Raymond Scott inquest: Shakespeare book thief slit own throat in prison

Shakespeare’s first folio thief Raymont Scott took his own life at HMP Northumberland coroner rules

Photo credit: Press Association Raymond Scott
Raymond Scott

A flamboyant book dealer who was jailed for handling a stolen edition of Shakespeare’s first folio took his own life in prison, an inquest heard.

Raymond Scott, from Wingate, Durham was serving an eight-year sentence when he was found dead in his cell by prison officers.

The inquest at Berwick Magistrates’ Court heard that he had severe wounds to his neck and was discovered with razorblades in his hand.

Scott, who prior to his conviction passed himself off as a wealthy playboy, had mentioned having suicidal thoughts in the weeks leading up to his death.

A letter from him was also found in his cell at HMP Northumberland saying he intended to kill himself.

Giving evidence, Detective Constable Sarah Snaith, of Northumbria Police, said: “At 8.05am on March 14, 2012, staff were on duty and they began unlocking the 14 cells on the landing.

“After a minute or so Mr Scott had not appeared, so they entered the cell and saw Mr Scott lying on his back on the bed but could not rouse him.

“They then saw blood on the top of his chest. An alarm was raised and a nurse attended. She checked him for signs of life but no signs of life were evident.”

The jury were told that Scott had become withdrawn and stressed following his failed appeal against his sentence.

The eccentric 55-year-old was caught with the highly valuable folio when he took the 1623 work to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC, and asked for it to be authenticated. But police were alerted by library staff as it had been reported stolen from Durham University in 1998.

Scott, would go on to arrive at court appearances in a horse drawn carriage and various expensive cars - he turned up for a bail hearing in a stretch limo, dressed head-to-toe in designer gear, drinking Champagne smoking a cigar and carrying a Pot Noodle.

But despite denying the charges against him and claiming he had found the priceless book in Cuba, he was jailed in 2010, with the jury clearing him of stealing the collection but convicted him of handling stolen goods and removing them from Britain.

His Champagne lifestyle, which included expensive cigars and boasts of homes in Monte Carlo, led him to rack up tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt - including in the pursuit of Heidy Garcia Rios, a Cuban dancer he risked everything for.

The pair met in the Cabaret Parisien in October 2007, with Scott later describing the meeting as “love at first sight.”

“There were lots of pretty girls but I was only looking at her,” he said.

He went on to meet her after her performance, and it was thought he intended to sell the folio and share the money with her.

“Shakespeare tried to put it into words – ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate’. The world’s a wonderful place when you’re in love,” he said.

Coroner Tony Brown recorded that Scott had taken his own life.

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