Cyclist Mark Cavendish tells court home intruders held knife to his face | UK news

The Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish described in court how a knife was held to his face before masked intruders took two high-value watches belonging to him and his wife from their home.

The masked men broke in as Cavendish was asleep upstairs with his wife, Peta, on 27 November 2021, Chelmsford crown court heard.

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

Romario Henry, 31, of Lewisham, south-east London, and 28-year-old Oludewa Okorosobo, of Camberwell, south London, both deny two counts of robbery.

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

Cavendish, giving evidence in court, said he woke to the sound of voices and that his wife went to investigate.

“I got up to follow her out [of the bedroom] and as I was stepping out of the room is when she started to come back up [the stairs],” he said.

“She shouted ‘get in’.

“There were figures really close behind her.”

He said he had tried to press a panic alarm but did not manage to do so in the dark, and was jumped on by an intruder who started to punch him in the head.

“One held me and another pulled out a knife and just held it in my face,” said Cavendish.

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

“It was black and had holes in it. It was a weapon.”

Peta Cavendish, giving evidence in court, said she “heard a noise that woke me” 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”.

“I know there were between three and five, I know there were more than a couple but I wouldn’t have been able to say exactly how many [people there were],” she said.

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

She said she ran up the stairs “as quickly as I could and I shouted something like ‘get back’ or ‘get in’ to Mark”.

She said that one of the intruders “dragged” her husband “from his feet and started punching him”.

“One of the men then had him in a headlock,” she said.

“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 Renvoize that it appeared to be a Rambo-style knife.

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

She said that her husband had been “out of hospital for four days maybe” at the time after a cycling crash which left him with three broken ribs and a tear to his left lung.

She said she picked up her phone, but was spotted by one of the intruders.

“The man on the landing that I wasn’t aware of shouted, ‘She’s got her phone, she’s got her phone,’” she said.

“One of the individuals said, ‘Give me the phone, did you call the police?’”

She said she threw her phone to the end of the bed.

She said the intruders took a £400,000 Richard Mille watch that “Mark raced in” and which had been on a windowsill.

She said they also took her £300,000 Richard Mille watch that had been on her bedside table.

She said the intruders turned the bedroom “upside down” and that when they left, Cavendish pressed a panic alarm to alert a private security firm and the police.

Cavendish told jurors he was a brand ambassador for Richard Mille watches and was sometimes loaned timepieces to wear.

Renvoize said there was a photograph of Cavendish at the GQ awards wearing a Richard Mille watch that he had been loaned, but it was not one of the two that were taken.

Renvoize said there “probably would have been red carpet photographers” at the event, and Cavendish replied: “Correct.”

Peta said when she went downstairs she saw that a patio door was smashed, and that Cavendish cut his feet on the smashed glass.

Ali Sesay, 28, of Rainham, Kent, admitted two counts of robbery at an earlier hearing and the trial was previously told that his DNA was found on Peta’s phone, which was taken and later found outside the property.

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

The trial continues.

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