Celeb gangster Dave Courtney ‘took own life after battle with cancer and arthritis,’ his family say as police probe death

23 October 2023, 11:50 | Updated: 23 October 2023, 11:58

Dave Courtney was found dead at his home in south east London
Dave Courtney was found dead at his home in south east London. Picture: Social Media/Getty

By Asher McShane

Ex-gangster Dave Courtney was battling cancer and struggled with arthritis when he took his own life, his family have said.

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He was found dead at his Camelot Castle home in south east London yesterday.

It emerged earlier that police were looking into his death after he was found shot ‘with a pillow over his head’.

But his family have now disclosed that he had been secretly battling cancer and was in pain from the disease and arthritis.

His family said in a statement this morning: "On October 22 Dave made the decision to 'stop the ride'.

"He had lived an incredible, colourful rock n roll life 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.

"So, rather than be a burden to his family and friends, he chose to 'stop the ride' and take his way out.

"In his own immortal words, 'stop the ride, I want to get off'."

Just one day before his death he posted how he enjoyed watching Charlton Athletic beat Reading 4-0 in a League One match.

He posted online: “At Charlton today. Full works today three course meal.

“And what a cool cool day it’s all turning out to be.”

A source told The Sun Dave’s lodger found him “in bed with a pillow placed across his face and he had been shot in the head.

“The first impression was that he had taken his own life. But the police have to be certain and are investigating.’’

His death was announced in a post on his social media accounts, as it read: "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."

The statement said details of his funeral would be announced in “due course”.

“His family ask for respect during this period of mourning,” it added.

The ex-London gangster was known for claiming to have links to the criminal Kray twins.

Although he was just nine years old when the criminal duo were jailed, he claimed to have arranged the security for Ronnie Kray’s funeral in 1995.

He also alleged he was the target of multiple murder attempts and that he inspired Vinnie Jones’ character in the film Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels.

Read more: ‘A hero to millions’: Tributes pour in as Sir Bobby Charlton, England World Cup hero, dies aged 86

Read more: Legendary political cartoonist dies after heart attack on bridge

Dave Courtney went on to become an actor and author.
Dave Courtney went on to become an actor and author. Picture: Alamy

It comes after Courtney was last pictured on Saturday watching his football team Charlton in a League One match and sharing a meal with friends.

The ex-gangster shared photos of himself beaming with friends at the match, captioned: “An wat a cool cool day it's all turning out to be.”

Ms Wellcome, 68, Courtney’s neighbour said the news of his death was “so sad”.

“I just can't believe I'm never going to see him again. It's so sad,” she told The Sun.

“He seemed happy. He’d just got his driving licence back and was getting a new Peugeot which he was really excited about.”

Courtney shared a photo of himself at the match on Saturday.
Courtney shared a photo of himself at the match on Saturday. Picture: Facebook

Courtney traded in his life of crime to pursue an acting career and become an author.

He featured in crime documentaries and low-budget gangster films and penned six books, where he claimed to have been found not guilty in 19 separate trials.

The Metropolitan Police said officers attended an address on Chestnut Rise at around 11.25am following reports of a man found dead, who was found dead at the scene.

His family has been informed.

Formal identification has not taken place, and the death is currently being treated as unexpected and is under investigation. No arrests have been made, the Met Police added.

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK.

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