Mark Cavendish tells the court how a masked gunman held a knife to his face

Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish described in court how a balaclava-wearing intruder put a knife to his face before the raiders took two high-value watches belonging to him and his wife.

Masked men broke into Cavendish’s home while he was sleeping upstairs with his wife Peta on November 27, 2021, Chelmsford Crown Court heard.

Prosecutors say they stole items including two Richard Mille watches worth £400,000 and £300,000.

Romario Henry, 31, of Bell Green, Lewisham, south-east London, and Oludeva Okorsobo, 28, of Flaxman Road, Camberwell, south London, deny two allegations of robbery.

They are accused of robbing Cavendish of his watch, telephone and safe, and robbing the athlete’s wife of his watch, telephone and suitcase.

Cavendish, testifying in court, said he was awakened by the sound of voices and that his wife, Peta Cavendish, had gone to investigate.

Mark Cavendish's court case

Court artist’s sketch of Peta Cavendish giving evidence, observed by Judge David Turner, at Chelmsford Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

“I got up to follow her (from the bedroom) and as I was leaving the room she started walking back (up the stairs),” he said, wearing a blue sweater and a white collared shirt.

“She yelled ‘get in’.

“Behind her were figures really close.”

He said he tried to set off a panic alarm but failed in the dark and the intruder jumped on him and proceeded to punch him in the head.

“One was holding me and the other pulled out a knife and just put it to my face,” Cavendish said.

“It wasn’t the knife you have in the kitchen.

“It was black and had holes in it.

“It was a weapon.”

Mark Cavendish's robbery lawsuit

Surveillance image taken from Mark Cavendish’s property showing two suspects on Mr. Cavendish’s property (CPS/PA)

Peta Cavendish, giving evidence in court, said she “heard a noise that woke me up” in the night and went downstairs to investigate, adding that she was “naked” at the time.

Cavendish told the court he was naked when the intruders broke in.

“When I went down a few steps I heard men talking but it was still dark,” said Mrs Cavendish, who was wearing a black sweater and jacket and had her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail.

She said she saw “figures of men wearing balaclavas and running towards the bottom of the stairs.”

“I know there were three to five, I know there were more than a couple, but I wouldn’t be able to say exactly how many (there were people there),” Ms Cavendish said.

When asked by prosecutor Edward Renvoize how she felt when she saw the men in balaclavas, she told the jury: “It was everyone’s worst nightmare.”

Court case regarding Mark Cavendish's raid

Watch stolen from home of Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish (Essex Police/PA)

She said she ran up the stairs “as fast as she could and I yelled something like ‘come back’ or ‘come in’ to Mark.”

She said one of the intruders “pulled” Cavendish “off his feet and started beating him.”

“One of the men held him in handcuffs at the time,” she said.

“One of them held a large black knife to his throat and said ‘where are the watches’ and ‘do you want me to stab you?’

She agreed with Mr. Renvoize that it looked like a Rambo knife.

“They were very specific about the watch,” she said.

“I tried to explain that we had actually been broken into a few years earlier, everything had been taken.”

Ms Cavendish said her husband showed the intruders where the safe was.

“It had a PIN for the battery, nothing in it, it wasn’t being used, so the battery was dead,” she said.

“It just got crazier because they weren’t getting what they wanted.

“They kept saying: there must be cash, there must be jewelry.”

She said her husband had been “out of the hospital for maybe four days” at the time after the bicycle accident left him with three broken ribs and a tear in his left lung.

She said she took the phone, which fell from the nightstand into an open drawer, but was spotted by one of the intruders.

“The man on the landing, who I wasn’t aware of, was shouting ‘she’s got her phone, she’s got her phone,'” she said.

“One of the people said ‘give me the phone, have you called the police’.

She said she threw the phone at the end of the bed.

She said the intruders took Richard Mille’s £400,000 watch, which “Mark raced”, which had a blue strap and was on a windowsill.

“It wasn’t picked up at first, but they took it in,” she said.

She said they also took her £300,000 Richard Mille watch which was on her bedside table.

She said they turned the bedroom “upside down” and when they left, Cavendish set off a panic alarm to alert the private security company and the police.

Court case regarding Mark Cavendish's raid

Watch stolen from Cavendish family home (Essex Police/PA)

Cavendish told the jurors that he is an ambassador for the Richard Mille watch brand and sometimes lends him watches to wear.

Mr Renvoize said there was a photo of Cavendish at the GQ Awards with a Richard Mille watch he had borrowed, and it was not one of two that were taken that were “partially covered” by his sleeve.

Mr Renvoize said there would “probably be red carpet photographers” at the event, and Cavendish replied: “That’s right.”

When asked if his stolen watch was a one-off, Cavendish replied that it was “one of four or five at the time, not publicly available.”

Ms Cavendish, when asked about her stolen watch, said there was “only one”, adding: “It was made for me”.

Cavendish said both watches were “delivered as part of being an ambassador”.

Ms Cavendish said when she went downstairs she saw the patio door had been smashed and Cavendish had cut his foot on the broken glass.

She said the intruders did not take her engagement ring, wedding ring or necklace, although the intruders said “show me your wrists as if I were wearing a watch”.

Ms Cavendish said the intruders were wearing “dark clothing, possibly tracksuits and gloves”.

“Definitely one of them that had a knife, the one that took my phone, was definitely black,” she said.

“Definitely one of them was definitely white.

“I think the other one was white

“I think the person on the landing was black.”

She agreed with Shahid Rashid of Okorosobo that the situation was “hectic” and “crazy”.

Ali Sesay, 28, of Holding Street, Rainham, Kent, pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery at an earlier trial, and the trial had previously been told his DNA had been found on Peta Cavendish’s phone, which was taken and found outside the property.

Two more men, Jo Jobson and George Goddard, have been named as suspects in the case but have not been arrested by police.

The process continues.

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