| 2.8°C Belfast

Man tried to sell stolen Shakespeare first edition

An unemployed antiques dealer with a taste for the high life was jailed for eight years yesterday after for handling a stolen copy of a rare first edition of a collection of Shakespeare's plays.

Raymond Scott (53), who posed as an international playboy despite having huge debts, walked into one of the world's leading Shakespeare research centres with the 17th century folio.

Staff at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. recognised the book and called police, the British Embassy and the FBI.

Regarded as one of the most important printed works in the English language, less than 250 copies of the collection survive.

They were printed in 1623, seven years after the bard's death.

Last month a jury at Newcastle Crown Court found Scott guilty of handling stolen goods and removing stolen property from Britain.

However, he was cleared of stealing the book from Durham University in 1988.

Passing sentence, Judge Richard 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.”

Belfast Telegraph