Dave Courtney: Ex-gangster who 'had links to Kray twins' dies aged 64

Tributes are being paid to former gangster-turned-author and actor Dave Courtney, who has been found dead at his home.

The 64-year-old, who claimed to be an associate of 1960s gangland criminals the Kray twins, was found in Plumstead, southeast London, on Sunday after having reportedly shot himself.

The Metropolitan Police said his death is currently being treated as unexpected and is under investigation.

His family paid tribute to his "incredible, colourful, rock 'n' roll life" and how he had experienced the "pain of both cancer and arthritis in his later years".

In a statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, the family said: "On October 22 2023, Dave made the decision to 'stop the ride'.

"He had lived an incredible, colourful, rock 'n' roll life in which he touched the hearts of so many.

"The physical pain of living the lifestyle he chose, especially due to the pain of both cancer and arthritis in his later years, became too much."

According to his Facebook page, he spent Saturday watching his football team Charlton at The Valley stadium.

Pictures showed him watching on as they beat Reading 4-0 in a League One match, and enjoying a meal with friends.

Courtney was known for claiming to have links to Britain's notorious criminal Kray twins and arranging security for Ronnie Kray's funeral, though he would only have been a child when they were convicted.

He also said he had been the target of murder attempts, including being shot and stabbed during his time in the criminal underworld.

Courtney said his exploits had inspired Vinnie Jones's character in the film Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, which brought the former football hardman to the attention of Hollywood.

Courtney would himself pursue a screen career, appearing in crime documentaries and low-budget gangster films.

He also wrote several books, including one in which he claimed to have been found not guilty in 19 separate trials.

One in June 2004 saw him cleared of attacking his wife during a row about an affair.

In another in 2009, he was cleared by a jury of possessing a firearm.

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Courtney's Plumstead home has itself been something of a local landmark.

Dubbed Camelot Castle, it's reportedly decorated with fake guns, swords, and suits of armour, a bust of Courtney, numerous pictures of the late Queen, a jacuzzi, gold lion paintings, Union Jacks, and a statue of a sniper.

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.