Ashley Cole speaks of ‘terror and confusion’ of home robbery as thug is jailed for 30 years

Former England footballer Ashley Cole has said the ‘terror and confusion’ on his children’s faces when a gang of men smashed their way into his home, tied him up and threatened to cut off his fingers ‘will never leave me’. 

Kurtis Dilks, 35, was jailed at Nottingham Crown Court today for 30 years for his part in the attack.

Judge James Sampson praised the ‘courage and resilience’ of Cole and his partner Sharon Canu, as well as all the other victims of the gang.

In an impact statement read to the court, Cole described how he has invested hugely on security at his home in Fetcham, Surrey, to the point that it makes it ‘feel like a fortress’, but he said he still cannot go out to the bin without a torch and his guard dog. 

Branding Dilks ‘chillingly ruthless’, the judge told Dilkes: ‘The psychological impact on Mr Cole and Ms Canu, as with all of your victims, cannot be overstated.’

The judge told Nottingham Crown Court the attack on the footballer’s home was ‘extremely terrifying’ and described the gang as ‘intelligent, violent and chillingly ruthless men’.

As well as the attack on Cole, Dilks was found guilty of conspiring to rob the wife of former Tottenham, Hull and Derby midfielder Tom Huddlestone in May 2019 with fellow defendants Ashley Cumberpatch and Andrew MacDonald.

The trio were also convicted of being part of the theft of a £3.5 million tiara worn to the coronation of Edward VII from the Harley Gallery on the Welbeck Estate in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, in 2018.

A thug who smashed his way into Ashley Cole's home and threatened to cut off his fingers has been jailed for 30 years. Kurtis Dilks, 35, was jailed at Nottingham Crown Court today, with a five-year extended licence period

A thug who smashed his way into Ashley Cole’s home and threatened to cut off his fingers has been jailed for 30 years. Kurtis Dilks, 35, was jailed at Nottingham Crown Court today, with a five-year extended licence period 

The ex-Arsenal and Chelsea defender was at home with his partner Sharon Canu (pictured together)

The ex-Arsenal and Chelsea defender was at home with his partner Sharon Canu (pictured together)

Cole is seen with his partner Ms Canu and children Jaxon and Grace at a screening of Paw Patrol: The Movie, in August last year

Cole is seen with his partner Ms Canu and children Jaxon and Grace at a screening of Paw Patrol: The Movie, in August last year 

In a statement that was read out by a prosecutor earlier on Friday, Cole said: ‘The picture of that night remains and impacts everything.

‘The terror and confusion on my children’s face is something that will never leave me.

‘These images and thoughts will never, ever leave my mind and can pop up any time.’

Dilks was the only one of the gang responsible for the robbery to be caught

Dilks was the only one of the gang responsible for the robbery to be caught

Cole’s partner Ms Canu was in court on Friday to hear her statement also read by prosecutor Michael Brady QC.

She described in her document how the raid has had a ‘huge impact’ on her life, recalling how she tried to hide in a wardrobe with her son as her husband was tied up and her daughter pleaded for comfort.

Ms Canu said: ‘That will never leave me.’

She said that despite the dogs, panic alarms and fences that have been installed in their property, she still does not feel safe.

Ms Canu said they had considered moving but ‘the truth is that the feelings and the fear would be there no matter where the house was’.

Dilks’s trial heard how Cole told police he thought ‘now I am going to die’ as he recalled how the masked raiders tied his hands behind his back despite him holding his young daughter.

Dilks was the only one of the gang responsible for the robbery to be caught after his DNA was recovered on the cable ties used to restrain Cole and Ms Canu.

Cole was not in court on Friday. 

Mr Cole was watching Netflix when the raiders smashed into his house, binding his hands as he held his young daughter.

The gang threatened to cut off his fingers with electrician’s pliers before police suddenly arrived and they fled.

The thugs dragged him downstairs and made him think they were going throw acid on his face or burn him alive, a court previously heard.

In an interview previously played in court, Mr Cole sobbed as he said: ‘I was on my knees, waiting to either be killed… I’ll never see my kids again.

The Portland Tiara  

The Portland Tiara was a diamond-encrusted gold and silver tiara that was made in 1902. 

William Cavendish-Bentinck, the 6th Duke of Portland commissioned jewellery firm Cartier to create the tiara for his wife Winifred, Duchess of Portland. 

She went on to wear it to the coronation of King Edward VII. 

The Duchess of Portland was one of the women who held a canopy over Edward’s wife Queen Alexandra during the anointing ceremony.

After the ceremony, some of the tiara’s gems were removed to make a brooch. 

The brooch was also stolen in the November 2018 raid. 

After the robbery, the tiara was broken up. 

‘The aggressive guy was shouting. ‘You are f****** lying to me, I am gonna do you’.

‘He kept saying, ‘Let me cut his hands. Let me cut his fingers. Give me his fingers’.’ 

The 41-year-old added that he feared he would be ‘set alight or murdered’ in front of children Grace and Jaxon, and partner Sharon Canu.

Cole said he thought he was ‘going to die’ as he helplessly watched the gang run across his lawn, adding: ‘I have kids in the house, I have no help, it is just us now.’

CCTV footage showed Cole then being led downstairs by the men – who demanded to know where his ‘cleaning products’ were.

He told detectives: ‘I am thinking they are gonna put bleach on my face or burn me or set me alight.’

But bizarrely, one of the gang members sprayed Febreze, an odour eliminator, over his hands in an apparent bid to destroy DNA evidence, before moving him back upstairs – where Ms Canu ‘begged’ the men to leave.

Finally, the family’s nightmare ended when police arrived and rang the home’s entry buzzer – causing the raiders to ‘literally run off’.

They fled with five designer watches, a BMW smart key, headphones, a Gucci handbag, and mobile telephones – with Cole saying: ‘I was happy they hadn’t touched my kids. It was like a film.’

Dilks, Cumberpatch and MacDonald stole the Portland Tiara in November 2018 in a heist that was caught on CCTV. The famous tiara has never been seen since.

The 6th Duke of Portland commissioned Cartier to create the tiara for his wife Winifred, Duchess of Portland. She went on to wear it to the coronation of King Edward VII.

Former England footballer Mr Cole earlier said the 'terror and confusion' on his children's faces when the gang of men smashed their way into his home, tied him up and then issued their gruesome threat 'will never leave me'. The former defender is pictured at a training session at Everton FC's Finch Farm in Halewood, England, earlier this week

Former England footballer Mr Cole earlier said the ‘terror and confusion’ on his children’s faces when the gang of men smashed their way into his home, tied him up and then issued their gruesome threat ‘will never leave me’. The former defender is pictured at a training session at Everton FC’s Finch Farm in Halewood, England, earlier this week

Wearing an orange and black patterned shirt and a mask, Dilks sat in the glass-fronted dock with five other defendants, staring straight forward as he listened to the impact statements.

Cumberpatch and MacDonald were also convicted alongside jewellers Tevfik Guccuk and Sercan Evsin, and co-defendant Christopher Yorke, of converting criminal property following the theft.

Prosecutor Michael Brady QC told jurors the items stolen during the tiara burglary were passed to professional handlers Guccuk and Evsin, who were tasked with selling them.

The court heard it is thought the tiara and brooch were taken out of the country by Guccuk to his native Turkey after they were dropped off at an ‘ostensibly legitimate jewellery business’, Paris Jewels, in Hatton Garden, London, in November 2018.

The Portland Tiara, was stolen using specialist diamond cutter tools from the Welbeck Estate in November 2018

The Portland Tiara, was stolen using specialist diamond cutter tools from the Welbeck Estate in November 2018

The Cartier-designed tiara was worn by Winifred Cavendish-Bentinck, Duchess of Portland (1863-1954) at the 1902 coronation of King Edward VII

The Cartier-designed tiara was worn by Winifred Cavendish-Bentinck, Duchess of Portland (1863-1954) at the 1902 coronation of King Edward VII

Guccuk, who had papers to confirm he was a trader, told jurors his trip to Istanbul was for a rescheduled wedding and that he travels to the city regularly for business.

It is understood his flight was from London Heathrow Airport, and that the 41-year-old would have taken the items in his hand luggage.

Speaking of how the items would have been disposed of in his opening to the jury, Mr Brady said: ‘Those responsible for this part of what was highly sophisticated criminal offending, Evsin and Guccuk, operated an ostensibly legitimate jewellery business in Hatton Garden.

‘Such was the value and conspicuous nature of some of the items stolen that it was not possible to sell them in the UK.

‘The inference to be drawn from the evidence is that at times the property had to be disposed of abroad.’

Police rumbled the gang after detectives connected Go-Pro footage of the Harley Gallery, seized from Cumberpatch’s home in October 2017, with the theft. 

During the 10-week trial, the prosecution was able to prove the footage demonstrated a reconnaissance attempt by the 37-year-old ‘in plain sight’.

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