Mark Cavendish robbery accused ‘had loaned his phone to someone else’

A former delivery driver accused of playing a part in a robbery of Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish has told a court that he had loaned his phone to a man who has admitted the offence.

Prosecutors said balaclava-wearing intruders broke into Cavendish’s home in Ongar, Essex, as he was asleep upstairs with his wife Peta with their three-year-old child also in the bed.

Two Richard Mille watches, valued at £400,000 and £300,000, were among the items taken in the knifepoint raid at around 2.30am on November 27 2021.

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.

Mark Cavendish robbery court case
Romario Henry and Oludewa Okorosobo at Chelmsford Crown Court (Liz Cook/PA)

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

Giving evidence, Okorosobo said he had loaned his phone to 28-year-old Ali Sesay in the early hours of November 27.

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

Okorosobo said Sesay, who lived at the same address as him in Croydon at the time, was with him and Henry in a Mercedes car being driven by a man who he referred to only as “Steve”.

He said he was introduced to Steve by Sesay, and that Steve was white English.

Okorosobo said Steve dropped him off at his mother’s address in Camberwell so he could be with his younger brother, who had suffered a seizure, while his mother was at work.

Mark Cavendish robbery court case
A CCTV image showing two suspects on Mr Cavendish’s property (CPS/PA)

“Mr Sesay said the memory on his phone was full and he didn’t have a navigation app on his phone,” he said.

“The reason why he (Sesay) asked to borrow my phone was to get his son. For the navigation system on my phone.”

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

Okorosobo told jurors that calls from his phone to Jobson’s at around 12.40am on November 27, while the phone was located in the area of his mother’s address, were to discuss cryptocurrency.

The defendant’s barrister, Shahid Rashid, said: “We know over the next few hours your phone was pinging off cell masts in the Ongar area (of Essex).”

Mark Cavendish robbery court case
A watch stolen from the home of Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish (Essex Police/PA)

Okorosobo said he was not there, adding: “At no point was I present at the Cavendish premises.”

He said he had his phone “back in my hand” by around 4.40am.

Mr Rashid told the court there were two calls from Okorosobo’s then-girlfriend, and Okorosobo said he did not answer the first call as the phone was not with him but that he answered the second call minutes later at 4.36am.

“Ali Sesay had knocked on my door as the phone was ringing,” said Okorosobo. “He said she had called earlier and he told her to ring back.”

He said that in the car, as he went to get a lift back to Croydon, were Henry, Sesay, Sesay’s “five-year-old son” and Steve.

He said he did not know anything about events at Cavendish’s home at around 2.30am.

Mark Cavendish robbery court case
Prosecutor Edward Renvoize questioning Mark Cavendish at Chelmsford Crown Court (Liz Cook/PA)

Okorosobo added that he “did ask (Sesay) why he had taken so long – he said he made a brief trip to get something prior to getting his son”.

Archangelo Power, for Henry, suggested to Okorosobo that the Mercedes had an inbuilt navigation system, and asked if he thought it “strange” that Sesay was asking to borrow his phone.

Okorosobo said that the car’s navigation system “needed a PIN” and Steve “didn’t have it”.

He 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.