Birmingham magistrates court
Birmingham Magistrates Court.

Rolex rippers epidemic turns deadly

Three men have pleaded guilty to manslaughter after beating a man to death in Birmingham before stealing two Rolex watches.

Rolex watches are being targeted by casual and organised criminals because of the ease with which they can be sold for cash, leading to a dramatic rise in thefts from homes and people on the streets.

Almost 80,000 luxury watches valued at over £1 billion are currently recorded as lost or stolen by the Watch Register.

These are not victimless crimes, with Rolex owners simply shrugging and calling their insurance companies.

They are often terrifyingly violent, and this week we learn that one theft in Birmingham even ended in death.

The victim, Darren Smith, was ambushed on March 15 by three men, Lee O’Brien and his two sons Luke and Lewis in the Shard End neighbourhood in eastern Birmingham.

Mr Smith was kicked, punched and struck multiple times with a wrench, according to witnesses.

Two Rolex watches were stolen.

Despite paramedics and the public trying to save his life, Mr Smith died of his injuries at the scene of the attack.

The three perpetrators have pleaded guilty to manslaughter at Birmingham Crown Court this week, and will be sentenced later.

They are expected to be jailed for several years.

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