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Men jailed over Ashley Cole raid and £3.5m Portland Tiara heist

BY: The BBC
Ashley Cole and partner Sharon Canu were bound by cable ties during the raid at their home in Fetcham, Surrey
Ashley Cole and partner Sharon Canu were bound by cable ties during the raid at their home in Fetcham, Surrey

Six men have been jailed for their parts in a raid at ex-footballer Ashley Cole's home and a £3.5m tiara heist.

Mr Cole and his partner Sharon Canu were bound by cable ties when they were robbed at their home in January 2020.

The former England left-back told Nottingham Crown Court the raid "haunts me" and changed him as a person.

The Portland Tiara was stolen from its glass case at the Welbeck Estate in Nottinghamshire in November 2018, and has not been seen since.

One man, Kurtis Dilks, was convicted over the violent raid at Mr Cole's home, with three - Dilks, Ashley Cumberpatch and Andrew MacDonald - guilty over the theft of the tiara.

Dilks was jailed for 30 years, Cumberpatch for 24 years and MacDonald for 27 years on Friday.

Judge James Sampson, addressing the trio, said: "I've no doubt you're all intelligent, violent and chillingly ruthless men.

"You're lifestyle criminals and you were willing to terrorise your victims to satisfy your greed."

Talking about the tiara theft, the judge added: "It was a heinous attack on the country's heritage. There must have been extensive planning."

In total, six men were convicted for their roles in a string of "ruthlessly executed" robberies and burglaries between October 2018 and January 2020 after a 10-week trial at Nottingham Crown Court.

Det Insp Gayle Hart, of Nottinghamshire Police, previously told the BBC she and a colleague had put off retirement as they were "so determined" to see the investigation through.

"As these criminals each begin richly deserved jail sentences, I would like to thank the dedicated team of detectives who devoted countless hours to one of the most complex investigations I can remember," she said.

"I am acutely aware that no amount of jail time can undo the very considerable harm done to the victims in this case, but I do hope that these sentences provide them with at least some degree of closure."

Mr Cole, who also played for Chelsea and Arsenal, broke down when talking about how a gang tied his hands while he was holding his daughter.

The gang also threatened to cut Mr Cole's fingers off with pliers, the court heard.

In a victim impact statement read out at the sentencing, Mr Cole said it had changed the lives of his partner and his children, as well as himself.

"The picture of that night remains and impacts everything," he said.

"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."

He added he had invested hugely on home security to the point that it makes it "feel like a fortress", but he said he still could not go out to the bin without a torch and his guard dog.

Ms Canu was in court to hear her statement read by prosecutor Michael Brady QC, which said she struggled to trust people and feel safe following the attack.

"I'm so conscious about who I have in my house," she said.

"Randomly you can be doing something and the tears come."

The Portland Tiara, described as a "national treasure" and "part of the nation's history", was taken in an audacious raid that took less than eight minutes.

The 6th Duke of Portland commissioned Cartier to create the tiara for his wife Winifred, Duchess of Portland, who wore it to the coronation of King Edward, the Queen's great-grandfather, in 1902.

The trial heard the theft of the tiara and its associated brooch - worth a combined total of £3.75m - was a "shocking event" and they will never again be seen in their original state.

Jewellers Tevfik Guccuk and Sercan Evsin, and co-defendant Christopher Yorke, were convicted of converting criminal property following the tiara theft.

Items were passed to professional handlers Guccuk and Evsin, who the court was told were tasked with selling them.

The court heard it is thought the tiara and brooch were taken out of the country by Guccuk to his native Turkey after they were dropped off at an "ostensibly legitimate jewellery business", Paris Jewels, in Hatton Garden, London, in November 2018.

Guccuk and Evsin were jailed for seven and five years respectively, with Yorke given a 12-month suspended sentence.

In addition to the attack on Mr Cole, Dilks was also found guilty of conspiring to rob the wife of former Tottenham, Hull and Derby midfielder Tom Huddlestone in May 2019 with fellow defendants Cumberpatch and MacDonald.

Joanna Dixon told the court she feared masked robbers "might kill me" as they made off with an FA Cup medal, a £121,000 engagement ring and watches.

The defendants

  • Kurtis Dilks, 35, of Whitegate Vale in Clifton, Nottingham, was found guilty of three counts of conspiracy to commit burglary, four counts of converting criminal property, three counts of conspiracy to commit robbery, and two counts of robbery, and was jailed for 30 years, with a five-year extended licence period
  • Ashley Cumberpatch, 37, previously of First Avenue in Carlton, Nottinghamshire, was convicted of three counts of conspiracy to commit burglary, five counts of converting criminal property, and three counts of conspiracy to commit robbery, and was jailed for 24 years, with a five-year extended licence period
  • Andrew MacDonald, 42, of no fixed address, was found guilty of three counts of conspiracy to commit burglary, five counts of converting criminal property, and three counts of conspiracy to commit robbery, and was jailed for 27 years, with a five-year extended licence period
  • Tevfik Guccuk, 41, of Houndsden Road, Southgate, London, was found guilty of five counts of converting criminal property, and was jailed for seven years
  • Sercan Evsin, 27, of Meadow Close in Barnet, was convicted of four counts of converting criminal property, and was jailed for five years
  • Christopher Yorke, 50, of Rose Ash Lane in Nottingham, was convicted of one count of converting criminal property, and was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for 21 months. He was also told to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

Credit: The BBC