A SELF-STYLED rare book dealer accused of stealing a priceless Shakespeare volume was a Walter Mitty-type fantasist who lived a double life, a court has heard.

Raymond Scott, who denies stealing a Shakespeare First Folio from Durham University library, passed himself off as a Ferrari-driving, champagne- swigging, international playboy with a young woman on his arm, Newcastle Crown Court was told yesterday.

But in reality he lived in a two-up, two-down, former council house with his elderly mother and survived on a carer’s allowance. “He is, you may think, genuinely some sort of fantasist,” Toby Hedworth QC, for Mr Scott, said; comparing him to Walter Mitty, a fictional character who fantasised about living out various exciting lifestyles.

The Durham First Folio, dating from 1623, was missing for nearly ten years before Mr Scott produced it at the Folger Shakespeare Library, in Washington, US, in June 2008, claiming he had acquired it in Cuba, home of his fiancee – nightclub dancer Heidi Garcia Rios.

The 53-year-old, from Wingate, County Durham, denies theft and handling and transporting stolen goods.

Closing his defence, Mr Hedworth said: “You may have done a bit of a doubletake when you saw Mr Scott.

So much of what he is and what he does is outwith our normal expectations.

“Yes, he’s a petty shoplifter.

But does that mean he’s guilty of any other type of theft?

“Yes, he’s feckless and a spendthrift. He is, you may think, of questionable taste.

“Yes, he’s had his head turned – he fell into a honey trap. But is he just the sort of bizarre, naive, out-of-themainstream type of character who could be taken in by someone much more worldly and cynical in Cuba?

“Is this naive mummy’s boy simply out of his depth? He’s someone who genuinely believes a 21-year-old dancer is his fiancee. Ladies and gentlemen, there’s no fool like an old fool.

“May it be that he’s been had over? No doubt loving every minute of it. But if that may be the case... your verdicts in respect of these charges would be not guilty.”

Judge Richard Lowden is expected to finish summing up the case and send the jury out to consider their verdict later today.