‘I didn’t know they could fly’: Ex-gangster Dave Courtney apologises as ‘fly-away’ peacock runs amok in Plumstead

The Plumstead Peacock in all its glory  (Instagram)
The Plumstead Peacock in all its glory (Instagram)

A former gangster turned actor has apologised to neighbours after his massive peacock escaped his garden and has been running amok in a south London neighbourhood ever since.

David Courtney, 63, said he was given the bird, now dubbed “The Plumstead Peacock”, as a gift from a breeder who also specialises in llamas.

He built a special 12-foot-high fence enclosure but moments after bringing him home the peacock flew out of the roofless coop with the actor admitting: “I didn’t know they could fly.”

Neighbours have complained of the peafowl waking them up at 4am with his mating call, appearing on top of people’s roofs, cars, gardens and hiding up trees after fleeing Mr Courney’s purpose-built enclosure at his home, called “Camelot Castle”, last month.

He told The Standard: “I know I’ll probably sound like a bit of a d***head but I didn’t know they could fly. I thought it was like a chicken or something.

“I had him in [the enclosure] for about five minutes and then he flew off, I thought ‘You b*****d’.”

Hard man: former gangster Dave Courtney has now become an actor
Hard man: former gangster Dave Courtney has now become an actor

Mr Courtney, who has starred in gangster flicks The Dead Sleep Easy and Clubbing To Death and claims to have been the model for Vinnie Jones’s role in Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, has now offered a reward for its safe return.

He sees it in the neighbourhood at least twice a day but the peacock constantly evades him and the large fishermen’s keep net he has bought to catch him.

Mr Courtney added: “He was stunning but it seems like he would rather live 20 doors up. He keeps jumping from garden to garden dodging all the foxes. All my neighbours are feeding him and he seems quite happy at the moment.

“He gets bigger and bigger every time I see him. Some people don’t want me to catch him it brightens up the place.

“I’ve got a giant fisherman’s keep net but he’s like a footballer he keeps swerving me.

“It doesn’t have to run away the size of its claws it could really hurt you. It’s become a local celebrity in his own right.

“He can handle himself. He’s Dave Courtney’s peacock after all.

“We are trying our hardest to catch it. The man who gave it to me said ‘All you got to do it is feed it, and look after it and it will never fly away’.”

He told his neighbours: “I’m sorry for the inconvenience when I do actually catch him I will be giving him to a sanctuary. But I have been very touched by how everyone has looked after him.”

Dave Courtney has written books on his criminal past is offering a £100 reward if the bird is captured.