Fugitive 'who faked death' appears in US court and contests identity

The 36-year-old insists he is an Irish orphan called Arthur Knight.

A man extradited from Scotland to the United States to face a rape charge has made another appearance in court in Utah.

Nicholas Rossi continued to contest his identity when he appeared at a virtual hearing in the Fourth District Court in Provo, where he was referred to by his defence lawyer as “Mr Knight”.

British prosecutors had referred to the 36-year-old as Rossi since his arrest at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow in December 2021 while being treated for Covid-19, and a sheriff confirmed his identity following lengthy legal proceedings in Scotland.

However, Rossi continues to insist his name is Arthur Knight and that he is an Irish orphan who is the victim of mistaken identity.

Rossi is alleged to have faked his own death before hiding out in Scotland.

He was extradited to the US in January and first appeared in court last month.

On Tuesday, Rossi appeared at the virtual hearing from Utah County Jail, wearing an oxygen mask, and was told repeatedly to speak up.

Judge Derek Pullan said: “Mr Rossi, did you receive your charging documents in this case?”

Rossi said: “Your honour, I’m not Nicholas Rossi. I have received them.”

Prosecutor Stephen Jones said the state planned to “dismiss” a part of the case.

A court official later confirmed a sexual battery charge has been dismissed.

The remaining charge is an allegation of rape in September 2008 in Utah county.

Mr Pullan said: “Sir, will you be hiring a lawyer or using a state defender?”

Lawyer Lance Bastian referred to Rossi as “Mr Knight”, and said he had acted for him previously but they were still in discussions.

Mr Bastian said: “If we could come back in something like 30 days.”

The next hearing is scheduled for March 5 at 1pm local time.

Mr Pullan said: “I’ll see you then.”

The Associated Press reported that Rossi grew up in foster homes in Rhode Island and had returned to the state before allegedly faking his death and fleeing the country. An obituary published online claimed Rossi died on February 29, 2020 of late-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Scottish ministers signed an extradition order last September and Rossi’s appeal against extradition was dismissed in December, paving the way for him to be removed from Scotland.

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