Raymond Scott found dead in Acklington prison

AN eccentric jailed for handling a rare stolen copy of Shakespeare’s early plays has been found dead in his prison cell.

AN eccentric jailed for handling a rare stolen copy of Shakespeare’s early plays has been found dead in his prison cell.

Police have confirmed that Raymond Scott, who was locked up for handling a stolen £1.5m collection of the Bard’s plays, died at a Northumberland jail yesterday.

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The 55-year-old, who was serving an eight-year sentence, was pronounced dead after being found unconscious shortly after 8.30am.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “At 8.41am police received a report from the Prison Service of the death of a prisoner at Acklington Prison.

“Enquiries are currently being carried out into the death, At this stage there is not believed to be any third-party involvement.”

Scott was arrested in 2008 after he walked into a specialist Shakespeare library in America, attempting to sell the book, which had been stolen in 1998.

The unemployed antiques dealer lived a bizarre, lavish playboy lifestyle, funded by a life of crime and vast credit card debts.

The serial fraudster funded his appetite for champagne and Cuban cigars with debt and dishonesty.

And despite living on benefits he drove around in a yellow Ferrari.

Scott claimed to have international business interests and homes in Monte Carlo and Liechtenstein.

But in reality he had never worked in his life and instead racked up £90,000 of credit card debts to pay for the high-life he craved.

Scott planned to sell the £1.5m book to clear his debts and win the heart of a Cuban dancer he had become infatuated with while holidaying on the island.

But when he turned up at the renowned Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC, where he thought he could sell the damaged rare first folio, experts in the Bard’s works instantly recognised it as the one that had been stolen from Durham.

An investigation was launched by Durham Constabulary, and in 2008 Scott was arrested at the Washington home he shared with his elderly mother.

During his trial at Newcastle Crown Court Scott denied all knowledge that the collection of 36 plays, published seven years after Shakespeare’s death, was stolen and insisted he had found the 387-year-old works in Cuba.

But the jury found him guilty of handling stolen goods and removing stolen property from Britain. He was cleared of stealing the book himself.

Judge Richard Lowden described the fact that the book had been defaced to hide its true identity as an act of “cultural vandalism” on a “quintessentially English treasure.”

The court heard how Scott had 25 previous convictions dating back to 1977, mainly for dishonesty.

And in jailing him, Judge Lowden said: “You are to some extent a fantasist and have to some degree a personality disorder and you have been an alcoholic.

“It is clear that from the psychiatric report you are not suffering from any mental disorder.”

He added: “Your motivation was for financial gain. You wanted to fund an extremely ludicrous playboy lifestyle in order to impress a woman you met in Cuba.”

 
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