Shakespeare thief found dead

Raymond Scott in one of his eccentric outfits
Raymond Scott in one of his eccentric outfits

AN unemployed antiques dealer who was jailed for handling a stolen copy of a rare first collection of Shakespeare’s plays has been found dead in his prison cell.

The body of Raymond Scott, once described by a judge as a “fantasist”, was found in his cell at HMP Northumberland yesterday morning.

The 54-year-old, who lived in Manor Grange, Wingate, was jailed for eight years in August 2010 after being found guilty of handling stolen goods after he was found with a priceless first folio of Shakespeare’s plays taken from Durham University.

He had been cleared of stealing the 380-year-old folio from the university’s Palace Green Library, but was jailed for handling stolen goods and removing stolen property from the UK.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “HMP Northumberland prisoner Raymond Scott was pronounced dead at approximately 8.40am on Wednesday, March 14, after being found unconscious in his cell.

“As with all deaths in custody, the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation.”

Scott, who drove a yellow Ferrari and posed as an international playboy despite having huge debts, was famed for drinking vintage champagne and smoking fine Cuban cigars.

He had said it had taken him a while to get used to life without his luxuries.

Scott was accused of stealing the 1623 folio and concealing it for nearly a decade before producing it at the Folger Shakespeare Library, in Washington DC, in the US, in June 2008, when he ran out of money.

He had said he acquired the folio in Cuba, the home of his fiancée Heidi Garcia Rios, a 23-year-old nightclub dancer.

But, despite the book being “damaged, brutalised and mutilated”, experts at the Folger recognised it as the stolen copy and called in the FBI.

He once said of his time in prison: “I am looking at my time as extensive rehab.

“I was given a course of librium (a drug used to combat alcohol withdrawal symptoms) at first to get over my drinking, and I have never felt so fit.”