Gang sentenced after 'priceless tiara' stolen among 'ruthlessly executed' robberies

Some of the jewels stolen (L) and CCTV of the robbers (R)
Some of the stolen jewellery (l) and the gang seen on CCTV (r) Credit: Handout

A gang of men convicted in connection with the theft of a diamond tiara worth more than £3.5 million, and a series of other violent robberies, have been jailed for a total of 108 years.

The diamond-encrusted Portland Tiara was stolen in a raid on the Harley Gallery on the Welbeck Estate near Worksop in Nottinghamshire in 2018.

The Portland tiara Credit: Handout

Four of the gang were also involved in a series of violent robberies, including the homes of ex-Derby County footballers Ashley Cole and Tom Huddlestone.

Ashley Cole Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Former England footballer Ashley Cole said the 'terror and confusion' on his children's faces when a gang of men smashed their way into his home, tied him up and threatened to cut off his fingers 'will never leave me'.

His personal statement was read out at Nottingham Crown Court, as a judge prepared to jail one of the men involved in the raid in January 2020, during which the player thought he was going to die.

Nottingham Crown Court Credit: ITV Central

Read by a prosecutor, the former full-back said in his statement:

'The picture of that night remains and impacts everything. The terror and confusion on my children's face is something that will never leave me.

'These images and thoughts will never, ever leave my mind and can pop up any time'.

Cole described how he has invested hugely on security at his home in Surrey, to the point that it makes it 'feel like a fortress'.

But he said he still cannot go out to the bin without a torch and his guard dog.

Cole's partner Sharon Canu was in court on Friday to hear her statement, also read by prosecutor Michael Brady QC.

Sharon Canu

She described in her document how the raid has had a "huge impact" on her life, recalling how she tried to hide in a wardrobe with her son as her husband was tied up, and her daughter pleaded for comfort.

Kurtis Dilks

Kurtis Dilks, who was part of the four-strong gang which smashed into their home of Ashley Cole and threatened to cut off his fingers, has been jailed at Nottingham Crown Court for 30 years, with a five-year extended licence period.

He 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.

Judge James Sampson praised the "courage and resilience" of Cole and his partner Sharon Canu, as well as all the other victims of the gang.

He told Kurtis Dilks:

'The psychological impact on Mr Cole and Ms Canu, as with all of your victims, cannot be overstated'.

The judge told Nottingham Crown Court the attack on the footballer's home was "extremely terrifying" and described the gang as "intelligent, violent and chillingly ruthless men".

As well as the attack on Cole, Dilks was found guilty of conspiring to rob the wife of former Derby, Tottenham, and Hull midfielder Tom Huddlestone in May 2019, with fellow defendants Ashley Cumberpatch and Andrew MacDonald.

What did the gang steal and from where ?

Last week six men were found guilty of a variety of offences including conspiracy to commit burglary, converting criminal property, and robbery.

The gang of men who carried out the violent crimes Credit: Handout

Ashley Cumberbatch, seen in the middle of the top row in the photo above, was today jailed for 29 years.

Andrew McDonald, seen first left in the top row, was jailed for 32 years.

Kurtis Dilks, seen third left in the top row, was jailed for 35 years.

Sercan Evsin, seen first left in the bottom row, was jailed for five years.

Tevfik Guccuk, seen in the middle of the bottom row, was jailed for seven years.

Christopher Yorke, seen bottom right of the photo, was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for 21 months. He must also do two hundred hours unpaid work.