Dubai Courts
The man facade of the Dubai Courts Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News Archive

Dubai: The sentence of a Dubai-based British journalist who murdered his wife has been reduced to seven years, a Dubai court heard on Wednesday.

Francis Matthew, a former Gulf News employee, was originally sentenced to 10 years in March 2018 for the July 2017 murder but that was increased to 15 years in jail last October on appeal.

Dubai’s Court of Appeal has now reduced the sentence to seven years to be followed by deportation after serving his jail term.

Earlier last month, his defence lawyer Ali Al Shamsi, had requested leniency and wanted the sentence reduced to two years for assault that led to death, not murder, as the defendant has shown remorse.

“We proved that there was a good relationship between my client and his wife as he bought (flight) tickets for them to attend their son’s graduation in the UK. There is no criminal intention on his part in the case and he regrets what he did. We are in the year of tolerance,” Al Shamsi had earlier told the judge in court last month.

Under UAE law, the family of the victim has the right not to grant leniency. However, Matthew’s son had already waived his rights and the victim’s father was the only remaining person who could have objected to an early release, but he has since passed away.

“His son waived his private rights and the victim’s father intended to waive his rights but he passed away,” said Al Shamsi. “My client is suffering psychologically with what happened and seeks leniency,” the defence lawyer added.

In March 2018, a lower court sentenced Mathew to 10 years in jail for premeditated murder, following an assault that led to the death of his wife at the couple’s villa in Umm Suqeim.

In October 2018, the Dubai Appeal Court overturned the 10-year imprisonment against Mathew, and increased his punishment to 15 years in jail.

Later in December 2018, Dubai’s highest court overturned the British editor’s 15-year sentence and ordered a fresh trial at Appeal Court.

However, the verdict will be a subject to Cassation Court again within 30 days.

Lawyer Ali Al Shamsi, told Gulf News that he will wait until the reasons behind the verdict are released before deciding on whether or not to appeal the verdict in the Cassation Court.

“We were expecting the punishment to be even less than seven years as we presented a strong defence explaining the circumstances in the case. We also presented a waiver from the victim’s family. We expected the jail term to be reduced to two or three years,” said Al Shamsi.