Former England footballer Ashley Cole told police “I knew now, I am going to die”, as masked raiders smashed into his home and tied his hands while he was holding his young daughter, a court has heard.
Nottingham Crown Court was shown footage of the ex-Arsenal, Chelsea and Derby defender 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 told police: “I was on my knees, waiting to either be killed… I’ll never see my kids again.”
Kurtis Dilks, 34, is charged with being part of the gang which allegedly smashed into the home of Mr Cole and his partner Sharon Canu with a sledgehammer, and threatened to cut the ex-footballer’s fingers off with pliers.
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 could hear it was like outside of my bedroom, just to the left, coming through the window.
“The banging was vibrating up the walls into my bedroom.
“I literally looked at Sharon… and I said ‘what’s that?’
“She said ‘I don’t know but that’s not a normal noise’.
“I got off the bed and said to her ‘this is why I should keep a weapon, like a golf club, in my bedroom’.”
Mr Cole said he then looked at the cameras on his phone to see if he could identify the intruders.
He said: “I could see they were carrying a ladder towards my balcony.
“I said ‘Sharon, there’s someone in the garden trying to get on the balcony… call the police’.”
Recalling what happened when he stepped out on to his balcony, Mr Cole said: “I swore at them and shouted ‘help me, someone is trying to get into my house’ and they turned and went to run away.”
He continued: “Now I see a minimum of four running from a bush which is probably 15 yards away or so.
“They half-shouted ‘agh’ and charged towards my bottom windows.
“I knew now, I am going to die.
“I have got my kids in the house and I have no-one to help.
“I tried to shout on the balcony as loud as I could.
“I just looked at (Ms Canu) and said ‘there’s people coming in the house, get the kids and call the police’.
“She was shook and a little bit scared.”
Mr Cole told police that he went to get his daughter while Ms Canu went to get their son.
He said: “I thought if I hide maybe they’re going to be more angry and if I have got my baby on my lap they won’t hurt us.”
The former England defender then appeared to get emotional as he put his hands on his face, before saying: “I said it wouldn’t affect me, but Jesus.”
Continuing to recall what happened, Mr Cole said: “I was on my knees, waiting to either be killed… I’ll never see my kids again, and I just heard lots of footsteps running up the stairs.
“Obviously before that I heard the window smash.
“I was being brave, I didn’t want to show our daughter that I was scared for our lives.”
Recalling what happened after the intruders made their way upstairs, Mr Cole said one of the men said “get the f*** up”, before saying “give me all the f****** jewels and all the f****** kettles” and “take me to your f****** safe”.
Mr Cole said: “By then he’s grabbed me by the neck and I have got my daughter in my arms.
“He said ‘let go of the baby’ and I said ‘I’m not leaving my little girl here… I’m not going to leave my baby’.
“I’m trying to protect my daughter – he could see I wasn’t getting up easily and he was pushing my head forwards a little bit harder and said ‘give me your arms, put your hands behind your back’.
“His hand was always on my neck.
“He said ‘don’t you f****** look at me, I’m not f****** going to hurt you, I just want your f****** jewels and kettles’.
“Now he’s getting a little bit forceful – he put my hands behind my back and I shuffle towards the door.
“I said ‘look, just take everything, just leave me and my family alone’.
“Now my partner is at my door and is saying ‘leave him alone, leave him alone’.
“By then, he’s now put these ties (on me) – they were black, long and thick.
“I remember him putting them on behind my back and he did it and tied it… really tight.
“He’s picked me up by my arms and obviously still held my neck.
“I’m still in my pants and I remember thinking ‘what’s going to happen?’
“I can see Sharon is crying.
“My son, he’s seen my hands being tied behind my back, and I looked at him and saw his face – he was just white.”
In the second part of Cole’s interview with police, he described how one “aggressive” robber tried to cut him.
He said: “He was saying he just wanted to cut my hands, he wanted to cut me straight away basically.”
Cole said the intruder said: “Cut his f****** hands, cut his f****** fingers.”
The ex-footballer continued: “Then I thought ‘are they going to torture me?’
“Then he said ‘where’s your cleaning products?’
“I’m thinking he’s either going to burn me or set me alight.”
Cole said one of the robbers, whom he called “the boss”, then pushed his hands towards the aggressive robber “who was trying to chop my fingers”.
He said the intruders were then “alerted” to the presence of police and ran off “in five seconds”.
Cole said: “Just before that I thought that was it, they wanted more, I couldn’t give any more.
“I thought they are either going to kill me in front of my kids or they are going to take their frustration out on my kids or on Sharon.”
Dilks faces 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.
Nine other men are also on trial for their alleged part in the series of “ruthlessly executed” burglaries – including the theft of a £3.5 million tiara.
The trial continues.