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East End gangster-turned-actor Dave Courtney is dead aged 64: Notorious hardman who was an associate of the Krays shoots himself at home


East End gangster-turned-actor Dave Courtney has died aged 64 after shooting himself at his London home.

Courtney, one of Britain’s best-known gangster, made a name for himself through his affiliation with famous London East End hardmen such as the Krays, Roy Shaw and Lenny McLean.

He was only nine-years-old when the London-based double act were jailed but he claims to have arranged the security for Ronnie Kray’s funeral back in 1995.

In a statement on his official social media accounts, a spokesman said Courtney shot himself at home. 

The Metropolitan Police said officers attended a property on Chestnut Rise, in Plumstead, south-east London. The man was pronounced dead at the scene and his death is being treated as unexpected and is under investigation. No arrests have been made and his family have been informed, the force said.  

Celebrity gangster-turned-actor Dave Courtney, who referred to himself as 'the most feared man in Britain', has died aged 64

Celebrity gangster-turned-actor Dave Courtney, who referred to himself as ‘the most feared man in Britain’, has died aged 64

Friends, fans and loved ones paid tribute to the man, once known as the 'yellow pages of the underworld, who was said to 'have a heart of gold'

Friends, fans and loved ones paid tribute to the man, once known as the ‘yellow pages of the underworld, who was said to ‘have a heart of gold’

Courtney, one of Britain's best-known gangster, made a name for himself through his affiliation with famous London East End hardmen

Courtney, one of Britain’s best-known gangster, made a name for himself through his affiliation with famous London East End hardmen

The Metropolitan Police said they were called to a property on Chestnut Rise, in Plumstead, south-east London, this morning following reports of a man found dead. Pictured: Courtney's Camelot Castle in Plumstead.

The Metropolitan Police said they were called to a property on Chestnut Rise, in Plumstead, south-east London, this morning following reports of a man found dead. Pictured: Courtney’s Camelot Castle in Plumstead. 

Born in Bermondsey, south London, Courtney became infamous as a knuckle-duster wielding debt collector, previously claiming to have been shot, stabbed and had his nose almost bitten off – before they sewed it back on. 

He claimed to have been found not guilty in 19 separate trials but in January 2009 he was given an 18-month conditional discharge at Bristol Crown Court, on a charge of possessing live ammunition.

The prolific gangster is said to have been the inspiration for Vinnie Jones’ character Big Chris in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels 

In 2004 he was cleared of attacking his wife Jennifer Pinto over an alleged lesbian affair. Four years earlier, he walked free from the Old Bailey after he was cleared of being part of a plot to plant cocaine on an innocent woman.

During the trial he was named as a registered police informant using the alias ‘Tommy Mack’. But Courtney insisted he simply took advantage of the system to disguise a relationship with a corrupt detective.

‘I have never been a grass,’ he said. He is also known to have spent time in Belmarsh prison.

In recent times he became somewhat of a celebrity figure, making a living from appearances in numerous television documentaries and a number of low-budget British gangster films. He also starred in, directed and produced his own film, Hell To Pay.

He went on to feature in films such as Six Bend Trapp, Clubbing to Death and The Dead Sleep Easy. 

Courtney starring in ITV's Celebrity Villain

Courtney starring in ITV’s Celebrity Villain 

Courtney, 63, who is said to have been the inspiration for Vinnie Jones' character Big Chris (pictured) in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, built a special 12-foot-high fence enclosure for the bird

Courtney, 63, who is said to have been the inspiration for Vinnie Jones’ character Big Chris (pictured) in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, built a special 12-foot-high fence enclosure for the bird

Born in Bermondsey, south London, Courtney became infamous as a knuckle-duster wielding debt collector

Born in Bermondsey, south London, Courtney became infamous as a knuckle-duster wielding debt collector

Courtney published six books - including titles such as Dodgy Dave's Little Black Book - and recorded a version of 'I Fought The Law' with Scottish pop-punks Mute

Courtney published six books – including titles such as Dodgy Dave’s Little Black Book – and recorded a version of ‘I Fought The Law’ with Scottish pop-punks Mute

Courtney published six books – including titles such as Dodgy Dave’s Little Black Book – and recorded a version of ‘I Fought The Law’ with Scottish pop-punks Mute.

He referred to himself as Dave Courtney OBE – ‘One Big Ego’ – and has a painted depiction of himself as a knight in his south London house.

Today tributes for the much-loved gangster have poured in on social media.  

Writer and author Rocky Troiani said on social media: ‘This is a post I never thought I would be writing. The loss of Dave Courtney is beyond words so heartbreaking to write. 

‘Dave had been a close friend for many years as well as a great support for my charity work as photo shows here and even for a little sick girl just couple years ago dressed a father Christmas. 

‘Dave had a heart of pure gold and would help anyone that genuinely needed it. I will miss my Christmas eve call this year. Such a sad loss and one that has broken many hearts too. God bless you sir you will be so sadly missed.’

Another wrote: ‘Some called him a gangster, some called him a villain I’m sure he was called an awful lot of things. As for me, for 15 years I called him my friend.

Courtney claimed to have been shot, stabbed and had his nose almost bitten off - before they sewed it back on - during his time as an East-London gangster

Courtney claimed to have been shot, stabbed and had his nose almost bitten off – before they sewed it back on – during his time as an East-London gangster 

Courtney attends the funeral of criminal Bruce Richard Reynolds - the mastermind behind the 1963 Great Train Robbery - in March 2013

Courtney attends the funeral of criminal Bruce Richard Reynolds – the mastermind behind the 1963 Great Train Robbery – in March 2013 

Courtney went on to feature in films such as Six Bend Trapp, Clubbing to Death and The Dead Sleep Easy

Courtney went on to feature in films such as Six Bend Trapp, Clubbing to Death and The Dead Sleep Easy

Courtney at the Cafe De Paris launch party for the opening of the Licence to Thrill ride

Courtney at the Cafe De Paris launch party for the opening of the Licence to Thrill ride

‘Truly and deeply saddened to hear he has left this world. RIP my good friend Dave Courtney. I will miss you.’

Making his final footsteps online, Dave shared a photos of himself, surrounded by friends, who beamed into the camera as they enjoyed a day out at Charlton Athletic F.C. in east London.

Looking jolly in the pictures, the former gangster wrote: ‘At Charlton today. Full works today three course meal and our man James company is Sponsor for the game. Billingham communications … an what a cool cool day it’s all turning out to be.’ 

In a video posted shortly before, he was seen wearing the same waistcoat and red tie he is seen promoting a candle company, happily telling fans how to ‘introduce a little class into their homes with candles.

‘It will make your whole road smell nice,’ he said. ‘So much so do I believe their good if your unhappy with it bring it back to my house.’ 

He goes on to blow a kiss into the camera, signing off with a gleeful chuckle.

The video appeared to be made outside of his home ‘Camelot Castle’ in south-east London.

His home became a local landmark over the years, decked out with union flags and flags of St George.

It also has a huge side wall mural of the ex-gangster depicted as a knight sitting on a knuckle duster-themed throne surrounded by his men.



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