A British newspaper executive who confessed to killing his wife with a hammer during a fight in their home in Dubai, is facing the death penalty.
Francis Matthew, 61, had initially claimed his 62-year-old wife Jane had been attacked by burglars, but later admitted to have caused her death during an argument over their financial worries.
Matthew, editor-at-large of English language newspaper Gulf News, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to a premeditated murder charge.
Francis Matthew, left, editor-at-large of the Gulf News in Dubai, ‘admitted killing his wife Jane (right) with a hammer’, according to police in Dubai
On July 4, Dubai police said they were called to Matthew’s three-bedroom villa in Dubai’s Jumeirah neighborhood.
There, they say they found his wife of over 30 years dead and the editor told them robbers broke 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.
Mrs Matthew was described as a ‘lovely woman’ who was ‘always polite and friendly’
Dubai police said in a statement Matthew, pictured, initially claimed his wife was ‘attacked by burglars’
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 tip, police said
Matthew wore white prison-style clothes to a brief hearing in a Dubai courtroom on Wednesday.
He looked thin and sombre while entering his plea, saying: ‘Not guilty.’
Matthew, pictured, and his wife married in 1985 and have a son called John, who is believed to have travelled to Dubai yesterday to see his father
After the hearing, Matthew’s lawyer Ali al-Shamsi said they are looking to get a minimum sentence for his client.
‘There is a mistake in the autopsy report,’ Mr al-Shamsi said, without elaborating.
News of the killing shocked staff at the influential English-language daily newspaper, where Matthew has worked for 22 years.
The couple were well-known members of Dubai’s large British expat community.
Matthew was a part of the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club while his London-born wife taught at an English language school.
They had lived in the country for 30 years and were based in Jumeirah, a wealthy suburb on the coast.
They married in Chippenham, Wiltshire, in 1985.
It is understood their son John travelled to Dubai to try to visit his father in custody at Bur Dubai Police Station yesterday.
Nirmala Janssen, who helped launch a newspaper called Xpress with Matthew three years ago, told the Mail: ‘Francis was amazingly devoted to his family, especially his son who recently left university.
‘He was over the moon for him. They were going to go off and see him graduate this week.
‘They were an extremely devoted couple… I have no idea what happened. Everybody is speculating.
‘Jane was a lovely woman. She was always nice, always very polite, and friendly. And Francis is a man who is loved by everybody.’
The couple had lived in Dubai, pictured, for 30 years and Matthew has worked for the English language paper for 22 years
Abdul Hamid Ahmed, the editor-in-chief of the Gulf News, said: ‘We are shocked and saddened at this tragedy. Francis was editor of the paper from 1995 to 2005.
‘He is a well-respected journalist, known for his keen insight into the Middle East.
‘Both Francis and Jane have played a very active role in the British expatriate community over the past 30 years.’
Former Gulf News reporter Abhishek Bhaya said: ‘On those rare days when he was in the newsroom, he always came across as a likeable and very humble person.
‘It came as a total shock to hear that he’s being suspected of his wife’s death. It is unbelievable.’
Matthew was educated at £38,000-a-year Winchester College in Hampshire.
He wrote on professional networking website LinkedIn: ‘I majored in sciences with biology, chemistry and maths A-levels, supported by a fourth A-level in history of art that woke me up to the wider world of the mind.’
He graduated from Exeter University in 1979 with a degree in Arabic and Islamic studies and worked at The Economist before travelling to the Gulf in 1990.