A man has gone on trial accused of being involved in a knifepoint robbery at the home of Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish, having handed himself into police 18 months after a photo appeal.
Prosecutor Edward Renvoize said a balaclava-clad gang, armed with large knives, “threatened the couple and meted out violence to Mark Cavendish in order to make him meet their demands”.
Mr Renvoize said the intruders took two high-value Richard Mille watches, worth a total of £700,000, in the raid at around 2.30am on November 27, 2021 while the couple’s children were at home.
The barrister said that photographs of another person, Jo Jobson – who is standing trial at Chelmsford Crown Court, were issued by police by January 2022 indicating he was a suspect.
He said Jobson, 27, of no fixed address, handed himself into Chelmsford Police Station around 18 months later in June 2023.
Jobson denies two counts of robbery, which allege that he took a watch, two phones and a safe from Mark Cavendish and a watch, phone and a suitcase from Peta Cavendish.
Judge Timothy Walker told jurors: “There may have been press reports about this case both recently and in the past.
“If you have seen any of them you must ignore them.
“They play no role in assisting you in your assessment of the evidence.”
Mr Renvoize said there had been a “good deal of media interest generated by the celebrity status of the victims of the robbery”.
“It resulted in widespread dissemination of pictures of the people police wanted to speak to in relation to this incident,” he said.
“By January of 2022 photos of Jo Jobson were published in popular news outlets both in print and online indicating he was a suspect in this alleged offence and somebody to whom police wanted to speak.
“Media interest was intensified and renewed after a trial took place in relation to other defendants.
“On June 5 2023 the defendant was arrested at Chelmsford Police Station as he handed himself in.”
Mr Renvoize described the raid as a “well-orchestrated and executed, planned invasion of a home of well-known individuals with the intention of grabbing high-value timepieces”.
He said one of the intruder’s took Peta Cavendish’s mobile phone and it was later found outside their property, which he said was a “significant error in what was an otherwise carefully executed plan”.
He said DNA recovered from the phone was attributed to Ali Sesay, and police then “traced a phone attributed to Mr Sesay”.
“It was from the communications data from that telephone belonging to Mr Sesay that police were able to identify a number of other telephone numbers that appear to have been involved in the offence.”
He said one such mobile phone number “has been attributed to” Jobson, and he said the defendant will claim he “was not in control of the telephone” and that it was “owned and used by someone called Stephen Smith”.
The prosecutor read a statement from Peta Cavendish in which she said an intruder told her husband “do you want me to stab you up in front of your kid? Show me the f****** safe.”
He also read a statement from Mark Cavendish, in which the athlete described the intruders “screaming where are the watches” and “demanding to know where the safe and the money were”.
The trial, estimated to last around one week, continues.