Mark Cavendish robbery trial told accused was in car used to travel to break-in

A man accused of robbing Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish told a court he was in a car used to travel to the break-in but insisted he was not aware of or involved in the crime.

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
Romario Henry and Oludewa 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 accepted being in a Mercedes Benz which travelled from Windsor Road, where Okorosobo was living, to Ongar in the early hours of November 27, 2021, at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Giving evidence on Monday, he insisted that though he was in the car on the night in question, he was not aware of a plan to rob the Cavendishes and was not involved in the robbery.

He had been visiting his brother’s grave earlier on the evening of November 26, where he said he drank and took drugs, the court heard.

Jurors heard that Henry’s brother, Tashawn Watt, was murdered in June 2021 in the Lewisham home they shared with their mother.

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

After visiting the grave, Henry made his way to Windsor Road before leaving there with Okorosobo, Sesay and a driver he refused to identify, it is said.

Henry claimed that Okorosobo was dropped off at his brother’s house before the car then travelled out of London.

Henry told the court that he thought he was going to Sesay’s ex-partner’s house.

He said Sesay and the driver got out of the car in Ongar but he did not know at the time where they were or what they were doing.

He added that he could not tell jurors exactly where the car was parked before his companions left.

The court heard Henry did not leave the vehicle.

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)

Asked about his physical and mental state at that point, Henry said: “I was out of it.”

Pressed during cross-examination on what he thought was happening when Sesay and the driver got out of the car, Henry said: “I was so messed up. The effect that these drugs had had on me on that day.

“I was none the wiser. I was just there. I can’t even describe to you right now … how I was even operating.”

He denied knowing about a plan to rob the Cavendish home, denied being one of the four men caught entering the property on CCTV, denied acting as a lookout, denied having been on any reconnaissance trips there and denied any intention to join in with the others to rob the Olympian’s family.

He further denied realising “at any stage at the time” that the others were intending to burgle the property.

Henry also told jurors he did not see anyone load a Louis Vuitton suitcase or dummy safe in the car, and did not see any watches nor any weapons.

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

He told the court: “People in my car wasn’t putting on balaclavas or brandishing knives.”

Henry “acknowledged” what had happened the next day, jurors heard.

Asked if he called 999 the morning after, he said: “When I acknowledged what had happened, I just didn’t even want nothing to do with it.

“I just didn’t want to know.”

Henry told jurors earlier that his 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.”

The trial continues.