Herald Express (Torbay, Brixham & South Hams Edition)

Murder accused tried to swim away to avoid arrest


A FATHER and his two sons have been jailed for a combined 36 years after they brutally murdered a man to steal his two Rolex watches.

Lee O’Brien, 51, and his sons Luke, 36, and Lewis, 31, ambushed Darren Smith outside a shopping precinct in broad daylight on March 15 last year.

The 51-year-old victim had just visited a phone shop to purchase a new mobile phone case when he was attacked by the trio in Shard End, Birmingham.

He was repeatedly punched, kicked and struck with a wrench in a 77-second onslaught as terrified families watched on outside the Heath Way shops. The three men then stole two Rolex watches from the victim’s wrist, threatened shop staff and fled independen­tly in their cars.

Mr Smith managed to stagger out of the shop before collapsing nearby, where bystanders provided first aid until emergency services arrived.

Paramedics attempted to save his life but Mr Smith was pronounced dead at the scene due to severe head injuries. He had also suffered a heart attack.

The three culprits were arrested the next day after fleeing to Torquay in an attempt to escape justice – but were located in the car they were using.

A court was told that when police approached the two brothers Luke attempted to escape by diving into the sea “in a bid to swim away”.

He struggled in the water and had to be rescued by officers before all three were taken into custody.

The father and his sons admitted to manslaught­er charges and received their sentences at Birmingham Crown Court on April 5.

Lee O’Brien was jailed for 11 years and eight months, while his sons were each sentenced to 12-and-a-half years of imprisonme­nt.

In his sentencing remarks, Judge Melbourne Inman KC noted: “The entire incident was captured on CCTV. On that day Mr Smith went in the afternoon to a phone shop in a square in Shard End.

“He was wearing two very expensive Rolex Yacht-Master watches on his wrists.

“You knew he had the watches on him and you knew where he was that afternoon. The three of you intended to rob him of those watches.”

Mark Heywood KC, prosecutin­g, told the court Mr Smith had been planning on giving the watches to his brother the day he was attacked.

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