‘Dominant and dangerous’ man behind Ashley Cole raid and string of ‘ruthless’ robberies

They were a series of “ruthlessly executed” robberies, fronted by a “dominant and dangerous” leader in Kurtis Dilks. Over ten weeks the jury at Nottingham Crown Court heard how a group of men broke into the family home of former footballer Ashley Cole and terrorised his family, stole jewellery worth more than £3.5m from a gallery in Nottinghamshire and plotted to rob the house of ex-Tottenham midfielder Tom Huddlestone.

The details were sometimes hard to listen to, not least when Cole explained how he thought that he was going to die while his fiancee and children were in the house. But after four days of deliberating, at lunchtime on Friday, the jury found Dilks and a number of his associates guilty on a range of charges.

For Dilks the charge sheet read as follows: 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.

The 35-year-old courier, who had denied all counts, will learn of his sentence in court next Friday. Five of the nine other men were found guilty on between one and 11 charges and four others were found not guilty following a trial headlined by the disturbing evidence given by the former England left back via a pre-recorded interview with police.

During the trial Dilks told the jury he believed someone was “framing” him after a knife with his DNA was found outside Cole’s house near the village of Fetcham. The courier claimed someone had stolen the knife and other items from his van and he was “most certainly not” involved in the robbery. He was the only member of the group to have left DNA at the scene.






Ashley Cole and his partner Sharon Canu.


Ashley Cole and his partner Sharon Canu.
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Getty Images)

Under questioning from his defence barrister, Simon Eckersley, Dilks had said: “The only aspect I can believe is those items were stolen out of my van. It’s something I don’t do every day, to check everything is there. I would only check if I needed to use the item.”

Earlier in the trial jurors heard how Cole and his fiancee, Sharon Canu, both had their hands bound by black cable ties. Watches, mobile phones, cash, a Gucci bag, headphones and a BMW smart key were all stolen during the break-in, the court was told.

In the pre-recorded police interview that was played in court, Cole told officers: “I heard a banging noise. It was like outside of my balcony just to my left, coming through my window like vibrating up the walls into my bed. So then I like, literally, looked at Sharon, who was on the left of me. She thought the same – that noise is not normal. I said, ‘What’s that’? and she said, ‘I don’t know.'”

Cole then explained he could see a ladder being carried by someone trying to place it on his balcony. “They just charged towards my bedroom windows,” he continued. “By this time I knew now, I am going to die. Like, I have my kids in the house, I have no one to help. It’s just us now. I tried to shout on the balcony as loud as I could to get back in the house, so I could alert Sharon.”






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PA)

“I waited really either to be killed or I would never see my kids again,” Cole added before describing how one intruder demanded “take me to your safe” before he was then grabbed by the neck while carrying his daughter before having his hands tied with cables. “I’m slumped down on my knees,” he said.

Cole explained how he was taken downstairs and asked where the bleach was. “I thought they were going to torture me,” he added. “I thought he was either going to put bleach on my face, burn me or set me alight.”

Cole then claimed Febreze was sprayed on his hands before he was taken back upstairs, where his wife and children were now also in the room. “He said [one of the robbers], ‘Where is the jewellery,'” Cole added. “I said, ‘I don’t have nothing’. He is getting a little bit more aggressive. The big fat guy [his description of one raider] said he was going to chop my fingers.”

Dilks was further found guilty of conspiring to rob the home of former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Huddlestone in 2019, in addition to being involved in the theft of a £3.5million tiara and £250,000 in other jewellery from the Harley Gallery in Welbeck, near Worksop, Nottinghamshire, in November of 2018.







The Portland Tiara that was stolen from a gallery. (Nottinghamshire Police)
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PA)

One of Dilks’ accomplices, Ashley Cumberpatch, was accused in court of filming the tiara with a camera as part of a family day out at an earlier date. He told the jury that he “liked exploring new places” and filmed the gallery because he wanted to try out a new GoPro.

“It’s hard to see what you’re filming on a GoPro,” he said in response to a question from defence barrister Isabelle Gillard. “I wasn’t filming the tiara – I just wanted to watch everything in there.” He claimed that he kept the video because he “wanted to watch it back.”

When police searched his home following his arrest the frontpage of a newspaper that had splashed on the story of the stolen tiara was found. The tiara itself has not been relocated.

Cumberpatch, with a former address in Carlton, and Andrew MacDonald, formerly of Woodstock Avenue in Nottingham, were both found guilty on 11 charges. Tevfik Guccuk, of Southgate in London, was found guilty on five charges and Sercan Evsin, with an address in Barnet, was guilty on four charges. Christopher Yorke, from Rose Ash Lane in Arnold, was found guilty on one charge.

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