Rolex robbers claim their first murder victim

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A millionaire's wife who had her £13,000 watch wrenched from her wrist by a gunman after being shot in the back has died in hospital - making her the first murder victim of the "Rolex Robbers".

A millionaire's wife who had her £13,000 watch wrenched from her wrist by a gunman after being shot in the back has died in hospital - making her the first murder victim of the "Rolex Robbers".

The hunt for the robbers who gunned down Josephina Martorana on her doorstep last month became a murder inquiry yesterday.

Her husband, Joe, who amassed a fortune building a chain of tyre and exhaust fitter shops, offered a £25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of her killer.

Mrs Martorana, 46, and her husband were ambushed on the driveway of their home in Hertfordshire on 28 August. Their son, Steven, 18, and his girlfriend Isabella Agnes, 19, were also shot.

It is not the first time robbers have targeted people wearing the prestige timepieces. In the past few years there have been several high-profile thefts of Rolex Watches, although this is the first time someone has been killed.

Steve Norris, when he was the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London, had his £10,000 watch stolen in June as he sat in his car in Buckhurst Hill, Essex. Anthea Turner, the television presenter, watched a robber rip a £25,000 diamond Rolex from her friend's wrist.

Other victims have included Anton Mosimann, the chef, and John Aspinall, the late millionaire zoo keeper, who was punched in the face and knocked to the ground.

Mrs Martorana and her husband had been on a shopping expedition to Harrods in Knightsbridge, London, and left for home at about 7pm on Bank Holiday Monday in Mr Martorana's dark blue 735 BMW. They arrived in the driveway of their £600,000 home in Yewlands, near Hoddesdon, about an hour later.

As they got out of their car, two black men approached and snatched Mr Martorana's £13,000 watch from his wrist. While the robbers struggled with the tycoon, Mrs Martorana tried to dash into the house to raise the alarm, but she was shot once in the back by a handgun and fell to the ground. The gunman snatched her £13,000 watch.

When they heard the gunfire, Steven and Isabella rushed to the front door and were both shot by the gunmen. Steven was hit in the chest and Isabella in the stomach. They were taken to hospital in critical condition, but were released last week. The couple's other two children, Sabrina, 21, and Vincent, 23, were out at the time.

Mr Martorana chased the robbers as they sped away in a stolen silver Vauxhall Vectra. He rammed the car with his BMW after pursuing them for half a mile, but they escaped.

Afterwards, Italian-born Mr Martorana described his ordeal as a "callous shooting motivated by a vicious robbery of my wife's and my Rolex watches". After the shooting he kept a vigil at his wife's bedside.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Woods, who is leading the investigation, called Operation Knight, said: "We are all shocked and saddened by the death of Josephina. We had high hopes she would make a recovery.

"I hope that someone will come forward as a result of this substantial reward being offered. Call wills be treated in the strictest confidence," Det Ch Insp Woods said.

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