Nicholas Rossi-Arthur Knight: Identity of man fighting extradition to US confirmed as rape suspect who faked his own death and fled to Scotland

A man who has been fighting extradition to the US is fugitive rape suspect Nicholas Rossi, a sheriff has ruled.

The 35-year-old has spent the past 11 months trying to con the Scottish courts into believing he is Arthur Knight, an orphan from Ireland who has never been to the US.

But on Friday, Sheriff Norman McFadyen told Edinburgh Sheriff Court he had found the man to be Rossi, whom US authorities have been seeking in connection with rape and sexual assault allegations.

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The sheriff said: “I am ultimately satisfied on the balance of probabilities … that Mr Knight is indeed Nicholas Rossi, the person sought for extradition by the United States.”

The defendant in the Nicholas Rossi extradition case, who has claimed to be Arthur Knight, arrives at Edinburgh Sheriff And Justice Of The Peace Court. Picture: PA

A full hearing on Rossi’s extradition to the US will now go ahead in Scotland in March. Mungo Bovey KC, defending, requested bail for his client on the grounds he remains accused and not convicted. But Sheriff McFadyen rejected the plea “given the flight risk he represents”.

In earlier evidence, Rossi tried to convince the courts he had been tattooed while in a coma to resemble the wanted man, and that his fingerprints had been taken by an NHS worker called “Patrick” on behalf of US prosecutors to frame him.

In a 15-minute conclusion on Friday, Sheriff McFadyen rejected Rossi’s lies as “implausible” and “fanciful”. The sheriff also dismissed Rossi’s reasoning that he changed his name several times as a means of detaching himself from what he claimed to be a traumatic childhood.

Sheriff McFadyen said the repeated name changes were “highly suspicious” and “consistent with someone who was hiding from someone or something”.

Rossi was first arrested in October last year after checking himself into the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow with Covid-19. It is alleged he faked his own death in the US and fled to Scotland to evade prosecution.

While hiding in Scotland, under the alias Knight and posing as a tutor, Rossi developed Covid pneumonitis and became “the sickest patient on the ward”, according to medical staff who were caring for him at the time.

It was at this point Police Scotland officers were issued with an Interpol red notice, with pictures of the wanted man, including images of his tattoos, and fingerprints.

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Medical staff and the two officers who arrested Rossi, Pc Shannon McGill and Pc Jamie Crombie, were able to identify the patient by looking at the tattoos. Rossi was granted bail at the time on the understanding he required more treatment.

But he was then rearrested on January 20 at his address in Glasgow for failing to attend an extradition hearing that day.

Procurator fiscal Jennifer Johnston insisted Rossi posed “a significant flight risk”, and told the courts he had made several attempts to leave QEUH with oxygen canisters in December, including hiring a private ambulance and offering to pay £100 to a taxi to take him home.

The accused is wanted by authorities in Utah who allege he raped a 21-year-old in 2008.

In addition, US prosecutors submitted supplementary extradition requests in late October for Rossi, one of which relates to an allegation of rape in Salt Lake City and another to an allegation of sexual assault elsewhere.