1. ITV Report

Shakespeare thief found dead in prison

A man who was jailed for handling a stolen copy of a rare first collection of William Shakespeare’s plays has died in prison.

Raymond Scott was found unconscious in his cell at HMP Northumberland this morning. He was sentenced to eight years in prison in August 2010 after being found with the priceless first folio, which was taken from Durham University in 1998.

The 55-year-old was caught when he walked into Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC with the 17th century book, which staff recognised.

In July 2010, Scott was found guilty of handling stolen goods and removing stolen property from Britain. He was cleared of stealing the collection from Durham University.

A Prison Service spokesperson said:

"HMP Northumberland prisoner Raymond Scott was pronounced dead at approximately 8.40am on Wednesday 14 March after being found unconscious in his cell.

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

– Spokesperson, HM Prison Service
Shakespeare's first folio at Durham University Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The collection was first printed in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death. They are regarded as one of the most important printed works in the English language, and fewer than 250 copies survive.