Man facing extradition seeking to delay proceedings, court told

A man believed to be an alleged US fugitive who is said to have faked his own death to escape sex charges is seeking to delay extradition proceedings “by any means possible”, a court has heard.

US prosecutors say the man is Nicholas Rossi, who allegedly raped a 21-year-old in Utah in 2008 and is also alleged to have attacked women in Rhode Island, Ohio and Massachusetts.

However, the 34-year-old claims to be Arthur Knight, a victim of mistaken identity who has never been to America.

The man was due to be at Edinburgh Sheriff Court for a hearing on Thursday but did not attend because he had been admitted to hospital the previous day following a deterioration in his medical condition, the court was told.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court
Nicholas Rossi did not attend the hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Crown agent Advocate Depute Paul Harvey said police went to the hospital to make inquiries about the man’s condition and were informed that an X-ray showed a slight deterioration and that he had a fever.

He told the court: “This is the second hearing in a row that this has happened on the eve of the hearing. There seems to be a sudden, not entirely explained deterioration.

“This is a person who has dispensed with the services of no less than three agents.

“There is an emerging picture of someone seeking by every means possible to delay these proceedings.”

The man alleged to be Rossi was apprehended in Glasgow earlier this year after being admitted to hospital with Covid-19, and attended court in a wheelchair and wearing a breathing mask connected to an oxygen tank at his last court appearance in May.

Mr Harvey said it is the Lord Advocate’s position that the question of identity can be determined “swiftly” and a list of witnesses and productions the Crown would rely on in support of the identity question were outlined last month.

He said: “Because the requested person was representing himself, in accordance with the usual proceedings no statements were disclosed directly to him.

“He was invited to attend at the Crown Office on June 7 to review all the material that the Lord Advocate was submitting to the court to establish the question of identity. No reply was ever received to that.”

Sheriff Thomas Welsh asked “Did he attend?”, to which Mr Harvey replied “No”.

Mr Harvey said the situation “simply cannot continue” and asked for a further continued preliminary hearing to be set for June 27 ahead of a full extradition hearing next month.

Sheriff Welsh agreed and ordered that the man should lodge a full medical report by that date.

He said: “The Crown need to have a strategy. We still have the full hearing down for July and, as you say, this situation cannot continue in the absence of some form of formal report from a senior medical practitioner.”

He continued the man’s bail.

Rossi reportedly told US media in December 2019 that he has late-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma and has weeks to live.

An obituary dedicated to him appeared online, and several outlets reported that he had died in February 2020.