Dubai: A defence witness told a panel of judges on Sunday that a British editor in Dubai, serving a 10-year prison term for killing his wife, wasn’t aware of his actions at the time of the murder, as he was suffering from “temporary insanity”.

In March, the Dubai Court of First Instance jailed British journalist 62-year-old Francis Matthew, for 10 years after modifying the premeditated killing charge to beating which led to death.

Matthew, a former Gulf News staff member, was found guilty of hitting his 63-year-old wife with a hammer twice on the forehead, after a heated argument over financial issues at the couple’s villa in Umm Suqeim in July 2017.

On Sunday, Matthew’s lawyer Ali Abdullah Al Shamsi presented Egyptian forensic consultant Dr Muna Al Juhary to he Dubai Court of Appeals as she had studied the forensic reports of the case.

“He was suffering from a severe pressure and emotional stress, he had a temporary insanity which means he lost all abilities to distinguish right from wrong,” argued Dr Al Juhary.

Forensic reports

By examining the forensic reports, Dr Al Juhary said that the victim wasn’t hit twice on her head but only once.

“He hit her with the side of the hammer, which explains why she sustained one severe injury and another moderate one; the severe one was caused by the side of the hammer which is heavy — and the other one was caused by the claw,” she told the judges.

During a previous hearing, Matthew had pleaded not guilty over the charge of beating leading to death.

The prosecution had charged the defendant of premeditatedly murdering his wife.

Before the primary court, Matthew pleaded not guilty and denied having had a premeditated intent to kill the victim.

He appealed his 10-year prison sentence, seeking to have his punishment reduced.

Prosecutors also went on appeal seeking a stiffer sentence.

The Court of First Instance’s bench of judges altered the premeditated murder charge to beating which led to death without having intent to kill.

The court was convinced that the July 4 incident was a crime of “assault which led to death” and that Matthew did not have a premeditated intention of killing his wife of 32 years.

Gripped by fit of 'intense outrage'

Matthew’s lawyer argued before the primary court that the accused was gripped by a sudden fit of “intense outrage” triggered by the victim’s relentless provocation, which resulted in his violent act.

“The accusation sheet lacked any form of evidence, testimony or proof that the accused had a premeditated intention to kill his wife,"  the lawyer argued in court..

"He was under severe provocation and the assault happened in just a few minutes. Her behaviour sent him into a state of distress and anger. He lost control over himself, his actions and couldn’t realise the consequences of what he did,” the defence lawyer added.

At next hearing on September 23, the court will listen to testimonies of more defence witnesses.