One of Britain’s most notorious East End gangsters Dave Courtney has been found dead at his home.
The 64-year-old was famously affiliated with London hardmen the Kray brothers, Roy Shaw and Lenny McLean. This evening, a statement released on Courtney’s social media said he took his own life “with a firearm”.
It reads: “It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Dave Courtney at the age of 64. Dave tragically took his own life in the early hours of Sunday 22nd October, with a firearm at his Camelot Castle home in Plumstead. Details about funeral arrangements will be provided in due course. His family ask for respect during this period of mourning.”
Met Police say they were called to an address on Chestnut Rise in Plumstead at around 11:25am today (22 October), after reports of a man found dead. A 64-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene, with the death being treated as unexpected and under investigation.
Inside ex-gangster Dave Courtney’s incredible ‘castle’ where swords line the walls
Courtney lays claim to having arranged the security for Ronnie Kray’s funeral in 1995 – despite only being 9 when one of the UK’s most notorious criminal double acts were locked up. Throughout an eventful criminal career Courtney claims to have been shot, stabbed and had his nose nearly bitten off before it was sewed back on.
Just yesterday he posted on Facebook after a hospitality visit to Charlton Athletic. A smiling Courtney wrote: “At Charlton today . Full works today three course meal and our man James company is Sponser for the game. Billingham communications ……… an wat a cool cool day it’s all turning out to be.”
The Bermondsey-born Plumstead resident first became infamous as a debt collector – who often wore a brutal knuckle-duster. Courtney claims he has been found not guilty in a whopping 19 different trials – but was once convicted of possessing live ammunition in January 2009.
The hard-nosed criminal later turned to acting when he assumed roles in a number of low-budget London gangster films – including Hell To Pay which produced, directed and starred in. Courtney acted in other films including Six Bend Trapp, Clubbing to Death and The Dead Sleep Easy.
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.”
A friend of Courtney’s Manny Clark wrote on Facebook: “My heart goes out to his family, especially his poor Mum who is in her 90s and Davey boy was her world.” Internet celebrity Castillo wrote simply: “RIP Dave Courtney, legend brav”.
Courtney was cleared of attacking wife Jennifer Pinto in 2004, after she allegedly had an affair with another woman. In 2000, he was also cleared of being a member of a plot to plant cocaine on an innocent woman.
In the trial, he was named as ‘Tommy Mack’, a registered police informant. But Courtney insists he has “never been a grass” and that he was trying to take advantage of the system – to disguise his relationship with a corrupt detective.
Courtney was the owner of Camelot Castle, a sprawling white mansion with guns, swords and suits of armour – apparently fake – which he showed to MyLondon. The ‘castle’ even included a bust of his own head and paintings of Dave, such as one where he has angel wings and a halo in the front room.
Heartbreaking last images show smiling ex-gangster Dave Courtney enjoying the football
In an explanation, he said: “I have got this ego. I can’t deny it. I’m an entertainer. It’s more important to me than anything criminal.” He often refers to himself as Dave Courtney OBE – standing not for Order of the British Empire, but for One Big Ego. “It states in the law books it becomes an offence to call yourself an OBE if you don’t own one. But I do own one. My own friends ask what was the Queen like!” Dave said at the time.
His mansion was once a school, and stands separate from the residential street it sits on. With gold lion paintings, Union Jacks, a sniper statue and a replica of King Arthur’s Sword in Stone, it showed Courtney felt pride in the country he called home. A royalist, he queued for 13 hours with his mother to see the late Queen lying-in-state.
Author Martin Knight wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “I interviewed Dave Courtney at his interesting home some months ago in connection with a book I was working on. He was eccentric, charming & very funny. Shocked & saddened to hear the tragic news today.”
A Metropolitan Police spokesperson told the Mirror: “Police were called at about 11:25hrs on Sunday, 22 October to a residential address on Chestnut Rise, SE18 following reports of a man found deceased.
“Officers and the London Ambulance Service attended. A 64-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene. His family has been informed. Formal identification has not taken place. The death is currently being treated as unexpected and is under investigation. There have been no arrests.”
You don’t have to suffer in silence if you’re struggling with your mental health. Here are some groups you can contact when you need help.
Samaritans: Phone 116 123, 24 hours a day, or email [email protected] in confidence
Childline: Phone 0800 1111. Calls are free and won’t show up on your bill
PAPYRUS: For teens and young adults. Phone 0800 068 4141
Depression Alliance: The charity offers useful resources for people struggling.
Students Against Depression: For students who are depressed, have low mood, or are suicidal.
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM): Phone 0800 58 58 58. For young men who are feeling unhappy.
For information on your local NHS urgent mental health helpline, visit here