Gangster Dave Courtney recorded an extraordinary video explaining that he was planning to take his own life, and why – three months before the reformed gangster was found dead.
The ex-crook apologised for taking what he called ‘the cowards’ way out’ – but celebrated ‘the wicked life I have had’.
Friends in his inner circle said the film shows he had been planning his own death for more than three months before he was found shot dead in his bed at his ‘Camelot Castle’ home in Plumstead, south east London, on Sunday morning.
Courtney’s goodbye message was filmed on July 5 this year but was only discovered on his mobile phone today by grieving friends. It was later made public via social media.
In it, the 64-year-old spoke directly to camera, often smiling and chuckling as he explained his decision saying his arthritis is ‘crippling me up’ and that he is having to hide a lot of pain.
Dave Courtney recorded a video message explaining he was planning to take his own life – three months before he was found dead at his Plumstead home
In it, the 64-year-old spoke directly to camera, often smiling and chuckling and he explains his decision
In the emotional video, the ex-gangster begged his friends and family not to be sad.
At the start of the self-recorded three minute and 33 second clip, he rubs his nose and says: ‘As you can all see I am of sound mind and body. Sorry, I took the coward’s way out.
‘Don’t go racking your brains and thinking why I would do this…I’ll tell you why.
‘No woman trouble or anything like that.
‘I am hurting. And disguising a lot of pain.’
Wearing a black Adidas t-shirt and looking intently into the lens with his guns and swords mounted on the wall behind him, he then goes on to discuss how his arthritis ‘is crippling me’.
‘I can’t get up and down the stairs and in and out of the car,’ he says.
‘I am not enjoying it [life] at the moment. That is really it and I don’t want to waste a wicked life that I have had. It has been superb. Any day I can think back on, it was funny and brilliant.’
He said he did not want to waste the ‘wicked life he had’ by spending the rest of it in pain by not taking his own life because he ‘did not want to upset anybody else’.
He added: ‘I am not enjoying it and I do what I want. That really is why I am not here today. Don’t be sad. Please don’t be sad.’
He denied long standing rumours that he had been’ a police grass’ and said he had kept more than 100 friends out of prison due to his police contacts.
In the tree minute and 33 second video Courtney said he wasn’t enjoying it [life] at the moment and was disguising a lot of pain
The gangster’s Camelot Castle home. A Glock pistol was on the bedroom floor with Courtney lying dead on his bed from a gunshot wound
Former London gangster Dave Courtney in Cannes in 2001 to promote two films in which he starred
Courtney in his house ‘Camelot Castle’ in Plumstead in south London
Brendan McGirr, 57, who found Courtney, 64, dead on Sunday morning, recounted the hardman-turned-celebrity’s last moments
Pictures of the ex-gangster’s home show that a number of weapons used to decorate the walls
Breaking out into a laugh, he said he was certain there would be haters and a ‘million people would be writing books saying I s*****d Dave, whatever’.
He then goes to explain in some detail how he was wrongly misunderstood to have been a police informant.
He finally signs off with a smile and a shrug of the shoulders: ‘Um… well… That’s it really.’
The poignant film then stops.
Courtney’s housemate of 32 years Brendan McGirr, 57, had spent what would turn out to be his last evening with him on Saturday watching England lose to South Africa in the Rugby World Cup semi-final before saying goodnight.
Hours later he found him dead with a pillow over his face, with a Glock pistol lying on the floor.
Mr McGirr revealed Courtney’s last known words were him ironically joking about England’s last minute loss, telling his pal ‘that’s typical, I’m going to bed’.
Speaking to MailOnline yesterday, Mr McGirr – who had lived with Courtney for 32 years – said Courtney ‘chose to end his life and be in control… he went out rock ‘n’ roll style’. Another friend standing nearby echoed his thoughts, adding ‘the way Dave went is a celebration’.
Mr McGirr said: ‘Dave watched the rugby with me, we both had a chuckle about England losing in the last minute as usual. I said to him I’m off to bed and he said I’m off to bed too and that was the last thing he said to me.
‘I found his body the next morning and he was at total peace. He made a decision, he controlled his life, he controlled his ending and made the decision.
Courtney and Jodie Marsh at the Scooby Doo 2: Monster’s unleashed film premier in London, 2004
Dave Courtney ‘s daughter Lillie Eliza Berr poses with her father in this candid photograph
Dave Courtney outside his ‘Camelot Castle’ home in October 2022. His friend found him dead in his bed with a pillow over his face
‘He was in exceptional pain so I totally forgive him, totally understand and I am so proud of him for how brave he must have been.’
The hardman – who was the inspiration for Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ Big Chris – had been in high spirits after watching a football match with friends and drinking into the earlier hours of Sunday morning.
But he had been secretly battling cancer while pain from his arthritis riddled his body. His family confirmed he made the decision to ‘stop the ride’.
Mr McGirr is among dozens who have paid tribute to the reformed gangster in the last day, describing him ‘the funniest man I have ever been around’ and lived by the motto ‘live every day like it was your last’.
He added: ‘I’ve seen him do many things that are exceptionally brave. Some people have it – I definitely haven’t, I’m a coward, I told him on the day I met him that I would run-off every time there’s a fight but he still had me as his best mate, so what more can I say?
‘Dave turned his life around from crime to working with charities and understanding younger children with ADHD and helped them. It was probably something he suffered as a kid but no one knew about it then.
‘He realised that the older he got, the pain was not going to subside and he was not going to end up in an old people’s home, he weren’t going to be in a wheelchair and in true rock and roll style, he stopped the ride. He wanted to get off and he stopped his ride.
The hardman – who was the inspiration for Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrel’s Big Chris – ended his life in his famous Camelot Castle pad
Scotland Yard is investigating his ‘unexpected’ death and a heavy police presence remains outside his home today
Police outside Courtney’s London home this morning after he was found dead on Sunday
Dave Courtney spoke about the afterlife and looking forward to having a ‘lie down and a rest’ on a podcast in August
‘If you look at all the tributes there are so many different genres from popstars to porn stars, footballers to politicians, everyone remembers Dave. The only people that didn’t like him, hadn’t met him or he just outwitted them.’
Mr McGirr’s comments came just hours after Courtney’s family confirmed his suicide and his pain living with cancer as well as arthritis.
Tributes poured in for Courtney with model Jodie Marsh revealing how the ‘true gentleman’ bought her a solid gold knuckle duster as a wedding present, saying they ‘ruled’ London together.
While boxer Julius Francis went to his Camelot Castle home to lay flowers in memory of his friend.
Francis said he was ‘gutted’ by the death of his friend and recounted how he gave Courtney a big hug the last time he saw him at an event a couple of months ago.
‘The last time I spoke to him he was happy and smiling. We were at an event and he was the same happy smiley, jovial David only a few months ago,’ he told MaillOnline.
‘He had his health scares and this that and the other but i didn’t know he was ill ill… no indication of that.
‘He gave me a big hug and he smiled and as was happy and laughing and joking as he always was.’
Marsh led the celebrity tributes to the hardman as the bodybuilder and reality TV star revealed she first met Courtney 27 years ago when working at a club in south London.
The 44-year-old called the former gangster a ‘true gentleman’ who bought her a solid gold knuckle duster as a wedding present.
She fondly reminisced on times they ‘partied and laughed and “ruled” London together’ on nights out in the city.
Marsh, who has appeared on Essex Wives and Celebrity Big Brother, said she will ‘miss him so much’ and was ‘utterly devastated’ by his death.
Posting on Facebook, Marsh said she was ‘utterly devastated’ at the news of his death, adding: ‘I will miss him so much’.
Marsh, who now runs an animal rescue centre in Great Dunmow, Essex, wrote: ‘I am utterly devastated. I’ve known Dave Courtney since I was 17 years old. I first met him when I worked at Ministry of Sound in Elephant and Castle.
‘Over the years I’ve had some of the best nights out ever with Dave. And also some of the best parties at my parents house with him.
‘His favourite thing was to get up and sing Blueberry Hill whenever there was karaoke or a band playing.
‘Dave was a true gentleman. On one messy night out, one of my mates threw up all over the cream interior of his brand new Rolls Royce and he simply shrugged and drove us home.
He didn’t even get angry. He just made sure we were safe.
‘Dave was the life and soul of the party, a hilarious comedic genius and a friend to many.
‘I’ve lost count of the times we partied and laughed and ‘ruled’ London together.
‘Dave had no prejudice; he took everyone as he found them.
‘When I got married, my wedding present from him was a solid gold knuckle duster.
‘Dave was one of a kind and I will miss him so much. RIP Dave you legend. Until we meet again.’