Robbers jailed for more than a decade each over terrifying knifepoint raid on Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish at his home

7 February 2023, 11:40 | Updated: 7 February 2023, 12:19

Mark Cavendish and wife Peta were robbed by Romario Henry, right, and Ali Sesay
Mark Cavendish and wife Peta were robbed by Romario Henry, right, and Ali Sesay. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Two thieves have been jailed for more than a decade each for robbing Mark Cavendish at knifepoint at his home in a horrifying raid.

Romario Henry, 31, of Lewisham, was given 15 years and Ali Sesay, 28, of Rainham, got 12 at Chelmsford Crown Court in November 2021.

They broke into their home in Ongar, Essex, at about 2.30am on the 27th of that month, threatened to stab Cavendish and then stole two Richard Mille watches worth a combined £700,000.

Judge David Turner KC, sentencing, said: "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."

Mark Cavendish and wife Peta were robbed at home
Mark Cavendish and wife Peta were robbed at home. Picture: Alamy

Previously, the court heard how robbers threatened to "stab him up in front of his children".

Prosecutors said it was a "carefully planned robbery" which took place as the couple were in bed.

Mrs Cavendish believed her son was making noise in the house but as she went downstairs she saw a number of figures run towards her in the dark.

Read more: Man guilty of robbing Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish and wife Peta of £700,000 watches in knifepoint raid on their home

She yelled at her husband – at that point still recovering from injuries – to go back into the bedroom, but when she tried to call 999 the masked robbers grabbed her.

In her victim impact statement, Mrs Cavendish said the crooks "turned a loving family home into a constant reminder of threat and fear".

Speaking at the witness box, she said the family "could potentially sell the property due to the continuing fear", but in the economic climate this could cause "considerable loss".

Mrs Cavendish said she was "in the early stages of pregnancy" at the time.

Henry has been jailed for the robbery
Henry has been jailed for the robbery. Picture: Alamy

Mrs Cavendish said they put her husband in a headlock and put a knife to him.

"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 said.

They beat Cavendish as they told him to switch an alarm off, then forced him to open a safe to get to watches they were after. He was unable to open it as the battery apparently died.

The robbers demanded to know where "the watch" was. Cavendish gestured to the windowsill, but they said that was not the one they were after.

In the end, they left with the Richard Mille watches, one valued at £400,000 and another at £300,000. Cavendish later cut his feet on the broken glass the robbers made as they broke in.

There were two other robbers on the night.

Henry had denied two counts of robbery but was found guilty at trial. His defence lawyer, Archangelo Power, said his brother had been murdered three years prior which had a significant impact, leaving him on the verge of suicide.

Sesay previously admitted six unrelated firearms offences over the possession of two guns and ammunition, having been banned from possessing them by a previous sentence.

Officers found the loaded firearms had been thrown from a window of his Thornton Heath address, which officers had to use a chainsaw to get into.

He has previous convictions for cocaine and heroin supply in 2017. His defence lawyer, Graeme Molloy, said he was "truly sorry" and had admitted robbery.

Two other men, Jo Jobson, from east London, and George Goddard, from Loughton in Essex, have been named as suspects in the robbery but not yet found.

Jobson was 25 and Goddard was 26 at the time of a police appeal last March.

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