Courtney (right) in 2003 with Rob Ferguson
17 February 1959 |
Bermondsey, London, England
|Education||Forest Hill Comprehensive|
Dave Courtney (born 17 February 1959) is an English former gangster who has become both an author and celebrity-gangster figure. Author Bernard O'Mahoney and the former member of the Richardson gang Frankie Fraser have accused Courtney of embellishing and fabricating his criminal record and position in the underworld; however, Courtney has denied overstating his past.
Born in Bermondsey, London, Courtney often focuses on his links with gangsters such as Reggie Kray and Lenny McLean, though in the case of the former, he was nine years old when Kray was imprisoned. Courtney has claimed to have been shot, stabbed, had his nose bitten off, and stated that he has had to kill to stay alive himself. He also makes the claim that his involvement in a car crash on the M20 was an attempt by "someone who had a grudge against him" to kill him.
He often refers to himself as Dave Courtney OBE–"One Big Ego"–but is not an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. His house in south London, called 'Camelot', is decorated with union flags, a painted depiction of himself as a knight and a large knuckle duster.
Courtney claims to have been involved in debt-collecting, minding clubs, assault, contraband, and murder. He also claims he has spent time in Belmarsh Prison as a high security prisoner, which has been backed up by ex-prison guard Jim Dawkins in his book "The Loose Screw". In his book F**k the Ride, Courtney claims to have been found not guilty in 19 separate trials. Dave has cultivated a reputation for using the knuckle duster when debt-collecting and was known as "The Yellow Pages of the Underworld".
Courtney is now an author, having had six books published: Stop The Ride I Want to Get Off, Raving Lunacy, Dodgy Dave's Little Black Book, The Ride's Back On, F**k the Ride, and Heroes & Villains. He has also starred in and produced his own film, Hell To Pay, and took on the leading role of Mad Dave opposite Manish Patel in cult British film Triads, Yardies and Onion Bhajees. However, Dave is probably best known for organising the security at gangster Ronnie Kray's funeral in 1995. Courtney has claimed to be the inspiration for Vinnie Jones's debt-collecting hard man in the movie Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Largely making a living from television documentaries and personal appearances, Courtney ran his own website, was involved in charity work, and worked on the films Six Bend Trap and Clubbing To Death alongside Craig Charles and Nick Moran. He is also featured in the 2008 film The Dead Sleep Easy, filmed on location in Mexico. He has worked with Director Liam Galvin on 2 DVDs – Dave Courtney's Dodgy DVD and Dave Courtney Even Dodgier – both released by Gangster Videos. He collaborated again with Liam Galvin on the 2010 film Killer Bitch. In his latest movie 'Full English Breakfast', Courtney stars in the lead role, playing the part of notorious gangster, Dave Bishop.
In June 2004, The Sun newspaper reported that Courtney had been cleared of beating his wife during a row over her lesbian lover.
In January 2009 he was given an 18 month conditional discharge at Bristol Crown Court, on a charge of possessing live ammunition without a firearms certificate. His defence of not knowing that the single live pistol round was live rather than a stage prop prompted Judge Ticehurst to comment, "It perhaps undermines your street credibility and your stage performance that you cannot distinguish between a real round and a fake round. But perhaps that's not for me to say."
In May 2009 he was made bankrupt, owing £400,000 to creditors, including taxes of £250,000.
On 29 July 2009, he was arrested and charged with possession of a prohibited weapon, specifically a Brocock Air Cartridge pistol, and possession of a firearm whilst being a prohibited person. He was sent in custody to Woolwich Crown Court for trial. Although the Brocock pistol was previously legal as an air-weapon (and would then have been legal for Courtney to possess), past police concerns (unconnected to Courtney) over the "ease" with which they might be converted as cartridge-firing firearms led to a ban on this specific design. Courtney was on remand in HMP Belmarsh, concerning the aforementioned Firearms offences. On 10 December 2009, Courtney was cleared after the jury took two hours to find him not guilty on all charges.
In Popular Culture
- In 1990, he had a small role in the gangster movie The Krays.
- In 1999, he addressed the Oxford Union Society at a meeting of the student debating society.
- In 2000, Courtney was profiled in a three-part observational documentary series called Dave Courtney's Underworld, produced for Channel Five. The series followed the launch of Courtney's celebrity career, as well as his trial for involvement in a police corruption case. The series ends with Courtney being found 'not guilty' and his celebrations with friends. The story of the making of the series is featured in Courtney's book The Ride's Back On.
- In 2003, California punk rock band Rancid featured a song entitled "David Courtney" on their 6th release, Indestructible.
- Artist Tricky samples him on the song "Dave Courtney", which appears on the album Product of the Environment (featuring a number of British gangsters).
- He performs the spoken intro and outro to the song "Hell 2 Pay" by Oi! band The Business.
- He recorded a version of "I Fought The Law" with Scottish pop-punks Mute in 2001 which gave himself and the band exposure in the daily tabloids. The song re-written by Mute frontman Jay Burnett (now with Wendigo) is a hybrid of the original Sonny Curtis track and the more recent story regarding Dave Courtney's infamous court case featured in Stop The Ride.
- He is currently involved with various movie projects in the UK, and in 2005 became involved in a development deal with a California film and television production company. He continues to perform his Audience with.. events.
- He was featured on the UK science show Brainiac: Science Abuse where he was enlisted to attempt to break into an "unbreakable" safe. He did not succeed.
- He made several appearances on Channel 5 show The People vs. Jerry Sadowitz.
- Dave Courtney (1999). Stop the Ride I Want to Get Off. Virgin Publishing. ISBN 0-7535-0462-6.
- — (2000). Raving Lunacy. Virgin Publishing. ISBN 0-7535-0504-5.
- — (2001). Dodgy Dave's Little Black Book. Virgin Books. ISBN 0-7535-0685-8.
- — (2003). The Ride's Back On. Virgin Books. ISBN 0-7535-0860-5.
- — (2005). F**k the Ride. Virgin Books. ISBN 1-85227-227-9.
- — (2006). Heroes & Villains. Virgin Books. ISBN 0-7535-1177-0.
- Jim Dawkins, Charles Bronson (foreword), Dave Courtney (2008). The British Crime and Prison Quiz Book. Apex. ISBN 1-906358-01-X.
- Full English Breakfast (2014) ... EnglishBreakfastSociety.com
- Fraud (2011) ... Vice.com
- Killer Bitch (2010) ... Dave
- The Dead Sleep Easy (2008) ... Tlaloc
- Clubbing to Death (2007) ... Harry Dench
- Six Bend Trap (2006) ... Gordy Metcalf
- Hell to Pay (2005) ... Dave Malone
- The Baby Juice Express (2004) ... Baxter
- Triads, Yardies and Onion Bhajees (2003) ... Mad Dave
- Dave Courtney's Underworld (Documentary) (2000) ... Himself
- One in Something (1999) ... Judge
- The Krays (1990) ... Bill
- This Is Bristol
- The Metro
- View London
- Video Surf
- Sunday Sun
- BBC News
- Stop The Ride
- The Krays
- Tax debt catches up with gangster, Accountancy Age, 21 May 2009
- Google Streetview, Camelot
- Raving Lunacy
- The Ride's Back On
- Jim Dawkins, Charles Bronson (foreword), Dave Courtney (2007). The Loose Screw. Apex. ISBN 1-904444-61-X.
- Random House
- Dodgy Dave's Little Black Book
- F**k the Ride
- Heroes & Villains
- Brit Movie
- "British Council: The British Films Catalogue".
- "Dave Courtney's Full English Breakfast Movie".
- "Crook is in the clear". The Sun. 12 June 2004.
- "Reformed gangster Dave Courtney escapes jail". Bristol Evening Post. 20 January 2009.
- "Author and film-maker denies illegal weapons charges". BBC online. 9 December 2009.
- Air gun laws#United Kingdom
- "Author cleared of weapons charges". BBC online. 10 December 2009.
- Brainiac: Science Abuse: Episode 4 at TV.com