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 – says 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.