'Fugitive' who 'faked his death to dodge US rape charges' fails to show at his extradition hearing

'Fugitive' who 'faked his death to dodge US rape charges' fails to show at his extradition hearing

‘Covid conman’ fugitive who ‘faked his death to dodge US rape charges’ only for authorities to find him in Scotland fails to show at his extradition hearing after second ‘sudden and unexplained deterioration’ in his ‘medical condition’

  • Prosecutors say Nicholas Rossi allegedly raped a 21-year-old in Utah in 2008 
  • He says he is Arthur Knight, a victim of mistaken identity who’s never been to US
  • He did not attend court today because he’d been admitted to hospital yesterday 

An alleged fugitive who is said to have faked his own death to dodge US sex charges, only for authorities to find him in Scotland, has failed to show at his extradition hearing after a second ‘sudden and unexplained deterioration’ in his ‘medical condition’. 

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.

Rossi was due to be at Edinburgh Sheriff Court for a hearing today but did not attend because he had been admitted to hospital the previous day.

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

Nicholas Rossi was due to be at Edinburgh Sheriff Court for a hearing today but this man, alleged to be him, did not attend because he had been admitted to hospital the previous day 

Rossi (pictured) is accused of faking his death from cancer in the US to avoid a sexual assault charge, before fleeing to Scotland

Rossi (pictured) is accused of faking his death from cancer in the US to avoid a sexual assault charge, before fleeing to Scotland

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.’

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.

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

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 

Sheriff Welsh agreed and ordered that Rossi 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 Rossi’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.

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Tom Pyman

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