US fugitive Nicholas Rossi has bail rejected over flight risk fears

Nicholas Rossi previously asked to be granted bail from Saughton Prison due to 'being intimidated by fellow prisoners'.

US fugitive Nicholas Rossi has bail rejected over flight risk fears STV News

A Covid-19 survivor wanted by the US authorities for sex offences has lost another bid to prove he’s an innocent Irishman caught up in an international manhunt.

Sheriff Chris Dickson ruled that fugitive Nicholas Rossi wasn’t Glasgow based Eire citizen Arthur Knight on Wednesday during a hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

His colleague Sheriff Norman McFadyen had ruled last year that Scottish Police had arrested the man who the US authorities say committed sex crimes in his home country.

However, American authorities issued a second extradition request following Sheriff McFadyen’s decision.

This prompted the prospect of the Scottish court spending three days listening to evidence for a second time in order to establish Rossi’s identity.

However, on Wednesday prosecutor Paul Harvey told Sheriff Dickson that there was no need for the court to hear the same evidence for the second time.

Mr Harvey told the court that he could use the principle of Res Judicata to determine that Rossi was not Arthur Knight based on Sheriff McFadyen’s earlier findings.

Res Judicata is the legal concept that allows for courts to accept as a fact findings that had been made at an earlier hearing.

Sheriff Dickson upheld Mr Harvey’s submissions and said he was content that the wheelchair bound man sitting in court was Nicholas Rossi.

He said: “I have found that the person before me is Nicholas Rossi who is the person requested by the US.”

Rossi was first arrested in December 2021 after being admitted to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital for urgent treatment for Covid-19. He is said to have checked in to the medical facility using the Knight alias. He was traced after a tip-off from Interpol while he was on a ventilator.

Authorities in the States claim he 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 he says it’s a massive mistake – insisting he’s called Arthur Knight and claiming never to have been in the US.

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 while he was receiving Covid treatment. The latest extradition request relates to an allegation the convicted sex offender was responsible for raping another woman in the US.

At a hearing last month Rossi claimed he has been “bullied” by prisoners who sing the John Denver classic Leaving on a Jet Plane to him. Rossi said: “I’ve been treated incredibly terribly. My wife is afraid to enter the prison. 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.”

On Wednesday, it emerged that Rossi has re-instructed top Scots lawyer Mungo Bovey KC to represent him in his extradition battle.

Sheriff Dickson adjourned the two extradition requests to a hearing which is scheduled to take place next month on March 6, 2023.

Mr Bovey also failed in a request to free Rossi on bail from HMP Edinburgh. He said that Rossi’s wife Miranda was currently in the midst of a “health crisis” and that their tenancy in an exclusive area of Glasgow was coming to an end.

Mr Bovey also referred to his client as “Mr Knight” and claimed his client was being badly treated by prison staff.

He added: “HIs electric wheelchair is removed from him in prison. This has the effect of limiting his mobility and quality of life.

“There is no risk of him absconding and I invite you to grant him bail.”

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