Dave Courtney

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Dave Courtney
Rob Ferguson and Dave Courtney, 2003.png
Courtney (right) in 2003 with Rob Ferguson
David John Courtney

(1959-02-17) 17 February 1959 (age 60)
Bermondsey, London, England
EducationGangster, author, actor
WebsiteOfficial website

David John Courtney[1] (born 17 February 1959) is an English self-proclaimed former gangster[2] who has become both an author[3] and celebrity.[4]

Author Bernard O'Mahoney and Frankie Fraser (the former member of the Richardson gang) have accused Courtney of embellishing and fabricating his criminal record and position in the underworld; however, Courtney has denied overstating his past.[5][6]

Personal life[edit]

Courtney was born in Bermondsey, London[7] to Teresa (née Dargan) and Patrick W J Courtney, who married in 1954 in Camberwell.

Courtney often focuses on his links with gangsters such as Reggie Kray[8] and Lenny McLean,[9] although in the case of the former, he was nine years old when Kray was imprisoned. Courtney has claimed to have been shot,[10] stabbed, had his nose bitten off, and stated that he has had to kill to stay alive.[10] He 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.[11]

He often refers to himself as Dave Courtney OBE for "One Big Ego". His house in Plumstead, called 'Camelot Castle', is decorated with union flags and the cross of St George, a painted depiction of himself as a knight and a large knuckle duster.[12][13]

Courtney claims to have been involved in debt-collecting, minding clubs,[14] assault, contraband, and murder.[15] He also claims he has spent time in Belmarsh Prison as a high security prisoner,[16] which has been backed up by ex-prison guard Jim Dawkins in his book "The Loose Screw".[17]

In his book F**k the Ride, Courtney claims to have been found not guilty in 19 separate trials. He has cultivated a reputation for using the knuckle duster when debt-collecting and was known as "The Yellow Pages of the Underworld".[citation needed]


Courtney is now an author,[18] having had six books published: Stop The Ride I Want to Get Off,[10] Raving Lunacy,[14] Dodgy Dave's Little Black Book,[19] The Ride's Back On,[16] F**k the Ride,[20] and Heroes & Villains.[21]

He starred in and produced his own film, Hell To Pay, and took on the leading role of Mad Dave opposite Manish Patel in low-budget British film Triads, Yardies and Onion Bhajees. However, Courtney is probably best known for organising the security at gangster Ronnie Kray's funeral in 1995.[citation needed] Courtney has claimed to be the inspiration for Vinnie Jones's debt-collecting hard man in the movie Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.[22]


Largely making a living from television documentaries[23] 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. Courtney was featured in the 2008 film The Dead Sleep Easy, filmed on location in Mexico.[citation needed]

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',[24] Courtney stars in the lead role, playing the part of notorious gangster, Dave Bishop.[citation needed]

Legal cases[edit]

In June 2004, The Sun newspaper reported that Courtney had been cleared of beating his girlfriend Jennifer Lucrea Pinto during a row over her lesbian lover.[25][26]

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."[27]

In May 2009, Courtney filed for bankruptcy, reportedly owing £400,000 to creditors, including taxes of £250,000.[12]

On 29 July 2009, he was arrested and charged[28] 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.[29] The Brocock pistol was previously legal as an air-weapon (and would then have been legal for Courtney to possess) but police concerns over the "ease" with which they can be converted into cartridge-firing firearms led to a ban on this specific design.[30] 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.[31]

In popular culture[edit]

  • 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).
  • MC Jennybean recorded the song "Who Is He?" about 'Dodgy Dave'.
  • 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.[32]
  • He made several appearances on Channel 5 show The People vs. Jerry Sadowitz.
  • He was featured on Huang's World London episode part 2.


  • 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; Dave Courtney (2008). The British Crime and Prison Quiz Book. Foreword by Charles Bronson. Apex. ISBN 1-906358-01-X.



  1. ^ "The Ride's Back on". google.co.uk. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  2. ^ "Dave Courtney reformed gangster avoids jail possessing single bullet". Bristol Post. Archived from the original on 7 May 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  3. ^ metrowebukmetro. "Author Dave Courtney's guns 'were his wife's'". Metro. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  4. ^ "Dave Courtney Interview". ViewLondon. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  5. ^ Video on YouTube
  6. ^ "Bing". videosurf.com. Archived from the original on 10 March 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  7. ^ "Sunday Sun". nechronicle. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  8. ^ "BBC News - UK - Reggie Kray dies". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  9. ^ "Facebook". facebook.com. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  10. ^ a b c Stop The Ride
  11. ^ "Gangster News". thekrays.co.uk. Archived from the original on 20 December 2002. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  12. ^ a b Tax debt catches up with gangster Archived 22 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Accountancy Age, 21 May 2009.
  13. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  14. ^ a b Raving Lunacy
  15. ^ Video on YouTube
  16. ^ a b The Ride's Back On
  17. ^ Jim Dawkins; Dave Courtney (2007). The Loose Screw. Foreword by Charles Bronson. Apex. ISBN 1-904444-61-X.
  18. ^ "Dave Courtney". randomhouse.co.uk. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  19. ^ Dodgy Dave's Little Black Book
  20. ^ F**k the Ride
  21. ^ Heroes & Villains
  22. ^ "The Ride's Back On: Amazon.co.uk: Dave Courtney OBE: 9780753508602: Books". amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  23. ^ Brit Movie Archived 27 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Dave Courtney's Full English Breakfast Movie".
  25. ^ "Crook is in the clear". The Sun. 12 June 2004.
  26. ^ "Statement of JENNIFER LUCREA PINTO". bernardomahoney.com. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  27. ^ "Reformed gangster Dave Courtney escapes jail". Bristol Evening Post. 20 January 2009. Archived from the original on 7 May 2009.
  28. ^ "Author and film-maker denies illegal weapons charges". BBC online. 9 December 2009.
  29. ^ "Facebook". Facebook. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  30. ^ Air gun laws#United Kingdom
  31. ^ "Author cleared of weapons charges". BBC.co.uk. 10 December 2009.
  32. ^ "Brainiac: Science Abuse - Season 1, Episode 4: Episode 4 - TV.com". TV.com. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 19 August 2015.

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