Briton guilty over mystery of rare Shakespeare text

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A British man was facing jail Friday after being found guilty of handling stolen goods following the disappearance of a rare William Shakespeare manuscript dating from 1623.

Raymond Scott, a 53-year-old antiques dealer, was discovered 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 a million pounds (1.2 million euros, 1.5 million dollars), 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 from the United Kingdom.

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

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

Scott was remanded in custody ahead of his sentencing at a later date. Judge Richard Lowden told him: "There will, in due time, be an inevitable substantial custodial sentence."

© 2010 AFP

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