US rape suspect faked own death before turning up on Covid ward in Scotland, court finds

11 November 2022, 12:19

A man claiming to be Arthur Knight is really fugitive rape suspect Nicholas Rossi, a court ruled. Right, the defendant’s wife Miranda Knight
A man claiming to be Arthur Knight is really fugitive rape suspect Nicholas Rossi, a court ruled. Right, the defendant’s wife Miranda Knight. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

A US rape suspect faked his own death before making his way to Scotland where he was arrested after checking himself into a Glasgow hospital with Covid-19, a judge has ruled.

Nicholas Rossi, 35, has spent the last 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 has found the man to be Rossi - whom US authorities have been seeking in connection with rape and sexual assault allegations.

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.

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In a 15-minute conclusion, Sheriff McFadyen rejected Rossi's lies as "implausible" and "fanciful".

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 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.

The defendant leaving Edinburgh Sheriff and Justice Of The Peace Court
The defendant leaving Edinburgh Sheriff and Justice Of The Peace Court. Picture: Alamy

Sheriff McFadyen said the repeated name changes are "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 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 that Interpol issued Police Scotland officers with a red notice, detailing pictures of the wanted man, including images of his tattoos and fingerprints.

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.

A stream of preliminary hearings then took place, which saw Rossi sack at least six lawyers working on his case and claim that he had been tortured by prison officers.

The hearings culminated in an extraordinary identification case where the Rhode Island citizen made one last attempt to con lawyers by insisting his fingerprints had been meddled with and that he had been tattooed while unconscious in hospital.

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.

The hearing continues.

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