Raymond Scott guilty of handling stolen Shakespeare Folio

08/07/2010

Raymond Scott has today been found guilty of possessing an original copy of Shakespeare's First Folio stolen from Durham University.

The folio, published nearly 400 years ago, was stolen from a cabinet while on display in 1998. It remained missing until Scott tried to have it authenticated by experts in Washington DC two years ago with a view to selling it. He denied knowing it was stolen.

At Newcastle Crown Court, a jury found him guilty of handling stolen goods and removing those goods from the country. He was found not guilty of being behind the theft.

Chris Enzor, Durham Chief Crown Prosecutor said:

"The theft of Shakespeare's first folio was not just a devastating loss to Durham University, but to the literary world as a whole. Raymond Scott is a dishonest conman, a serial thief who found himself in possession of a national treasure. He was also in serious financial trouble. This is a man who in reality lived on benefits with his mother, but was running up huge credit card debts funding a lavish lifestyle driving a Ferrari, travelling around the world, staying in luxury hotels and dressing in expensive clothes. No doubt the pressure of his debts led him to try and sell the folio.

"Shortly before he went to the Folger Library, a mutilation of this virtually priceless treasure took place in a bid to remove anything that might identify it as the Durham copy. Pages were torn out and the binding removed. Although a convicted thief, Scott was not used to handling such high profile stolen goods, taking the folio into the world's biggest Shakespeare library to have it authenticated. He didn't anticipate the museum immediately becoming suspicious.

"He has continued to deny knowing the folio was stolen. While the court found Scott not guilty of the theft, he has been convicted of handling stolen goods. Meanwhile, Shakespeare's first folio, a world treasure, is now back where it belongs, though sadly very badly mutilated."