Man denies planning robbery of Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish, court told

A man has denied planning the robbery of Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish at a party he attended with his co-accused days before the incident, a court heard.

Balaclava-clad intruders broke into Cavendish’s home in Ongar, Essex, on November 27, 2021, while he was asleep upstairs with his wife Peta, with their three-year-old child also in the bed, prosecutors said.

Mrs Cavendish said that one of the raiders held a Rambo-style knife to her husband’s throat and threatened to stab him before the gang made off.

Two Richard Mille watches, valued at £400,000 and £300,000, were among the items taken in the knifepoint break in at about 2.30am.

Romario Henry, 31, of Bell Green, Lewisham, south-east London, and Oludewa Okorosobo, 28, of Flaxman Road, Camberwell, south London, deny two counts of robbery.

They are accused of robbing Cavendish of a watch, phone and safe and his wife of a watch, phone and Louis Vuitton suitcase.

Romario Henry (left) and Oludewa Okorosobo
Henry and Okorosobo deny two counts of robbery. (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Ali Sesay, 28, of Holding Street, Rainham, Kent, admitted two counts of robbery at an earlier hearing and the trial was told his DNA was found on the phone of Mrs Cavendish after it was dropped outside the home.

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

Henry denied planning the robbery with Sesay and Okorosobo at a party they attended in Manchester, between November 16 and 18, 2021.

Giving evidence on Monday, he replied to the suggestion: “I say that is not true.”

Henry told jurors that he “went along” to Manchester because he wanted to see his mother’s brother, Benny, and that he “didn’t really want to be socialising with anyone” at the time.

The court heard Henry had travelled up to Manchester in a car with Sesay, Okorosobo and a “driver” who he referred to as “A” and who he said he was unwilling to describe.

He also denied planning the robbery of Cavendish’s home during a series of phone calls between him and Jobson on October 11, 2021.

Mark Cavendish leaves Chelmsford Crown Court
Mark Cavendish leaves Chelmsford Crown Court, Essex. (Joe Giddens/PA)

The trip to Manchester came months after Henry’s brother, Tashawn Watt, was murdered in June 2021 in the Lewisham home they shared with their mother.

Henry said: “Tashawn was murdered in our home. He was stabbed.”

Jurors heard an individual was convicted of the murder and sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Henry attended secondary school with Sesay and was in the same football club as Okorosobo in his teens, it is said.

The court heard he grew closer with both Sesay and Okorosobo after his brother died. They both attended Tashawn’s funeral in September 2021.

He described Sesay as a “good friend”.

Henry told the court that his mother, Denise Campbell, would “blame” him for his brother death “out of anger” because he had been in Jamaica at the time.

After Tashawn’s death, it is said that Ms Campbell’s “addiction” to drugs and alcohol “became worse”.

Henry lived with her until October 2021, and said her drinking “had spiralled out of control”.

Mark Cavendish robbery court case
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of prosecutor Edward Renvoize questioning Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish at Chelmsford Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

She also had a “crack addiction”, the court heard.

Ms Campbell died in May 2022 at the age of 51 of a cardiac arrest, Henry told jurors.

Henry said his own mental wellbeing deteriorated after his brother was killed.

“I started to drink…a lot of alcohol. I started to consume drugs,” he told the court.

He added that he would drink Hennessy “from morning until night” and started to take small amounts of cocaine before his drug consumption “escalated” to taking crack, cannabis, Xanax and promethazine.

Henry said: “At the time these were the only things that was crippling my pain.”

He later added the the bond he shared with his brother was “incredibly strong”.

Mark Cavendish robbery court case
One of the watches stolen (Essex Police/PA)

Henry was raised by his late grandmother, who was part of the Windrush Generation, until she returned to Jamaica when he was around 16, jurors heard.

He said he left school around the same time and started to live with his mother.

Henry also told the court he had two sisters and another brother and that he had “very minimal” dealings with his biological father.

He was arrested on December 18 2021.

Okorosobo previously told the court he was stabbed in the leg in September 2021, and he still had his left leg in a brace and his left arm in a sling as he gave his evidence.

In a prepared statement to police at the time of his arrest in December 2021, Okorosobo said he was “unable to do any” of the alleged offences, and that “any human could see I’m incapable of doing this”.

The trial continues.