Alleged fugitive's 'coma tattoo' claims 'entirely outlandish'

The man, who claims he is Arthur Knight, says fingerprints on an extradition request had been 'meddled with'.

Man’s claims he was ‘tattooed in coma and framed’ in bid to prove identity ‘entirely outlandish’ STV News

An alleged fugitive’s attempts to explain why he is not the man wanted by US prosecutors are “entirely outlandish”, a court has heard.

Advocate depute Paul Harvey told Edinburgh Sheriff Court that “on the balance of probabilities”, the man is Nicholas Rossi, who is facing extradition to the US over two allegations of rape and one of sexual assault.

A hearing has been taking place at the court this week to establish the identity of the 35-year-old, who denies he is Rossi and claims to be Arthur Knight, from Ireland.

Giving evidence earlier in the week, the man claimed the fingerprints on the extradition request (those of Rossi) were meddled with, and taken from him by an NHS worker called “Patrick” on behalf of David Leavitt, a Utah county attorney.

Mr Harvey urged Sheriff Norman McFadyen to reject the man’s “fanciful” explanations.

He said: “The account that it was a man known only to be Patrick who took the prints from him when he was in a coma at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, that is not only fanciful but entirely outlandish.”

Earlier in the week, Tenprint Identification Officer (TIO) Lisa Davidson told the court that fingerprints taken by police in July from the man in HMP Saughton Prison are “identical” to Rossi’s fingerprints on the Interpol red notice and the extradition request.

On Tuesday, another TIO, Anita Vezza, analysing the same images, said the fingerprints had “similar characteristics on each that were unique to that person”.

In his evidence on Tuesday, the man claimed he was tattooed while unconscious in hospital, telling the court this is why he has similar tattoos to Rossi.

Mr Harvey told the court: “Your lordship can regard as fanciful and bizarre the explanation that while he was in a coma that someone entered the ward and tatooed his body without anyone… noticing.

“It’s not just fanciful, it’s bizarre.”

The lawyer also pointed to earlier evidence that showed the man had used multiple names when registering at a GP practice in Bristol that were different to the name on his marriage certificate – Nicholas Brown.

He said this was evidence the man uses aliases, the court heard.

Mr Harvey also said evidence given by the man’s wife, Miranda Knight, on Tuesday does not stand as it was all information given to her by the man.

Making his closing submission on Wednesday, the third day of the hearing, Mr Harvey said the sheriff has the information he needs to find that the man is Rossi.

He said: “Your Lordship has authenticated photos, you have authenticated fingerprints, and your Lordship is entitled to reject the person’s outlandish explanations.

“Your Lordship has the fingerprints which provide on its own sufficient proof that this man is the person who the Americans seek. Your Lordship has photos, tattoos and use of aliases.”

Mungo Bovey KC, defending, said the evidence heard so far about the tattoos is “vague and insubstantial”.

He described the analysis of the fingerprints given by the two forensic experts before the court as “not good”.

Mr Bovey also defended the man’s use of several names by saying the couple had “coherently explained” the name change was related to “the traumatic childhood suffered by the accused”.

The lawyer then attempted to seek bail for the man – a fourth attempt since he was taken into custody in July.

He said Mrs Knight is willing to surrender her passport “as a token of security” and the couple would offer a £1,000 payment as bail money.

The court heard the man is also willing to have a curfew and be put on an electronic tag.

But Sheriff McFadyen rejected the application.

He adjourned the hearing until Friday, when he is due to make a final decision on the man’s identity.

Earlier on Wednesday the court was told that US prosecutors submitted supplementary extradition requests in late October for the man.

One relates to an allegation of rape in Salt Lake City and another to an allegation of sexual assault elsewhere.

The man is already fighting an extradition request by authorities in Utah who allege he raped a 21-year-old in the state.

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