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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”.
Ex-Arsenal, Chelsea and Derby defender Cole’s personal statement was read out at Nottingham Crown Court as a judge prepared to jail one of the men involved in the raid in January 2020, during which the player thought he was going to die.
Kurtis Dilks, 35, is due to be sentenced on Friday afternoon.
The terror and confusion on my children's face is something that will never leave me
Read by a prosecutor, the former full-back said in his statement: “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.”
He 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.
Cole’s partner Sharon 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.
He was convicted alongside five others for their roles in a string of what prosecutors said were “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, 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.
Cole was not in court on Friday.
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.