Robber convicted of £700k raid on cyclist Mark Cavendish and Peta at home in Essex
A man has been convicted of robbing the Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish and his wife Peta at knifepoint in a terrifying night-time raid.
Prosecutors said balaclava-wearing intruders broke into Cavendish’s home in Ongar, Essex, as he was asleep upstairs with his wife – with their three-year-old child also in the bed.
During the raid, a Rambo-style hunting knife was held to the sportsman's throat, the court heard.
Two Richard Mille watches, valued at £400,000 and £300,000, were among the items taken in the raid at around 2.30am on 27 November 2021.
Romario Henry, 31, of Bell Green, Lewisham, south-east London, was convicted of two counts of robbery.
He was found guilty on both counts by a majority verdict of 10 jurors to two following 14 hours and 35 minutes of deliberation at Chelmsford Crown Court.
Oludewa Okorosobo, 28, of Flaxman Road, Camberwell, south London, was found not guilty on the same charges.
Henry will sentenced at the same court on 7 February.
In a statement after the verdicts, Mark and Peta Cavendish said reliving the robbery in court had been "an incredibly difficult experience" but they had taken "some comfort" from the conviction of the two men.
The two men on trial had been 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.
Ali Sesay, 28, of Holding Street, Rainham, Kent, admitted two counts of robbery at an earlier hearing, and the court was told that his DNA was found at the scene.
Two other men, Jo Jobson, from Plaistow, east London, and George Goddard, from Loughton in Essex, have been named as suspects but not apprehended.
During the trial, Henry admitted that he had been in a Mercedes which travelled to the family's home in south Essex, but claimed he was so "out of it on drugs" he was not aware of or involved in the crime.
He said he had been visiting his murdered brother's grave earlier on the evening of 26 November, where he said he drank and took drugs.
Okorosobo, who held his head in his hands as he was found not guilty, had told jurors that he was stabbed in the leg on 16 September 2021, months before the robbery.
He said in a prepared statement to police in December 2021 that he was “unable to do any” of the alleged offences, and that “any human could see I’m incapable of doing this”.
He said that he had loaned his mobile phone, which connected with cell masts in the Ongar area on the night to Sesay.
Okorosobo said that he did not go to the Cavendish address and was not with his phone, but had let Sesay borrow it to use a navigation app.
Mrs Cavendish, who like her husband was naked during the robbery, had told jurors she had heard a noise that woke her in the night and went downstairs to investigate.
She said she could see “men’s figures in balaclavas, and they were running towards the bottom of the stairs”, and that she believed there were “between three and five” people.
She said that she ran back to the bedroom shouting “get back” or “get in” to her husband, who was unable to activate a panic alarm.
She told the trial that one of the intruders “dragged” Cavendish “from his feet and started punching him”.
One had her husband in a headlock, she said, adding: “One of them held a large black knife to his throat and they said ‘where’s the watches’ and ‘do you want me to stab you?’”
She agreed with a suggestion that it was a Rambo-style knife, and in his evidence Cavendish said it “wasn’t a knife you have in a kitchen”.
“It was black and had holes in it, he said, adding: “It was a weapon.”
Mrs Cavendish said that at the time her husband had been “out of hospital for four days maybe” following a cycling crash which left him with three broken ribs and a tear to his left lung.
She said that when she went downstairs after the intruders had left, she saw that a patio door was smashed, and Cavendish cut his feet on the smashed glass.
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