavy, and the other caused by the claw,” Dr Al Juhary said before demonstrating the action to the court using the judge’s gavel.
Dubai Police were called to Matthew's home in Jumeirah at 5.45pm on July 4 last year, where they found his wife of more than 30 years dead in bed with a head wound.
The British defendant initially claimed Jane had been assaulted by robbers who had broken into their three-bedroom home between 8am and 5pm and killed her while he was at work.
He later admitted killing his wife after an argument about his wish to move to a smaller home because they were in debt.
He said he was provoked by her calling him a "loser" and saying it was his responsibility to provide them with money, and pushing him.
Matthew said he took a hammer from the kitchen, followed her to the bedroom and hit her on the head while she was lying in bed.
The next morning, Matthew tried to make the house look like it had been robbed before leaving for work, throwing the hammer, which he put in a plastic bag, in a bin.
Police’s forensic report said that bruises around her mouth and upper lip indicated that she was forcefully silenced while on the bed.
The former editor of Gulf News was convicted on March 25 after Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance changed the initial charge of murder to "physical assault leading to death", but he appealed, seeking a more lenient sentence.
Jane’s family told The National that they believed the sentence was "deeply unfair”. In a statement, Peter Manning, Jane's brother, and the family called on Dubai Court of Appeal to overturn the original verdict in a bid for a harsher sentence, saying “justice has not yet been done”.
The next hearing is scheduled for September 23 when the court will hear testimonies from more witnesses.