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  Dodgy' Dave says it was just a wicked plot - Kentish Times December 21, 2000
  One of the most complex and colourful Old Bailey cases for years

In the relative safety of his Drum, 'Dodgy' Dave Courtney celebrated his innocence with his girlfriend Jennifer Pinto and explained how he became a central character in one of the most complex and colourful Old Bailey cases for years.

The man whose criminal reputation inspired the blockbuster Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels has made an ordinary house in Plumstead into his personal Camelot Castle, an extraordinary creation of unusual art depicting him as the hero of the hour.

And when the Kentish Times interviewed him at the heart of his self-made kingdom, he played the role of wronged crusader to perfection.

The Old Bailey had been told that dear old Dave was a 'grass' - a police informant, who had been involved in a polt to plant drugs on a woman so that her estranged husband could have custody of their child.

At the heart of the case was Bexley Heath Constable Austin Warnes, 47, who was jailed for four years after admitting perverting the course of justice.

Warnes had conspired with Surrey private eye Jonathon Rees 45, to plant 15 grames of Cocaine in the car of former model Kim James, 29, on behalf of her husband Simon James. Rees and Simon James.

Rees and Simon James were jailed for six years each after being found guilty by the jury.

But there was a loud cheer from the public gallery when the jury of seven men and five women acquitted 41 year old Mr Courtney of any invlovement and he went home to Plumstead without another stain on his considerably stained character.

The gangster-turned-author, who wrote the best seller Stop the Ride I want to get off, and handled Ronnie Kray's funeral arrangements in 1995, had gone to court dressed as a court jester because he felt the case against him was a judicial joke.

Back at Camelot Castle, he was the proverbial black cat with the cream. His mind was buzzing with stories, as you would expect from a man who says he is off to shoot a movie with Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino next month.

"It only took the jury four minutes to find me not guilty of perverting the course of justice." He smiled, relaxing in the smoke from his unloaded Havana cigar.

"The police thought they were going to expose me as a grass. They knew I had nothing to do with the case with the girl.

"They wanted to fit me up as a grass so in my world that means I would get shot.

"I didn't jump up and down with delight when I was given the 'not guilty' verdict vecause I knew, one I didn't have anything to do with the case and, secondly, I knew I wasn't a grass."

In other words, he was being dreadfully miscast in a script not of his making.

Warming to his theme, Dave added: "There were two cases going on for me. The one in front of the jury but more importantly the one going on in the public gallery with my friends."

Glancing briefly at a wonderfully entertaining mural of him on a horse with his partner Jennifer playing the recused damsel, he explained: "By branding me a grass, the police thought the mud would stick.

"I was told by a serving officer that the police didnŐt want me put in prison because I would become a martyr - another one everyone would be campaigning to free.

"But they did something worse. They tried to get me shot by naming me as an informer."

As for Warnes, the disgraced detective, Dave has little of his precious time.

"I knew he didn't like me and he knew I didnŐt like him." He said. "He didn't like me being popular."

So how does he feel about the boys in blue, now that the case is behind him?

"I am not a police hater," he adds seriously. "I honestly think the Met is the best police force in the world but it is corrupt.

"The more people you employ, the less you control. The Met have now relaxed rules about the height and made the intelligence test easier because they need police so people are being nicked by divvy midgets."

It was the sort of gag that would probably have ended up on the cutting room floor but Dave had plenty more up his beautifully tailored sleeves. "Until I went to court I had never clapped eyes on any of those people apart from Austin Warnes.

" Since he has turned into something of a legend, Dave says he no longer breaks the law.

He adds: "I am no longer involved in crime, although I do associate in the criminal underwolrd and in that world all you have is your reputation."

Quite so, Dave.