Suicide verdict on Shakespeare folio dealer

Raymond Scott. Photo: Press Association Images

An inquest has heard that a flamboyant book dealer from County Durham, jailed for handling a stolen edition of Shakespeare's first folio, took his own life in prison.

Raymond Scott, from Wingate, 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.

"At 8.05 am on March 14, 2012, staff were on duty and they began unlocking the fourteen 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."

– Evidence from Constable Sarah Snaith, Northumbria Police

The jury were told that Scott had become withdrawn and stressed following his failed appeal against his sentence.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

Police were alerted by library staff since it had been reported stolen from Durham University in 1998.

Scott, who would go on to arrive at court appearances in a horse-drawn carriage and various expensive cars, denied the charges and claimed he had found the folio in Cuba. However he was jailed in 2010.

The jury cleared 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 of debt.

It was also reported that he had become infatuated with a Cuban waitress and intended to sell the folio and share the proceeds with her.

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