Mark Cavendish and his wife ‘very distressed’ after knifepoint raid, court told

Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish appeared “very distressed” and was wearing  shorts when he opened his front door to a police officer minutes after a knifepoint raid while his children were at home, a court heard.

Balaclava-wearing intruders broke into Cavendish’s home as he was asleep upstairs with his wife Peta with their three-year-old child also in the bed, Chelmsford Crown Court was told.

The athlete was punched and a raider threatened to stab him before the gang made off with items including two Richard Mille watches, valued at £400,000 and £300,000, the prosecution said.

Romario Henry, 31, of Bell Green, Lewisham, south-east London and 28-year-old Oludewa Okorosobo, of Flaxman Road, 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.

Ali Sesay, 28, 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 the phone of Peta Cavendish, which was taken and found outside the property.

Police were called to the scene in the Ongar area of Essex at 2.35am on November 27, 2021. Pc Adem Harman was one of two officers who arrived at 2.42am.

Chelmsford Crown Court
Chelmsford Crown Court, in Essex (Chris Radburn/PA)

“Before I arrived the information the control room passed over was someone had been the victim of a burglary,” said Pc Harman, who was uniformed and in a marked car.

“Five people, armed with knives, had attended at the address, broke in and demanded property.”

He said that when he arrived the gates were closed and he could not get his police vehicle into the drive.

The officer said he went “straight to the front door” and first spoke to Cavendish, who was wearing a pair of shorts, then spoke to Mrs Cavendish.

“Briefly, she told me that she was home, she popped down to get a glass of water, turned off the alarm, went to bed without resetting it,” said Pc Harman.

“She was alerted to a noise, suspected it was her kids awaking in the night, opened the door and was confronted by several suspects.”

Asked how Cavendish and his wife seemed to him, the officer replied: “Very distressed.”

Pc Harman said, in answer to questioning by Archangelo Power, for Henry, that he “was greeted at the front door by Cavendish”.

“As far as I can recall, Mark has opened the front door, I’ve asked him if he was OK, his wife was present in the hallway of the address,” the officer said.

Pc Harman said he confirmed that the suspects had already left, and that Cavendish and his wife said that no-one was badly injured.

6 Day Cycling Photocall – Lee Valley VeloPark,
Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish (John Walton/PA)

“Both parties were very distressed so were talking and trying to convey as much information as they could,” he said.

“It was a group conversation, rather than I was solely with one person.”

Pc Harman said that Cavendish and his wife told him that suspects “rushed into their bedroom, demanded watches and other property”.

“They stated they were armed with knives, they stated that they’ve taken watches, said that those are not the right watches, where are the others,” Pc Harman said.

He agreed with Mr Power that, by the account of the couple, the intruders said “where’s the money, where’s the safe”.

Pc Harman said that “Peta Cavendish gave the bulk of the account but Mark was giving bits of information as well”.

He agreed with Mr Power that their account was that intruders told Cavendish to open a safe and punched him in the face when he did not do so.

Mr Power said part of Cavendish’s account said: “We were in bed, they came in screaming.”

Asked by Mr Power if Cavendish or his wife gave a description of the suspects, or how many of them there were, Pc Harman said: “Not that I can recall.”

Pc Harman said, under questioning by prosecutor Edward Renvoize, that “what we would be dealing with first” on arriving at the scene was “to save life and limb if there’s any threat to life”.

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.