INVESTIGATIONS are today under way into the death of eccentric Raymond Scott in his prison cell.
He was jailed for eight years for handling a priceless 380-year-old first folio of Shakespeare’s plays, which had been stolen from Durham University.
Scott, who at the time of his arrest lived in Washington, died in Acklington prison in Northumberland.
A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “Raymond Scott was pronounced dead at approximately 8.40am yesterday, after being found unconscious in his cell.
“As with all deaths in custody, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation.”
Scott was accused of stealing the ancient folio after it went missing from Durham University’s Palace Green Library in 1988.
It re-appeared a decade later when he handed it in to the world-renowned Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC, sparking a global manhunt involving the FBI.
Two weeks later, police raided the home Scott shared with his mum in Wigeon Close, Ayton, and he was arrested.
Scott, who made dramatic appearances at court, including arriving in a limousine with a posse of blondes and dressing as Che Guevara, strenuously denied stealing the £3million text.
Scott, often seen clutching his trademark Pot Noodle outside court, was cleared of stealing the first folio.
But a jury at found him guilty of handling stolen goods and removing stolen property from the UK.
Scott admitted to leading a double life, pretending to be an international antique book dealer who drove a Ferrari, sipped champagne, wore designer clothes and smoked expensive cigars.
In reality, he was living on benefits in the former Washington council house.
Scott, who later moved to Wingate, complained at the time of his sentencing that the Raoul Moat case was stealing his thunder in the media.
In January 2011, Scott said he completed a motor mechanics course in prison and enjoyed reading, exercising and playing chess.
He went on to compare his time inside to an expensive health club.
“I am looking at my time as extensive rehab,” he added.
“I was given a course of librium (a drug used to help with alcohol withdrawal) at first to get over my drinking, and I have never felt so fit.
“I was on Prozac (an anti-depressant) too, but not any more.
“The excessive drinking of the past few years, especially those two awful years on bail, were beyond enjoying alcohol and all to do with decline and failure.
“There are people who pay thousands to go to places for the treatment I have received inside which I, of course, get for nothing.”