DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A British former newspaper editor in Dubai convicted of killing his wife with a hammer had his prison sentence extended to 15 years Sunday after an appeals court upgraded his manslaughter conviction to premeditated murder.
The Dubai Court of Appeals' ruling added another five years onto the prison sentence of former Gulf News editor Francis Matthew, who initially was found guilty in March of bludgeoning his wife to death at their home and received a 10-year sentence.
Both Matthew's lawyer and prosecutors had appealed the initial sentence. Matthew's lawyer, Ali al-Shamsi, told The Associated Press that he will appeal Sunday's verdict to the Court of Cassation, the highest judicial body in the skyscraper-studded sheikhdom in the United Arab Emirates. He did not elaborate.
Peter Manning, Jane Matthew's brother, welcomed the ruling, saying the lesser sentence would have been a "terrible injustice."
"Jane is very much missed by our family and all her many friends and the previous low sentence was very upsetting for all of us," Manning said in a statement.
Matthew had faced the possibility of the death penalty over the July 2017 killing of Jane Matthew, his wife of over 30 years. Matthew and his wife were prominent members of the UAE's large British expatriate community.
Dubai police say they were called to Matthew's three-bedroom villa in Dubai's Jumeirah neighborhood on July 4, where they found his wife dead. The editor told them 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. Matthew said he got angry when his wife called him a "loser" and told him "you should provide financially," according to police.
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.
Matthew was originally charged with premediated murder when he was arrested. The court later downgraded it to manslaughter — a charge which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison in the UAE.
The Gulf News previously has 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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