A SELF-styled international playboy serving an eight-year prison sentence for handling a priceless stolen Shakespeare volume was taken off a suicide watch-style programme two weeks before taking his own life, an inquest has heard.

Flamboyant Raymond Scott had been placed on an Assessment Care and Custody Teamwork (ACCT) plan in Northumberland Prison on February 10 last year after he mentioned having suicidal thoughts, the hearing into his death was told today (Monday, December 9).

But by February 29 experts concluded he was no longer a risk to himself and took him off the plan, Detective Constable Sarah Snaith, of Northumbria Police, told the inquest at Berwick Magistrates’ Court.

Prison officers found Scott, 55, dead lying in bed in his cell shortly after 8am on March 14.

He had suffered two wounds to the neck and razor blades were found in his right hand. More blades were found on the floor and his bed, which was covered in blood.

A hand-written note from Scott, dated March 11, indicating he intended to kill himself, was also found.

Tony Brown, the Northumberland coroner, said Scott had a history of mental health issues and was suffering stress due to an appeal he had made against the length of his sentence, which was still ongoing when he died.

He had ‘fleeting’ suicidal thoughts but had said killing himself was something he would not do, Mr Brown added.

Mr Brown directed the jury of five women and four men the only appropriate verdict they could reach was that Scott took his own life - a conclusion they returned after just ten minutes of deliberations.

Scott was jailed for handling a priceless 17th century Shakespeare First Folio stolen from Durham University Library in December 1998.

The literary treasure, described as the most important in the English language, remained missing until Scott produced at the world-renowned Folger Shakespeare Library, in Washington DC, USA, in June 2008.

He claimed to have acquired it in Cuba, but was arrested at the former council house he shared with his elderly mother in Washington, Wearside, following an investigation by the FBI.

At Newcastle Crown Court in 2010, he was cleared of stealing the book but convicted of handling it and removing it from the UK and sentenced to eight years behind bars.