Wife’s 999 call played to jurors in Mark Cavendish robbery trial

Mark Cavendish and wife Peta. (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)
Mark Cavendish and wife Peta. (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

A 999 call made by the wife of Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish to police after a knifepoint raid at their home has been played in court.

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.

One of the raiders held a Rambo knife to the athlete’s throat and threatened to stab him before the gang made off with items including two Richard Mille watches, valued at £400,000 and £300,000, the trial heard.

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 of robbing the athlete’s wife of a watch, phone and Louis Vuitton suitcase from the address in Ongar, Essex, on November 27 2021.

In a 999 call lasting seven minutes and 16 seconds, played to jurors on Tuesday, Mrs Cavendish told a police call handler there had been “five men in the house – they had knives”.

In the call made at 2.35am, she said she had heard a noise downstairs, “said ‘hello’, they came rushing upstairs into the room with knives”.

“They were just shouting ‘where are the watches, where are the watches’.

Mrs Cavendish said in the call that the intruders made her husband lay on the floor and she was in bed covering her three-year-old with the duvet.

She said: “They took the dummy safe that was there.

“I think they took my suitcase, they took that – that was empty.

“They took my husband’s watch.

“I’m looking now – I think they must have taken my watch from somewhere.”

She said that before the raiders left “they held a knife and made my husband open the gate”.

She said the intruders wore balaclavas, adding: “They were all male, one of them was black.”

Mrs Cavendish said in the call that the intruders “hit Mark in the face” and “he was OK but he’d only just come out of hospital”.

“They were looking for something particular as they said ‘that’s not the watch we came for’,” she said.

It was previously suggested in court that the intruders were looking for a different watch.

During the call, Mrs Cavendish said: “My husband is a well-known athlete so they could have seen it.”

In an audio recording played to jurors, from body-worn footage from a police officer who attended the address, Cavendish says: “We were in bed and they’ve come screaming.”

An alarm can be heard in the background at the start of the recording.

Mrs Cavendish tells the officer in the recording: “The alarm wasn’t on as I forgot to put it on and I came upstairs.”

She says the intruders “started screaming ‘where are the watches, where’s the money, where’s the safe’”.

“They were saying ‘that’s not the watch we’re looking for’,” she said.

“When they had the knife to him (Cavendish) they said ‘do you want me to stab you?’”

She said they took a “dummy safe” and there was “nothing in it”.

“They were starting to panic a bit,” Mrs Cavendish said.

“They were saying ‘there must be money’. I was saying ‘there isn’t anything’.”

Referring to Cavendish’s watch which was valued at £400,000, his wife said in the recording: “Where it had an elastic strap, I think it threw them.

“It’s still a watch that they would definitely want but it wasn’t what they had in their head.”

Jurors were also played CCTV footage from outside the couple’s home on the night in question.

Detective Constable Brian Eagling said two clips showed vehicles passing the entrance to the property on the road.

He said the vehicles could not be identified due to the “inclement weather and due to the time of night”.

He added that a further clip showed four suspects walking towards the property.

A fourth clip showed a suspect vaulting the gate, from the drive to the road, before “vehicle lights illuminate from the road”, the gate opens and two suspects walk through carrying items.

“That footage appears to be the male with the safe, then he’s joined by a second male that appears due to the size of the object in the hands to be a piece of Louis Vuitton luggage,” said Mr Eagling.

A fifth clip showed a police car with its blue lights on arrive at the address.

Shahid Rashid, for Okorosobo, said the “whole thing seemed to last no more than three minutes or so”.

Mr Eagling replied: “I don’t envision them hanging around for long.”

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 Mrs Cavendish’s phone, which was taken and found outside the property.

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

The trial continues.