A LETTER written by an eccentric jailed for handling a rare stolen copy of Shakespeare’s early plays has emerged, sent days before he was found dead in prison.
In a four-page letter Raymond Scott tells how he feels physically and mentally sick and can’t face the prospect of seeing out his eight-year jail sentence for his part in the theft of a priceless Shakespeare first folio.
The 55-year-old also reveals he had been placed on suicide watch before he was found dead in his prison cell at Acklington prison, in Northumberland, on Wednesday.
HMP Northumberland refused to confirm or deny Scott was on suicide watch.
His letter, sent to The Journal’s sister paper The Sunday Sun, says: “I’m sick, writing this I am ill physically and mentally. Since the last letter I’ve deteriorated physically and mentally lost lots of weight no appetite not eating not difficult as food is inferior to what it used to be hardly sleeping looking haggard I now look fully my soon to be 55 years.”
Scott was sentenced to eight years in jail in August 2010 after being found guilty of handling a stolen Shakespeare first folio and transporting stolen goods out of Britain.
The case began in June 2008 when he walked into the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC with a first folio to have it authenticated and valued, the US institution being the world’s leading authority on them.
Staff at the Folger became suspicious, experts were called in and it was identified as the first folio stolen from Durham University Library a decade before.
Scott, who was found not guilty of theft, claimed he came across it in Cuba where his cabaret dancer girlfriend Heidy Garcia Rios, then 21, lived.
The court heard he was a fantasist who lived with his mum Hannah in Washington. Although on state benefits, he had conned credit card companies out of £90,000 to fund his lavish lifestyle.
He adds in his letter: “Friday 10th February. Just had the absolute worst week of my life. Total breakdown pacing round the cell all night shaking. The scales have fallen from my eyes it’s a waking nightmare. Not eating. Not sleeping. Mother came up on Wednesday – difficult visit she left worried naturally. How did I get into all this? Rescue me somebody please give me a second chance. Can’t cope. On suicide watch “the orange book”. Dear me what a disaster, when I think what I had, now look at me living like an animal in a cage.
“Seems like a million miles away those days on bail . . . The drunken buffoon attending court. Yuk. The ludicrous enterprise with the folio surely THAT person was mentally ill deluded not real in cloud cuckoo land.”
A spokesman from the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman said: “We can confirm our investigation has been opened. Our independent investigation will aim to identify the full circumstances of Mr Scott’s death and will try to answer any questions about his treatment.”