RAYMOND Scott had halted his bid to clear his name over handling a precious stolen Shakespeare folio.
The eccentric 55-year-old, who was found dead in his cell in Acklington prison on Wednesday, had been days away from taking his case to the Court of Appeal.
But if next Tuesday’s hearing had gone ahead, Scott’s lawyers would have told the court he wanted to fight to cut his eight-year sentence, not challenge his handling stolen goods conviction.
Clive McKeag, Scott’s solicitor, said: “We gave him certain advice and he accepted that advice.
“ We certainly had no forewarning of this at all.”
He added that he was saddened by the news of Scott’s death.
“It came as a complete surprise and is very sad,” he said.
An inquest is due to take place and there will be a Prisons and Probation Ombudsman investigation into the death.
Scott, of Wingate, County Durham, was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2010 after being found guilty of handling a rare and priceless Shakespeare volume that had been stolen from Durham University library a decade before.