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A “chillingly ruthless” robber who was part of a gang who tied up former England footballer Ashley Cole in front of his children and threatened to cut off his fingers has been jailed for 30 years.
Kurtis Dilks, 35, was also ordered to serve an extended licence period of five years by a judge at Nottingham Crown Court who said the former Chelsea and Arsenal defender and his partner Sharon Canu had suffered psychological impacts that “cannot be overstated”.
The judge said the attack on the footballer’s Surrey home was “extremely terrifying”, and he described the gang as “intelligent, violent and chillingly ruthless men”.
Dilks’s trial heard Cole had 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.
In an impact statement read to the court earlier, Cole said the “terror and confusion” on his children’s faces when the gang smashed into his home “will never leave” him.
Read by a prosecutor, the former full-back said in his statement: “The picture of that night remains and impacts everything.”
He added: “These images and thoughts will never ever leave my mind and can pop up any time.”
He said he has invested heavily in security at his home in Fetcham, Surrey, which now feels “like a fortress”.
But he said he still cannot go out to the bin without a torch and guard dog.
Ms Canu was in court on Friday to hear her statement also being read by prosecutor Michael Brady QC.
She said the raid has had a “huge impact” on her life, remembering how she tried to hide in a wardrobe with her son as her husband was tied up and her daughter pleaded for comfort.
She said: “That will never leave me”.
Ms Canu despite the dogs, panic alarms and fences that have been installed in the property, she still does not feel safe.
She said the family considered moving but “the truth is that the feelings and the fear would be there no matter where the house was”.
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 £3.5million 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 sporting a mask, Dilks sat in the glass-fronted dock with five other defendants, staring forward as he listened to the impact statements.
Judge James Sampson described another raid by the gang on a businessman and his wife as “a truly terrifying experience”.
The man was tortured by one of the raiders who cut his ear with tin cutters and tied him up, along with his wife.
In his impact statement, the man said he thought he was going to be murdered when he was driven off with a bag over his head, leaving his bound wife behind with other gang members, believing she would also be killed.
The raiders also targeted the businessman’s mother, who had dementia and was left wandering her house in a confused state.
Dilks also took part in the raid of the home of footballer Tom Huddlestone when his wife, Joanna Dixon, was at home with her young son, as the player was at an away match in May 2019.
Ms Dixon told the judge, in a victim impact statement, how she was left severely traumatised when two men wearing balaclavas came into her bedroom and tied her up with cable ties as they searched the house, taking £500,000 of property.
Judge Sampson said the theft of the Portland Tiara from the Harley Gallery was valued at £3.75 million in cash but “culturally, it is was priceless”.
He said that within 36 hours the jewel was in Turkey.
The judge told Dilks, MacDonald and Cumberpatch: “You are lifestyle criminals and you were willing to terrorise your victims to satisfy your greed.”
Dilks, of Whitegate Vale, Nottingham, was jailed for 30 years with a five-year extended licence due to his dangerousness.
Cumberpatch, 37, formerly of First Avenue, Nottingham, was jailed for 24 years with a five-year extended licence.
MacDonald, 42, of Berridge Road West, Nottingham, was jailed for 27 years with a five-year extended licence.
Two other defendants were also jailed for their roles in processing more than £4 million worth of property through a Hatton Garden business in London.
Tevfik Guccuk, 41, of Houndsden Road, Southgate, London, was jailed for seven years and Sercan Evsin, 27, of Meadow Close, Barnet, was jailed for five years.
A sixth defendant, Christopher Yorke, 50, of Rose Ash Lane, Nottingham, was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for 21 months.