The Covid-19 survivor wanted in the US over sex crime allegations has told of how he is being “bullied” by Scots prisoners who sing the John Denver classic Leaving on a Jet Plane to him.
Nicholas Rossi, 35, asked Sheriff Norman McFadyen to grant him bail from Edinburgh’s Saughton Prison because he is being intimidated by fellow prisoners.
He is currently on remand at the jail as American authorities are trying him to extradite him over sexual assault allegations. He denies the claims and says he’s a man called Arthur Knight.
But on Thursday, he told Edinburgh Sheriff Court that he’s fallen victim to bullying.
He told the court that inmates insist on singing John Denver’s Leaving on a Jet Plane to him.
Asking Sheriff McFadyen for bail, Rossi said: “I’ve been treated incredibly terribly. My wife is afraid to enter the prison.
“I’ve been treated terribly. I’ve been bullied on a daily basis. I’ve kept in my cell 24 hours a day. This includes singing of the song `Leaving on a Jet Plane’.”
Rossi also accused prison chiefs of the “masterful sabotage” of his relationship with his eighth set of lawyers during the hearing.
He said that his legal team no longer represented him in his battle to avoid extradition to America.
Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how his lawyers withdrew from acting for him after staff at the city’s Saughton Prison allegedly told them he wouldn’t attend meetings to discuss his defence.
But on Thursday, Rossi told the court that this was a “lie” and that he was able to meet with his solicitor Andrew Docherty and advocate Mungo Bovey KC.
He said he was now going to represent himself in the extradition case and that he was “saddened” by the lawyers decision to stop acting for him.
He also accused prison chiefs of destroying his relationship with his legal team.
Rossi said: “I feel that the factual basis for what happened should be heard in open court. There has been a masterful sabotage of my relationship with Mr Docherty and Mr Bovey.
“Mr Docherty attempted to visit me at HMP Edinburgh. He said he needed to speak to me and that if he couldn’t speak to me then he would be compelled to withdraw his instructions.
“Because he had been told that I had refused again to meet him, he withdrew his instructions.
“I was never informed of any appointment or meeting I had with him. It should be a matter of great public concern to my lordship that my solicitor attempted to visit me and I didn’t have the opportunity to see him.
“It is absolutely untrue that I refused to meet with Mr Docherty. I did not withdraw instructions. I’m very saddened by the dissipation of that relationship because of that lie that I refused to meet with him.”
Rossi was first arrested on December 13, 2021 after being admitted to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital for urgent treatment for Covid 19.
He is said to have checked into the medical facility using the alias Arthur Knight.
He was traced following a tip off from Interpol whilst he was on a ventilator in intensive care.
Law enforcement agencies in America claim that the man faked his own death to flee charges there and that he came to live in Scotland under an assumed identity.
He is wanted in Utah over an allegation of sexual assault.
But the man says it’s a massive mistake – he says he’s called Arthur Knight and claims never to have been in America.
The fugitive was identified using fingerprints, tattoos and mugshots – but Rossi claimed he’d been tattooed while in a coma and his prints had been taken whilst he was receiving Covid treatment.
Rossi has changed legal representation eight times. In May he cut links with Becky Houston, a Glasgow solicitor, after she referred to him as “Mr Rossi” in court, prompting him to exclaim: “It’s Knight, Knight, Knight!” He accused her of acting like “a mouse in the courtroom” and claimed she lacked the gravitas to represent him.
Rossi then represented himself and turned up in court wearing a dressing gown, pyjamas, slippers and an oxygen mask.
Rossi’s case was eventually taken up by the Vice Dean of the Faculty of Advocates Ronnie Renucci KC but they parted ways in October.
Sheriff McFadyen concluded last year that the evidence available to the extradition court showed he was Rossi.
Earlier prosecutor Paul Harvey had told Rossi: “Arthur Knight is the latest name you have used to evade the authorities.
“You are the person the US authorities seek. You are Nicholas Rossi.”
During his evidence, Rossi claimed he was given the tattoos which Sheriff McFadyen used to establish his identity whilst being treated for Covid.
He claimed an NHS worker called Patrick took his prints while he was in a coma with Covid at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital last December.
He told his extradition hearing that Patrick then sent the prints to the authorities in America.
Speaking about the tattoos, Rossi said: “They were put on my body to make me look like I am Mr Rossi.”
He also said he didn’t have any more information on “Patrick” other than he took his prints.
And the convicted sex offender said his pictures had been “transposed” onto an Interpol red notice seeking his arrest — therefore making him appear to bear a striking resemblance to the ‘real’ suspect.
The court also heard from another fingerprint expert who said there were “similar characteristics” on prints she analysed from Rossi compared to ones on the red notice.
At a later hearing, Mr Docherty told Sheriff McFadyen that Rossi still maintained he was Arthur Knight despite the court finding.
The claim emerged during a short hearing when Rossi appeared in connection with a second extradition request from the US authorities.
The latest extradition request relates to another allegation that he was responsible for raping another woman in the States.
The hearing on Thursday was due to be held in relation to the second extradition warrant and it was held with the purpose of once again re-establishing Rossi’s identity.
However, prosecutors asked for the case to be postponed so that they could obtain fingerprints and DNA samples from US authorities.
Rossi appeared in court in a wheelchair wearing a suit. He wasn’t connected to an oxygen tank and was breathing independently but spoke quietly for most of the hearing – reporters could hear him when he provided the court with an explanation about why he didn’t have lawyers.
During a lengthy hearing, Rossi asked for bail to be granted to him. He also paid tribute to his “darling wife” Miranda who “has suffered so much”.
He said his wife Miranda had spoken to “hundreds” of lawyers in a bid to find new representation.
Rossi added: “My wife and myself are very, very saddened by the loss of Mr Docherty and Mr Bovey KC.
“My wife who is incredible and supportive and unfortunately continues to contact hundreds of solicitors in order to facilitate the giving of instructions.”
Sheriff McFadyen adjourned the hearing which will deal with the issue of identity with regards to the second extradition warrant until February 15 2023.
The full hearing in the case is expected to take place on March 6 2023.