Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish described in court how a balaclava-wearing intruder held a knife to his face before raiders took two high-value watches belonging to him and his wife.
The masked men broke into Cavendish’s home as he was asleep upstairs with his wife Peta on November 27, 2021, Chelmsford Crown Court heard.
Prosecutors say they stole items including two Richard Mille watches valued at £400,000 and £300,000.
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 to robbing the athlete’s wife of a watch, phone and suitcase.
Cavendish, giving evidence in court, said he woke to the sound of voices and that his wife Peta Cavendish went to investigate.
“I got up to follow her out (of the bedroom) and as I was stepping out of the room is when she started to come back up (the stairs),” he said, wearing a blue jumper and white-collared shirt.
“She shouted ‘get in’.
“There were figures really close behind her.”
He said he had tried to press a panic alarm but did not manage to do so in the dark, and he was jumped on by an intruder who started to punch him in the head.
“One held me and another pulled out a knife and just held it in my face,” said Cavendish.
“It wasn’t a knife you have in a kitchen.
“It was black and had holes in it.
“It was a weapon.”
Peta Cavendish, giving evidence in court, said she “heard a noise that woke me” in the night and went downstairs to investigate, adding that she was “naked” at the time.
Cavendish told the court he was also naked when the intruders broke in.
“As I got a few steps down the stairs I could hear men speaking but it was still dark,” said Mrs Cavendish, who wore a black jumper and blazer, with her dark hair in a ponytail.
She said she could see “men’s figures in balaclavas, and they were running towards the bottom of the stairs”.
“I know there were between three and five, I know there were more than a couple but I wouldn’t have been able to say exactly how many (people there were),” Mrs Cavendish said.
Asked by prosecutor Edward Renvoize how she felt when she saw the men in balaclavas, she told jurors: “It was just everyone’s worst nightmare.”
She said she ran up the stairs “as quickly as I could and I shouted something like ‘get back’ or ‘get in’ to Mark”.
She said that one of the intruders “dragged” Cavendish “from his feet and started punching him”.
“One of the men then had him in a headlock,” she said.
“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 Mr Renvoize that it appeared to be a Rambo-style knife.
“They were very specific about a watch,” she said.
They kept saying ‘there must be cash, there must be jewellery'
“I tried to explain that actually we were broken into a couple of years previously, everything has been taken.”
Mrs Cavendish said her husband showed the intruders where the safe was.
“It had a battery-operated PIN, there was nothing in it, it wasn’t being used so the battery had gone dead,” she said.
“It was becoming more frantic as they weren’t getting what they wanted.
“They kept saying ‘there must be cash, there must be jewellery.”
She said that her husband had been “out of hospital for four days maybe” at the time following a cycling crash which left him with three broken ribs and a tear to his left lung.
She said she took her phone, which had fallen from a bedside counter into an open drawer, but was spotted by one of the intruders.
“The man on the landing that I wasn’t aware of shouted ‘she’s got her phone, she’s got her phone’,” she said.
“One of the individuals said ‘give me the phone, did you call the police’.”
She said she threw her phone to the end of the bed.
She said the intruders took a £400,000 Richard Mille watch that “Mark raced in”, that had a blue strap, and had been on a windowsill.
“At first it wasn’t picked up but they did take it,” she said.
She said they also took her £300,000 Richard Mille watch that had been on her bedside table.
She said they turned the bedroom “upside down” and that when they left, Cavendish pressed a panic alarm to alert a private security firm and the police.
Cavendish told jurors he is a brand ambassador for Richard Mille watches and is sometimes loaned timepieces to wear.
Mr Renvoize said that there is a photograph of Cavendish at the GQ Awards wearing a Richard Mille watch that he had been loaned, and is not one of the two that were taken, that was “partially covered” by his sleeve.
Mr Renvoize said there “probably would have been red carpet photographers” at the event, and Cavendish replied: “Correct.”
Asked whether his watch that was stolen was a one-off, Cavendish replied that it was “one of four or five at the time, it wasn’t available to the public”.
Mrs Cavendish, asked about her watch that was stolen, said there was “only one”, adding: “It was made for me.”
Cavendish said the two watches were “provided as part of being an ambassador”.
Mrs Cavendish said when she went downstairs she saw that a patio door was smashed, and that Cavendish cut his feet on the smashed glass.
She said the intruders did not take her engagement ring or wedding ring or a necklace, though the intruders had said “show me your wrists, as if maybe I was wearing a watch”.
Mrs Cavendish said the intruders wore “darkish clothing, tracksuits probably and gloves”.
“Definitely one of them that had the knife, one that took my phone was definitely black,” she said.
“Definitely one of them was definitely white.
“I think the other was white
“I think the person on the landing was black.”
She agreed with Shahid Rashid, for Okorosobo, that the situation was “hectic” and “frantic”.
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.
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.