Two men have been jailed for robbing Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish and his wife Peta of watches worth £700,000 in a terrifying knifepoint raid at their home.
The intruders wearing balaclavas broke into the family home in Ongar, Essex in the early hours of November 27, 2021, as the couple were asleep upstairs.
They then threatened to stab the athlete, a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court heard.
They took items including two Richard Mille watches with a combined value of £700,000.
Romario Henry, 31, of Bell Green, Lewisham, south-east London, denied two counts of robbery but was found guilty following a trial and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Ali Sesay, 28, of Holding Street, Rainham, Kent, admitted two counts of robbery and was jailed for 12 years.
Co-defendant Oludewa Okorosobo, 28, of Flaxman Road, Camberwell, south London, denied two counts of robbery and was previously cleared by the jury.
Okorosobo, who held his head in his hands as he was found not guilty, had told jurors that he was stabbed in the leg months before the robbery.
The trial was told that 28-year-old Sesay’s DNA was found on the phone of Peta Cavendish, which was taken and found outside the property.
The charges were that the accused men robbed Cavendish of a watch, phone and safe, and robbed the athlete’s wife of a watch, phone and suitcase.
Mrs Cavendish 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 that 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.
Jurors were told that two further men, Jo Jobson, from Plaistow, east London, and George Goddard, from Loughton in Essex, have been named as suspects in the case but have not been apprehended.
Mr Cavendish and his wife said, in a statement released through police that ‘nothing can ever erase what our family went through’.
They said: ‘Reliving our family’s experience from that night in November 2021 has been an incredibly difficult experience.
‘What happened that night is something that no family should ever have to go through.
‘Although nothing can ever erase what our family went through.
‘There is now some comfort that two men who broke into our family home and stole from us, assaulted Mark and terrified our children are now convicted and will be facing what we hope will be an appropriate sentence for their actions and we hope moves some steps in preventing this horror happening to another innocent family.’
Judge David Turner KC told the defendants as he sentenced them: ‘This was planned, targeted, orchestrated, ruthless offending aimed at an internationally known sportsman and his wife who happened to be brand ambassadors for exceptionally valuable Richard Mille watches.’
Sesay also admitted to six unrelated firearms offences and was sentenced to a further eight years in prison for these, consecutive to the 12-year prison sentence for the robbery.
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