Wednesday, 8 Feb 2023

Man guilty of robbing Mark Cavendish of £700,000-worth of watches at knifepoint

A man has been found guilty of robbing Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish and his wife Peta of their high-value watches in a knifepoint raid at their home.

Intruders wearing balaclavas broke into their home in Ongar, Essex, at about 2.30am as the couple was asleep upstairs.

Mrs Cavendish said she had covered her three-year-old child, who was also in the bed, with the duvet so that they could not see what was happening.

Two Richard Mille watches, valued at £400,000 and £300,000, were among the items taken in the raid on November 27, 2021.

Romario Henry, 31, of Bell Green, Lewisham, south-east London denied two counts of robbery but was found guilty on both counts by a majority verdict of 10 jurors to two, following 14 hours and 35 minutes of deliberation.

His co-defendant Oludewa Okorosobo, 28, of Flaxman Road, Camberwell, south London, denied two counts of robbery and was cleared by the jury.

Okorosobo, who held his head in his hands as he was found not guilty, had told jurors that he was stabbed in the leg months before the robbery.

He said in a prepared statement to police in December 2021 that he was ‘unable to do any’ of the alleged offences, and that ‘any human could see I’m incapable of doing this’.

He said that he had loaned his mobile phone, which connected with cell masts in the Ongar area on the night, to a man who has admitted robbery.

Okorosobo said that he did not go to the Cavendish address and was not with his phone, but had let Ali Sesay borrow it to use a navigation app.

Henry, who showed no visible reaction as he was convicted, will be sentenced on February 7 along with Sesay, of Holding Street, Rainham, Kent, who admitted two counts of robbery at an earlier hearing.

The trial was told that 28-year-old Sesay’s DNA was found on the phone of Peta Cavendish, which was taken and found outside the property.

The charges were that the accused men robbed Cavendish of a watch, phone and safe, and robbed the athlete’s wife of a watch, phone and suitcase.

Mrs Cavendish had told jurors she had heard a noise that woke her in the night and went downstairs to investigate.

She said she could see ‘men’s figures in balaclavas, and they were running towards the bottom of the stairs’, and that she believed there were ‘between three and five’ people.

She said that she ran back to the bedroom shouting ‘get back’ or ‘get in’ to her husband, who was unable to activate a panic alarm.

She told the trial that one of the intruders ‘dragged’ Cavendish ‘from his feet and started punching him’.

One had her husband in a headlock, she said, adding: ‘One of them held a large black knife to his throat and they said ‘where’s the watches’ and ‘do you want me to stab you?’’

She agreed with a suggestion that it was a Rambo-style knife, and in his evidence Cavendish said it ‘wasn’t a knife you have in a kitchen’.

‘It was black and had holes in it, he said, adding: ‘It was a weapon.’

Mrs Cavendish said that at the time her husband had been ‘out of hospital for four days maybe’ following a cycling crash that left him with three broken ribs and a tear to his left lung.

She said that when she went downstairs after the intruders had left, she saw that a patio door was smashed, and Cavendish cut his feet on the smashed glass.

Jurors were told that two further men, Jo Jobson, from Plaistow, east London, and George Goddard, from Loughton in Essex, have been named as suspects in the case but have not been apprehended.

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