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  Real Life - News of the World November 24, 2001
  Gang-star Dave Courtney revels what made him become a reformed character.

As they left a South London pub, East End villain Dave Courtney and his pals were about to have their chat cut tragically short.

And for Dave, best known for organising the security at gangster Ronnie Kray's funeral in 1995, it meant leaving his old life behind.

"We had our backs to the Old Kent Road and a car pulled up behind us and a man got out", recalls Dave, the inspiration for Vinnie Jones's debt collecting hard man in the movie Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels.

"He put a gun to the base of my mate's spine and shot him. It made me instantly realise it doesn't matter who, what, or how big you are, somebody can come along and wipe you out. It frightened me and is the driving force behind me going straight" Dave's new life is profiled in ITV's Celebrity Villain: Real life, a fly-on-the-wall glimpse into the first 18 months of his second career.

Dave, 42, grew up with all the hallmarks of a Villain - a history of breaking into factories, stealing cars and fighting at football games. He soon put his talents to work as a debt collector and gang boss and at one stage had more than 500 bouncers working for him.

Although he has beaten murder charges, Dave admits to having killed people, and was sent to prison in the early Eighties following a knife fight with five other men.

Home for Dave is the South London mansion he shares with his partner Jenny. They met 13 years ago when she already had two children and they now have a daughter together. "If he was bad for my kids, I promise you he wouldnÕt be there," says Jenny.

"Now that Dave's decided to go straight, and the worry's not there any more, I'm much happier".

Despite his attempts to "Go Straight", including penning three books and starring in a film DaveÕs past caught up with him in 1999 when he was arrested for conspiracy to prevent the course of justice.

Dave had been named by a CORRUPT POLICEMAN as the main informer in the conspiracy case, involving a husband who had tried to frame his estranged wife for drug dealing.

But thanks to police internal affairs already keeping tabs on the cop, Dave neednÕt have worried. He was cleared of the charge and was quick to make sure everyone knew that he was no GRASS.

And who would dare suggest otherwise.