Notorious gangsters like Dave Courtney who turned back on crime to become priests, meet the Queen… and raise soap stars | The Sun

GETTING out of the criminal underworld can be dangerous in itself, but ex-hardman Dave Courtney found fame and fortune by going 'straight'.

In his life as an East London mobster, the Kray Twins associate – who was found dead this week aged 64-claimed to have killed multiple people, enforced gang laws and even beat a rival up while they had a tanning session on a sunbed.

But after telling pals he had reformed, he found a new career as an actor with roles in Sid Bend Trap and Clubbing to Death, as well as penning six books and appearing in several TV documentaries

Here, we look at other former gangsters who decided to live a more normal life within the law.

John Pridmore

Growing up in East London, Pridmore, 59, turned to stealing as a teenager before becoming a gangster, specialising in protection rackets and as an enforcer.

He claimed at his gangland height in the 1990s he was earning “more money than he knew how to spend” thanks to the booming drugs trade.

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The ex-gangster turned his life around and found God after almost killing a man outside a nightclub in a bid to impress a new criminal outfit.

Pridmore claimed he felt no remorse, and it led him to question how he lived his life, resulting in him letting God in and becoming a devout Catholic.

Now, he is a pastor and spends his time travelling the world sharing his redemption story.

He has also written two books, From Gangland to Promised Land and Journey to Freedom, about his life in the criminal underworld and move to an ordinary life.

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Bobby Cummines

Bobby Cummines was awarded an OBE from the Queen after reforming

At just 16, Cummines became the youngest armed robber to be arrested in British history.

His passion for violence continued and as an adult, he ran a fearsome firm of hitmen and racketeers. The brutal criminal was known throughout London for his sawn-off double-barrel shotgun, named “Kennedy” after JFK.

Cummines, 71, has never called himself a gangster, instead preferring to brand himself as a “businessman whose business was crime.”

During his jail stint in the 1970s and 80s, where he was sent for manslaughter, he was convinced by former gangster and torture gang member Charlie Richardson to turn his life around.

While in Pankhurst Prison, Cummines earned an Open University degree. Upon his release in 1987, he decided to help other offenders repent by working with Unlock, the National Association of Reformed Offenders.

He has since been awarded an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II and has also written an autobiography. His net worth is reported at approximately £1.5million to £5million.

Linda Calvey

Calvey, 75, first became involved in the criminal underworld after marrying her first husband, Mickey Calvey, when she was just 22.

He was just out of jail for armed robbery, and she began assisting him and his pals with their work, including as a getaway driver.

Mickey was later killed by cops and Calvey was pictured as a grieving widow by the press, when in reality she was establishing a fearsome reputation for herself.

She became known as the “Black Widow” as her husbands and lovers either died or ended up in prison.

In 1988, she paid criminal associate Daniel Reece £10,000 to kill her then lover Ronnie Cook, but when he failed to do it, she shot Cook twice. Calvey has denied the killing.

It landed her in prison for 18 and a half years, alongside notorious criminals including Rose West and Myra Hindley.

She later married Daniel Reece in prison.

Since being released in 2008, she has become a criminal fiction author. He books include The Game, The Locksmith, and Faith.

Calvey claims that her former life as a feared gangster seems “surreal” and that she feels like she is “looking back on the life of somebody else”.

Freddie Foreman

Foreman, 91, was known as the Godfather of London and nicknamed “Brown Bread Fred” – as brown bread was cockney rhyming slang for dead – due to his violent antics.

He was a prominent gangland member from the 1950s until the 1980s and worked for the Kray Twin's gang The Firm – as well as being a pub landlord.

The dad-of-threewas involved in the disposal of Jack “the Hat” McVitie and was handed a ten-year prison sentence as a result.

He was sent back to jail for handling proceeds from the Security Express robbery, which was, at the time, the largest cash snatch in the UK.

Foreman was acquitted for the murders of Frank “Mad Axeman” Mitchell and Tommy “Ginger” Marks in the 1960s but admitted in his autobiography that he had killed them.

Foreman has since claimed that working with the twins is his “biggest regret” and branded them the “curse of my life”, in an interview with The Sun.

He claims he can't stand the violence of the younger generations, and reckons they have “no respect” for each other.

Foreman has kept his children out of a life of crime, and his son Jamie Foreman has become a soap star, best known for playing EastEnders' Derek Branning in 2012 and 2013.

Jimmy Holmes

Holmes entered the criminal underworld as a debt collector before coming under the tutelage of Bernie Silver – a crime boss and pornographer.

He then moved to operate in Canning Town during the 1980s and was said to enjoy hurting people.

During his bloody days in London, he teamed up with syndicate chief David Hunt, but the pair fell out over money and territory, leaving Holmes to flee to the US.

In a bid to return home, Holmes ended up offering police information on his former associate, including drug trafficking, alleged contract killings and prostitution.

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He allegedly carried out the contract killing of Maxine Arnold and Terry Gooderham, which has remained unsolved, with Hunt before their falling out.

Holmes now earns a living as a novelist. His debut book, Judas Pig, was released in 2004 and is thought to be a thinly-veiled version of his life in gangland London.

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