Man convicted of breaking into Ashley Cole's house as star threatened with having his fingers cut off

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A man has been convicted of breaking into the house of Ashley Cole with the star receiving threats during the raid that he would have his fingers cut off.

Kurtis Dilks, 35, was part of a gang that smashed into the former Premier League defender's house wearing masks on 21 January 2020.

"I was on my knees, waiting to be killed," Cole said in footage of an interview shown at Nottingham Crown Court.

He told police he "knew" he was going to die as the raiders tied his hands behind his back despite him holding his young daughter.

Dilks was the only one of the gang to be caught after his DNA was found on cable ties used to restrain Cole and his partner, Sharon Canu, the court heard.

The 35-year-old courier claimed his DNA was discovered on the ties, and also on a knife recovered from the scene in Fetcham, Surrey, because those items had previously been stolen from his van.

Nevertheless, he was convicted alongside five others over a string of 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 trio were also convicted of being part of the theft of a £3.5m tiara worn to the coronation of Edward VII from the Harley Gallery on the Welbeck Estate in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, in 2018.

During the 10-week trial, CCTV footage from Cole's home was shown to the court, which featured the ex-footballer, wearing just his boxer shorts, being led up and down the stairs by the robbers.

Watches, mobile phones, cash, a Gucci bag, headphones and a BMW smart key were stolen during the break-in.

'I'll never see my kids again'

Cole, who played for Arsenal, Chelsea and England, said at least four men broke into his home, shortly after he had settled down to watch Netflix.

He told police: "I was on my knees, waiting to either be killed… I'll never see my kids again."

Cole said he had just got back from working with Chelsea's under-15s when he heard a "banging sound".

He said: "As soon as I put Netflix on, literally 10 to 15 seconds after that, I heard like a banging sound.

"I could hear it was like outside of my bedroom, just to the left, coming through the window.

"The banging was vibrating up the walls into my bedroom. I literally looked at Sharon… and I said, 'what's that?'"

Cole said he then looked at the cameras on his phone to see if he could identify the intruders.

He said: "I could see they were carrying a ladder towards my balcony.

"I said, 'Sharon, there's someone in the garden trying to get on the balcony… call the police'."

Ms Canu hid in a wardrobe and dialled 999 but, the court heard, that one of the robbers opened the door and "took the phone from her while she was talking to the police".

Prosecutor Michael Brady said she became increasingly concerned after spotting a "huge" sledgehammer that the defendants had used to smash the bifold doors downstairs in order to gain entry to the house.

He added that Cole had insisted he did not have any jewellery or watches and one of the intruders "grabbed the back of his neck and squeezed it".

Ms Canu initially "refused to have her hands bound" but was then "threatened with a knife".

'Let's cut his fingers'

Mr Brady continued: "By this stage Mr Cole's hands were also bound behind his back with similar cable ties.

"Mr Cole was then picked up by his arms. He saw how distressed his family was.

"Mr Cole mentioned that one of the attackers, a stocky, more aggressive man who spoke with an Irish accent, kept saying 'Let's cut his fingers'.

"At the time he was armed with a pair of pliers."

The robbers finally fled the house after one of them shouted, "police".

Dilks is due to be sentenced on 15 July.

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