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Former England footballer Ashley Cole was tied up by knife-wielding raiders who broke into his mansion and threatened: "Let’s cut his fingers’’, a court heard.
Jurors were told the 40-year-old ex-Chelsea and Arsenal star’s hands were bound behind his back by the six-strong masked mob in camouflage gear who demanded jewellery and watches.
One of the gang – toting pliers – repeatedly asked to cut the footballer’s fingers but was prevented by an accomplice, a jury at Nottingham Crown Court heard.
Another was allegedly armed with a sledgehammer.
Cole’s hands were then doused with odour eliminator Febreze in an apparent bid to destroy DNA evidence before the gang fled his Surrey mansion with five designer watches and two mobile phones as police arrived.
The court heard Cole's Italian model girlfriend Sharon Canu had managed to dial 999 when the couple realised they were being burgled as they watched a film together at 9.30pm on January 21 2020.
Before officers arrived prosecutors said the pair and their two children endured a "violent and ruthlessly executed" ordeal that saw Cole, wearing only a pair of shorts, bound with cable ties and forced to his knees in front of his family.
One of the alleged raiders – Kurtis Dilks, from Nottingham – denies robbery.
The 33-year-old also denies conspiracy to rob the home of Hull City footballer Tom Huddlestone while he was playing an away game and conspiracy to burgle after a £3.5m diamond-encrusted Cartier Portland Tiara was stolen from a glass display case at the Welbeck Estate, Notts.
Nine others – eight men and a woman – are in the dock with Dilks accused of being `to a greater or lesser extent involved in a series of extremely serious, high profile, carefully planned and at times ruthlessly executed burglaries and violent robberies’ between October 2018 and July 2019.
An eleventh defendant is charged with converting criminal property unrelated to the alleged raids.
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Michael Brady QC, prosecuting, said hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of property were stolen in the raids.
The tiara was worn to the coronation of King Edward VII by Winifred, Duchess of Portland.
The goods were `passed to professional handlers whose job it was to discreetly sell the stolen property so that their value could be realised’.
Huddlestone's partner was tied up and jewellery and designer handbags worth £500,000 stolen when his Nottinghamshire home was targeted while he was playing in Swansea.
Mr Brady said Cole, now a first-team coach at Everton, thought he had been followed home from a school run in the days before he was attacked.
After hearing a noise he checked security cameras on his phone to find two people placing a ladder against the wall to access his first-floor balcony.
Cole shouted to them as his partner dialled 999 then hid in the wardrobe with their son.
One of the raiders found her and took the phone from her before her hands were bound with cable ties after she was threatened with a knife.
Cole, who had been "holding his daughter", was confronted by an attacker who demanded jewellery and "kettles" – slang for watches – and to know where the safe was.
When Mr Cole told him that he didn’t have anything "the man grabbed the back of his neck and squeezed it", the prosecutor said.
His hands were bound behind his back and a pliers-toting raider with an Irish accent said: "Let’s cut his fingers.” He was prevented by an accomplice.
When the raiders demanded bleach Cole thought he was going to be "attacked or tortured".
The gang fled when they heard arriving officers shout "police".
Mr Brady said a knife and cable ties found nearby were linked to Dilks via his DNA.
The trial continues.
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