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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Jessica Murray and agencies

Ashley Cole thought he was going to die during home raid, court told

Everton first team coach Ashley Cole arriving for Premier League match at Leicester
Everton first team coach Ashley Cole arriving for Premier League match at Leicester on Sunday. Photograph: Plumb Images/Leicester City FC/Getty Images

The former England footballer Ashley Cole told police he thought he was “going to die” as masked raiders smashed into his home and threatened to cut off his fingers with pliers, a court has heard.

Nottingham crown court was shown footage of a group of men breaking into Cole’s Surrey home in January 2020, shortly after he had settled down to watch Netflix with his partner, Sharon Canu.

Kurtis Dilks, 34, is charged with being part of the gang that allegedly smashed into the house with a sledgehammer and tied Cole’s hands behind his back in front of his children.

Kurtis Dilks
Kurtis Dilks arrives at Nottingham crown court on Tuesday. Photograph: Jacob King/PA

Cole told police he was “on my knees, waiting to be killed”. He said he had just got back from work when he heard a “banging sound”. “I got off the bed and said to [Canu]: ‘This is why I should keep a weapon, like a golf club, in my bedroom,’” he told police.

Cole used his phone to look at footage from the security cameras and could see the intruders carrying a ladder towards the balcony. He said he stepped on to the balcony and “swore at them and shouted: ‘Help me, someone is trying to get into my house.’”

He then saw a minimum of four people running from a bush and charging towards his ground-floor windows.

“I knew now, I am going to die. I have got my kids in the house and I have no one to help,” he said. “I tried to shout on the balcony as loud as I could. I just looked at [Canu] and said: ‘There’s people coming in the house, get the kids and call the police’.”

He told police he went to his daughter while Canu went to get their son. “I thought if I hide maybe they’re going to be more angry and if I have got my baby on my lap they won’t hurt us,” he said.

The former Arsenal, Chelsea and Derby defender – now a coach at Everton – became emotional as he put his hands on his face, before saying: “I was on my knees, waiting to either be killed … I’ll never see my kids again, and I just heard lots of footsteps running up the stairs. I was being brave, I didn’t want to show our daughter that I was scared for our lives.”

He recalled how an intruder grabbed him by the neck while he was holding his daughter.

“He said: ‘Let go of the baby,’ and I said: ‘I’m not leaving my little girl here … I’m not going to leave my baby,” he said. “By then he’s grabbed me by the neck and I have got my daughter in my arms. I said: ‘Look, just take everything, just leave me and my family alone.’”

Canu then came to the door and pleaded with the intruders to leave Cole alone, while they tied his hands behind his back “I’m still in my pants and I remember thinking: ‘What’s going to happen?’ I can see Sharon is crying,” Cole said. “My son, he’s seen my hands being tied behind my back, and I looked at him and saw his face – he was just white.”

Cole went on to describe how one “aggressive” robber tried to cut him and the intruder said: “Cut his fucking hands, cut his fucking fingers.”

He said the intruders ran off “in five seconds” when they were alerted to the presence of police.

Dilks is accused of 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.

Nine other men are also on trial for their alleged part in the series of “ruthlessly executed” burglaries, including the theft of a £3.5m tiara. The trial continues.

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