A "dominant and dangerous" robber has been convicted of being part of a four-strong gang who smashed into the home of former England footballer Ashley Cole and threatened to cut his fingers off.
Ex-Arsenal, Chelsea and Derby County defender Cole told police he "knew 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 in January 2020.
The court heard Mr Cole told police: "I was on my knees, waiting to either be killed… I’ll never see my kids again."
Nottingham Crown Court was shown footage of Mr Cole recalling how a minimum of four men broke into his Surrey home in January 2020 shortly after he had settled down to watch Netflix.
Mr Cole said he had just got back from work with Chelsea’s under-15s before hearing a “banging sound”.
He told police: “As soon as I put Netflix on, literally 10 to 15 seconds after that, I heard like a banging sound.
“I literally looked at Sharon… and I said ‘what’s that?’.
“She said ‘I don’t know but that’s not a normal noise’.
Mr Cole said he looked at the cameras on his phone to see if he could identify the intruders.
Nottingham Crown Court heard how Kurtis 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 his partner Sharon Canu.
The 35-year-old courier claimed his DNA was found on the cable ties and a knife recovered from the scene in Fetcham, Surrey, because they were items previously stolen from his van.
Dilks was convicted alongside five others for their roles in a string of "ruthlessly executed”" 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.