Rape suspect Nicholas Rossi can be extradited to the US, sheriff rules

‘Dishonest and deceitful’ fugitive rape suspect Nicholas Rossi ‘who faked his own death and fled to the UK to avoid prosecution’ can be extradited to the US to face charges, court rules

  • Rossi appeared at court in Edinburgh today by video link, claiming to be unwell

A fugitive rape suspect accused of faking his own death and fleeing to the UK to avoid prosecution can be extradited to the US to face charges, a court has ruled.

Nicholas Rossi, branded ‘as dishonest and deceitful as he is evasive and manipulative’ by a sheriff today, is wanted by authorities in Utah for allegedly raping a woman in 2008.

He also faces multiple complaints against him in Rhode Island for alleged domestic violence.

The 35-year-old learned his fate at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today when Sheriff Norman McFadyen ruled there is no impediment to him being extradited.

Despite a court ruling last November that he is Rossi, the accused insists it is a case of mistaken identity and that he is an Irish orphan called Arthur Knight.

Sheriff McFadyen’s ruling will now be considered by Scottish ministers.

Nicholas Rossi (pictured leaving court last month) is wanted by authorities in Utah for allegedly raping a woman in 2008

He also faces multiple complaints against him in Rhode Island for alleged domestic violence

Sheriff McFadyen told the court: ‘I concluded that the evidence of the requested person was unreliable to the extent that I would not be prepared to accept any statement of fact made by him unless it was independently supported.

‘He contradicted himself as regards the length of time he had been in a wheelchair in the same breath.

‘His claim that he could not lift his arms above his head and keep them there because of atrophy in his arms was contradicted by his behaviour during the proceedings when he regularly raised and kept his hand raised during the hearing as he tried to engage the attention of the court.

READ MORE: Rossi was an ‘evil, devil’s spawn child’ who ‘always played the victim’, says his Engelbert Humperdinck impersonator stepfather

‘I am not alone in finding his reporting unreliable; I recall, for example, that (Rossi’s GP in HMP Edinburgh) Dr Mundweil doubted whether she could rely on what he told her about his medical condition.

‘He continues to maintain that he is an Irishman, adopted at birth, long resident in the United Kingdom and who has never set foot in the United States.

‘He has, with medical professionals and in court, avoided questions about his childhood and upbringing, I conclude because that is a canvas on which he has not yet chosen to paint, although he has asserted various psychiatric ailments which ultimately could not be established without the history that he has chosen not to share.

‘I conclude that he is as dishonest and deceitful as he is evasive and manipulative. These unfortunate facets of his character have undoubtedly complicated and extended what is ultimately a straightforward case.’

Rossi appeared at the court today by video link after claiming to be unwell.

He was bent over at the waist, dressed in a green jumper and did not show his face.

When asked if he is Rossi, he did not answer.

Rossi’s lawyer Mungo Bovey KC attempted to delay proceedings and asked for Rossi to be excused.

Sheriff McFadyen suggested Rossi had attended court by videolink ‘voluntarily’, but in an angry outburst Rossi said he had been brought before the camera by ‘physical force’ and he called the sheriff ‘a disgrace to justice’.

Rossi (pictured leaving court last month) appeared at the court today by video link after claiming to be unwell

During a week-long hearing in June, Rossi wore what appeared to be a black legal gown and a yarmulke – a hat worn by Orthodox Jewish men.

Questioned about his dress in court, Rossi claimed the gown was actually called a bekishe, an overcoat also worn by Orthodox Jewish men.

The fugitive converted to Judaism while in HMP Edinburgh, where he has been held since 2022.

READ MORE: Rossi is being treated ‘abysmally’ in prison, fellow inmate claims 

This final hearing was adjourned from July 12 following delays in court proceedings due to issues with transport from HMP Edinburgh as well as interruptions by Rossi, who attempted to dismiss his counsel Mr Bovey on two occasions.

Throughout the June hearing, Mr Bovey attempted to have the case discharged as his client is wanted for questioning about an alleged rape in England.

He also claimed Rossi was not brought before a sheriff within an appropriate amount of time and that he did not receive a crucial document from the National Crime Agency when he was arrested in December 2021 – but all of these applications were turned down by the sheriff.

Attempts were also made to give more time for Rossi’s mental health to be assessed, but three medical witnesses including psychiatrists Dr Kunal Choudhary and Dr Angela Cogan, as well as Rossi’s GP at HMP Edinburgh Dr Barbara Mundweil, said he showed no signs of acute mental illness.

Dr Mundweil also cast doubt on the state of Rossi’s health in general, telling the court she had ‘no major concerns’.

Giving evidence in his defence, Rossi claimed he was unable to raise his arms above his head because he was too unwell.

He said the reason he used a wheelchair was because the muscles in his legs had been so badly atrophied that he is unable to walk or support himself.

He also said he had considered going to the US to prove he is not Rossi.

A fellow prisoner, William King, gave evidence to court in which he claimed Rossi was treated ‘abysmally’ at HMP Edinburgh.

In closing speeches, Mr Bovey said extradition to the US would be a ‘flagrant breach’ of Rossi’s human rights.

But advocate depute Alan Cameron said there is no evidence that Rossi suffered any condition that would be a barrier to his extradition.

Previously, he had arrived at court in his wheelchair and with an oxygen tank and mask.

Asked by Mr Cameron about his wheelchair use, Dr Mundweil said there is ‘no reason’ for Rossi to be using an electric wheelchair and that his legs are ‘strong and athletic’.

The GP also told the court she saw a video appearing to be of Rossi kicking open a door and kicking a prison officer in the face, despite using a manual wheelchair in prison.

Rossi was arrested at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital on December 13, 2021 after being traced by Police Scotland.

He was served an Interpol red notice and a National Crime Agency certificate, a document Rossi claims never to have received, while he was in hospital in December 2021.

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