News24

Brit jailed over stolen Shakespeare

2010-08-02 20:03

London – A court jailed a British antiques dealer for eight years on Monday for smuggling a stolen William Shakespeare manuscript to the US and then trying to sell it to pay for his playboy lifestyle.

Raymond Scott, 53 – described by the judge as a "fantasist" – was found out after taking the book to staff at the world-renowned Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC in 2008 and asking them to verify that it was genuine.

The First Folio, a collection of Shakespeare's plays worth around $1.5m, was taken from Durham University in northeast England in 1998 but Scott was cleared of stealing.

He was however found guilty of handling stolen goods and removing stolen property – dating from 1623 – from the United Kingdom.

Prosecutors told the court he was in debt due to his lavish lifestyle, which included driving a Ferrari and staying in luxury hotels around the world, and tried to sell the book in order to clear it.

During his trial, Newcastle Crown Court heard that Scott had told police he discovered the book, which has been badly damaged, in Cuba.

Passing sentence on Monday, 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."