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dubai dash Loyalist dope dealer Courtney and pals jet away on seven-star Dubai luxury holiday

The picture is one Courtney hoped the public wouldn't see after the Sunday World exposed his life of crime and luxury

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Ballymena gangster George Courtney poses for a snap with a pal on his recent trip to Dubia.

Ballymena gangster George Courtney poses for a snap with a pal on his recent trip to Dubia.

Ballymena gangster George Courtney poses for a snap with a pal on his recent trip to Dubia.

Loyalist crime boss George Courtney sneaked off to Dubai to splash out on a 'seven-star' lads-only holiday.

The 41-year-old convicted drug smuggler jetted out to the sun-soaked Emirate and it's understood he spent almost a week at the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel - dubbed the only seven-star hotel in the world because of its phenomenal luxury.

It's believed Courtney - who once got six years in jail for smuggling £500,000 worth of cannabis and later had property seized as proceeds of crime - was out celebrating his last days of 'freedom' with a bunch of pals in preparation for his wedding later this year to Ashleigh Matthews.

While out in Dubai he not only stayed in the best accommodation, he also drank expensive cocktails, visited the best nightclubs and hired dune buggies for adventure rides in the desert.

He's seen posing with a mate at the world-famous Dubai nightclub, The Penthouse, which sits on the 16th floor of the luxury Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai, commanding unbroken views across the city.

It's a picture Courtney hoped we'd never see as the dope dealer - dubbed 'Ballymena George' - turned social media shy after we kept exposing his life of crime and luxury.

Courtney and his fiancée turned their social media profiles to private after she posted pictures of his hot-tub wedding proposal and we 'splashed' them across this paper.

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George Courtney and Ashleigh Matthews

George Courtney and Ashleigh Matthews

George Courtney and Ashleigh Matthews

Courtney, who once had a loyalist paramilitary tattoo emblazoned across his chest, spent a fortune last week at the exclusive Dubai hotel resort where a room for next weekend starts at around €2,000 per night.

We were sent this picture anonymously by a member of the public who saw the image and was angry at a convicted drug smuggler being able to live a life of luxury denied most law-abiding people.

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George Courtney and Ashleigh Matthews

George Courtney and Ashleigh Matthews

George Courtney and Ashleigh Matthews

But with Courtney claiming to be a builder by trade, it's difficult to see how he can have so much spare cash for luxury events like that.

However, according to our sources, it is alleged the former MMA fighter remains heavily involved in the drugs trade and has continued to make huge profits from criminality.

A source who knows Courtney confirmed he was continuing to live a life of luxury and is claiming he is a building contractor.

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"He's got himself the personalised number plate 'GCB' which stands for 'George Courtney Builder' but he's only doing snagging on sites. Basically, he goes round sites patching up any faults in the brickwork," said the source.

"Bob The Builder has more building experience than Courtney - but he's got plenty of cash for someone who's a glorified brickie.

"He has a top-of-the-range jet ski. He keeps his social media private because the hot tub engagement pictures left him furious. He posts pictures about his lifestyle but you have to be friends to see them.

"He was in London just before Christmas and he posted pictures of himself holding loads of bags from Harrods."

According to the Burj Al Arab website, even their most basic suite comes complete with 170 square metres, a master bathroom complete with a full-size jacuzzi and a "world-class butler service".

The Penthouse nightclub, bar and restaurant is the premier spot to relax in Dubai and has won awards for its fine dining and stunning roof-top setting.

Two years ago, Courtney was splashing the cash after proposing to his partner beside a hot tub and celebrating with a romantic dip.

Courtney organised and paid for the elaborate engagement party at the luxury Galgorm Resort and Spa in August 2020.

During the secretly planned bash Courtney invited around 30 close family and friends and took over much of the resort.

His bride-to-be is the daughter of notorious loyalist loan shark thug Mel Matthews, who was also in the pictures posted on social media at the time.

Former UDA man Matthews was jailed for 10 years in 1977 for shooting a UDR man during a botched gun robbery in Belfast.

Three years ago we revealed how then MMA fighter Courtney had become a 'shy' loyalist after he went to the tattoo fixers to get a Red Hand Commando crest on his chest covered up as he was due to fight in Dublin.

His future father-in-law Mel happened to be a leading figure in the Red Hand Commando.

steven.moore@sundayworld.com

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