Dave Courtney’s health battle revealed as family say ex-gangster decided to ‘stop the ride’ before taking his own life | The Sun
REFORMED gangster Dave Courtney took his own life after deciding to "stop the ride", his family said today.
The flamboyant former crime kingpin, 64, was found dead at his South London home yesterday.
His family today said he had lived an "incredible" life but couldn't cope with the "pain" of living the lifestyle he chose.
They also revealed Dave had struggled with cancer and arthritis in his later years and said it was time "to get off".
A family statement given to The Sun read: "On 22nd October 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.
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"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.
"He chose to ‘stop the ride’.
"In his own immortal words ‘stop the ride, I want to get off’."
An acquaintance told The Sun the former gangster had been suffering from bowel cancer.
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They said: "He could not take the pain anymore."
The Liverpool man, who often visited Dave's home, said it was an eccentric address to say the least.
They added: "He had all these replica firearms and other weapons which he hired out to film companies."
Dave had claimed Brad Pitt once stayed the night at his home when he was in the UK filming gangster flick Snatch.
His death came just hours after he spent the day with friends watching Charlton Athletic thump Reading 4-0 in a League One match.
The flamboyant former crime kingpin, who wrote six books and appeared in films and documentaries, shared snaps on Facebook.
One pal said: “They stayed up until 4am drinking and went to bed. At around 11am his lodger and friend Brendan went to look in Dave’s bedroom because it was very quiet.
“The first impression was that he had taken his own life. But the police have to be certain and are investigating.’’
Dave's Plumstead home became famous locally and was nicknamed Camelot Castle due to its appearance.
Inside, huge murals showed him wearing armour and sitting astride a war horse.
Teary neighbour Sheila Wellcome, 68, told The Sun: “I saw Dave at around 8pm.
“We knew Dave was in a lot of pain from terrible arthritis. He could barely roll a cigarette.
“But he seemed in good spirits. I passed him a cigarette over the wall and he was laughing and joking.”
She said Dave owned around 12 decommissioned firearms.
She added: “Police used to come round and check on them occasionally. To Dave, they were just ornaments.”
Market trader pal Chris Collins, 52, laid flowers at the scene.
He said: “The world is a worse place today having lost Dave.
“He had the scariest phone book this side of the moon, let me tell you — but he was an absolute gentleman. He didn’t want to miss out on a minute of life. He was frightened of missing out.”
Dave is rumoured to be the inspiration behind Vinnie Jones’s character in Guy Ritchie’s gangster film Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels.
He claimed to have links with gangland legends such as Reggie Kray and Lenny McLean — and organised security at Ronnie Kray’s funeral in 1995.
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But Essex Boys associate Bernard O’Mahoney and Frankie Fraser, a former member of the feared Richardson gang of the 1960s, accused Courtney of fabricating and embellishing his past.
The Metropolitan Police said the death is currently being treated as unexpected and is under investigation.
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EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
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That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.
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If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
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