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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 19:08 GMT 20:08 UK
Woman dies after robbery
The chip shop is yards from Mrs Watson's home
The chip shop is yards from Mrs Watson's home
A 77-year-old woman who was badly beaten by a robber as he stole her fish supper has died.

A murder inquiry is under way after the attack on Marie Watson in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The pensioner suffered a broken right shoulder and extensive bruising to her face during the attack in the Heaton area.

Detective Superintendent Derek Storey, leading the murder investigation, said: "This was an appalling unprovoked attack upon an elderly defenceless woman."

Marie Watson died 11 days after the attack
Marie Watson died 11 days after the attack

Mrs Watson's family issued a statement through police saying: "Our mother's death was undignified and she has gone before her time.

"She was as much a friend as a mother to us and she will be sorely missed by us all."

Beth Gallagher, the woman's daughter, said her mother suffered great pain after the attack, which happened 11 days ago.

She said: "We don't want anyone else to go through the agony we have and just want the scum who did this to be caught.

"She was carrying her money in her pocket and all this person got was her new shopping bag and the fish she had just bought from a nearby fish and chip shop.

"All this damage was caused for absolutely nothing."

Before she died Mrs Watson told police her attacker was less than 5ft 6ins tall and probably in his early- to mid-teens.

Bag snatched

Mrs Watson who lived in Spencer Street, Heaton, Newcastle, was walking home from the nearby Gills fish shop in Chillingham Road, with a black shopping bag containing her supper at about 1945 GMT on 4 April.

She was within yards of her home when she was pushed violently from the side, knocking her to the ground.

Mrs Watson, who police said was partially sighted and who had hearing difficulties, kept hold of her bag but it was wrenched from her grasp.

She saw a youth running off with the bag which has not been recovered.

Medical complications

Mrs Watson received hospital treatment for the severe face and body bruising, broken ribs and a fractured right arm and she went home following the attack.

Police said the great-grandmother of three died on Saturday as a result of medical complications which they attributed to the attack.

Mark McCrory, 25, said his mother Susan had seen Mrs Watson lying injured in the street and she had contacted the pensioner's relatives.

Mr McCrory said Mrs Watson, who he described as "a lovely little old lady", was short-sighted. She needed a magnifying glass to be able to identify people's faces.

The BBC's Catherine Marston
"The pensioner's injuries were severe, a broken shoulder, a broken arm and ribs"

Click here to go to Tyne
See also:

15 Apr 02 | England
Public ignore attacked pensioner
12 Apr 02 | England
Woman attacked for fried fish
15 Apr 02 | 4x4 Reports
'Why I was a mugger'
02 Jan 02 | UK
The war against muggers
18 Jan 00 | UK
Street crime surges
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