Robber guilty of tying Ashley Cole and his girlfriend up and threatening to cut his fingers off

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A man who was part of a four-strong gang who smashed into the home of former England footballer Ashley Cole with a sledgehammer and threatened to cut his fingers off has been convicted.

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Kurtis Dilks, 35, was found guilty at Nottingham Crown Court today for tying Mr. Cole and his girlfriend up with cable ties at knifepoint at his £3 million mansion in Fetcham, Surrey.

The newspaper courier, from Clifton, Nottingham, faces three charges of conspiracy to commit burglary, four charges of converting criminal property, three charges of conspiracy to commit robbery and two counts of robbery.

He denied all charges – but will now face jail, the court heard.

Footballer Ashley Cole's home was raided by the gang who threatened to cut off his fingers.  The defender is pictured at Everton Training Session at Finch Farm in Halewood, England, earlier this week

Footballer Ashley Cole's home was raided by the gang who threatened to cut off his fingers.  The defender is pictured at Everton Training Session at Finch Farm in Halewood, England, earlier this week

Footballer Ashley Cole’s home was raided by the gang who threatened to cut off his fingers. The defender is pictured at Everton Training Session at Finch Farm in Halewood, England, earlier this week

Kurtis Dilks, 35, (pictured) was found guilty at Nottingham Crown Court today for tying Mr Cole and his girlfriend up with cable ties at knifepoint at his mansion in Surrey

Kurtis Dilks, 35, (pictured) was found guilty at Nottingham Crown Court today for tying Mr Cole and his girlfriend up with cable ties at knifepoint at his mansion in Surrey

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Kurtis Dilks, 35, (pictured) was found guilty at Nottingham Crown Court today for tying Mr Cole and his girlfriend up with cable ties at knifepoint at his mansion in Surrey

Ashley Cole presenting on Channel 4 during the UEFA Nations League League A Group 3 match between England and Hungary at Molineux on June 14, 2022

Ashley Cole presenting on Channel 4 during the UEFA Nations League League A Group 3 match between England and Hungary at Molineux on June 14, 2022

Ashley Cole presenting on Channel 4 during the UEFA Nations League League A Group 3 match between England and Hungary at Molineux on June 14, 2022

The ex-Arsenal, Chelsea and Derby defender Cole told police he ‘knew 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 in January 2020.

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

The gang threatened to cut off his fingers with electricians pliers when the police suddenly arrived and they fled.

They had prepared him for the ordeal by dragging him downstairs and making him think they were going to throw acid on his face or burn him alive, a court previously heard.

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)

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

Former England footballer Ashley Cole told police 'I knew now, I am going to die' as masked raiders smashed into his home and tied his hands while he was holding his young daughter, a court previously heard

Former England footballer Ashley Cole told police 'I knew now, I am going to die' as masked raiders smashed into his home and tied his hands while he was holding his young daughter, a court previously heard

Former England footballer Ashley Cole told police ‘I knew now, I am going to die’ as masked raiders smashed into his home and tied his hands while he was holding his young daughter, a court previously heard

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

‘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 raid on Cole’s luxury property was particularly shocking – with the 41-year-old telling the police how he feared he would be ‘set alight or murdered’ in front of his children Grace and Jaxon, and partner Sharon Canu.

In a video interview Cole gave to detectives that was played to the jury, he described how six men wearing camouflage clothing and balaclavas burst into his home late at night as he started to watch a movie with Ms. Canu in their bedroom.

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’s 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 odor 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 the 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 phones – with Cole saying: ‘I was happy they hadn’t touched my kids. It was like a movie.’

Nottingham Crown Court heard how Kurtis 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 his partner Sharon Canu.

The 35-year-old courier claimed his DNA was found on the cable ties and a knife recovered from the scene in Fetcham, Surrey, because they were items previously stolen from his van.

Dilks was convicted alongside five others for their roles in a string of ‘ruthlessly executed’ robberies and burglaries between October 2018 and January 2020.

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

The heists targeted the houses of ‘carefully chosen individuals perceived to have significant personal wealth’, including company directors, and featured violence and threats if the gang’s victims were home at the time.

He will be sentenced next Friday.

Detective Inspector Gayle Hart, the senior investigating officer in the case for Nottinghamshire Police, said Mr Cole and his partner Sharon Canu are likely to ‘feel the after effects of what has happened for quite some time’.

Commenting on what the couple had to go through, DI Hart said: ‘The court heard from Mr. Cole and his partner in their testimony, which was very powerful, where they genuinely thought they were going to die, given the circumstances.

Ashley Cole before the UEFA European Under-21 Championship Qualifier match between England U21s and Czech Republic U21s on November 11, 2021

Ashley Cole before the UEFA European Under-21 Championship Qualifier match between England U21s and Czech Republic U21s on November 11, 2021

Ashley Cole before the UEFA European Under-21 Championship Qualifier match between England U21s and Czech Republic U21s on November 11, 2021

It was absolutely horrible and they still feel the effects of that.

‘People want to feel safe in their homes so that’s very difficult.

It’s the same for all the victims really, this hasn’t gone away for them at all, they are all still dealing with the after effects and these people invading their homes.

‘It is quite horrific so they are all still feeling the after effects of what has happened and probably will for quite some time.’

Speaking about the gang, DI Hart said: ‘They are certainly dangerous. There’s clearly some planning around this case, as we’ve heard around some of the reconnaissance on some of the victims.

‘They’ve gone very planned – the type of clothing where you can’t get recognized, the weapons they’ve taken, the tools they’ve used to get into the premises with things like ladders and sledgehammers, the actions they’ve taken to try and clean some of the areas up at the scenes, using cleaning products to try and eliminate any forensic evidence.

A very well thought out group of people, and will definitely use violence.

‘So, yes, a very dangerous group of people.’

Asked if she had a message for anyone considering similar attacks on high-profile individuals, DI Hart said: ‘I would certainly say that Nottinghamshire Police have done some excellent work with regard to this case.

They’ve continued with the tenacity and the dedication and diligence of this to get this to be resolved at court.

‘So be assured if anybody else is out there planning something similar, we will be on them.

‘We will follow them, we will catch them and we will prosecute them.’

A piece of ‘absolutely fantastic luck’ helped detectives catch a violent gang after police raided a jeweler 15 minutes after stolen goods from a footballer’s house were dropped off at the premises.

Nottinghamshire Police requested a search warrant for Paris Jewels in Hatton Garden, London, after identifying links between the shop and the theft of the Portland Tiara from the Harley Gallery in Nottinghamshire in 2018.

The force executed the warrant on May 2, 2019 – unaware of any links to a tie-up robbery at the home of former Tottenham Hotspur and Derby County midfielder Tom Huddlestone, which had taken place the night before in Caythorpe, Nottinghamshire.

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

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

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

Detective Inspector Gayle Hart, who led the investigation, said officers found a bag of stolen high-value goods under the counter in the shop – which included an FA Cup runners-up medal.

CCTV footage showed the police had entered the address just 15 minutes after the bag had been dropped off.

Speaking about the execution of the warrant, DI Hart said: ‘The inquiry team went down to London and while we were there we actually identified a jeweler we thought was likely to be involved.

A short time later we went back to that jeweller, which was Paris Jewels, and executed a search warrant and while there we recovered some stolen property, which we later identified as the majority of the stolen property from the Caythorpe burglary.

‘So we recognized that actually it was a burglary in Nottinghamshire, a tie-up robbery, and that the goods had turned up within 12 hours at Paris Jewels.

‘So that opened the investigation up really to look at what other burglaries had happened in Nottinghamshire and their movements within London, and we found that there was a significant pattern there.

‘That then opened it up around other suspects involved.’

Addressing the good fortune involved in linking the cases together, DI Hart said: ‘It was a bit of absolutely fantastic luck. This really was the breakthrough to link all these jobs together.

‘So in terms of the Caythorpe tie-up robbery, that actually occurred on May 1 and the investigation team were currently down in London, so we were planning to execute our warrant on May 2, and indeed that’s what we did.

‘We actually went into the jewelery shop just after 11 o’clock that morning, and we’ve since learned that the property from that burglary in Caythorpe had clearly been delivered in the early hours of that morning, immediately after that burglary.

‘Then we recovered it in the shop probably only 15 minutes after it had landed in the shop.

The police then walked through the door and executed the warrant. So some good fortune, definitely.’

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