Alleged US fugitive using ‘tactic’ to delay proceedings, court told

A man facing extradition to the US is using a “tactic” to try to delay his hearing, a court has heard.

The 35-year-old – who courts in Utah have said is fugitive Nicholas Rossi – is fighting an extradition request by authorities who allege he raped a 21-year-old in the state and attacked women elsewhere in the US.

The man, who says his name is Arthur Knight, appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court by video-link for a hearing on Thursday.

Junior counsel Chris Miller, defending, requested the full hearing, which is due to go ahead on November 7, be delayed into 2023 to allow him more time to look at the case.

Mr Miller said he had only been given the man’s legal papers from previous lawyers “on the steps of the courts” on Thursday morning, hours before the hearing started at 11am.

The accused had stopped working with his previous lawyers on October 25 and the Public Defence Solicitors’ Office was only instructed for a lawyer late on Tuesday, the court heard.

Mr Miller said: “We have not had the opportunity to be instructed with this person. Future reports may be required.

“Given the fact that we are at this stage and have only had two days to look at this, my decision would be to continue this in 2023.”

But advocate depute Paul Harvey told the court there is an “emerging pattern” in delaying hearings.

He described it as “a tactic” of the man, who he referred to as “the man who the USA authorities seek”.

Mr Harvey then listed the dates of multiple hearings that have happened this year since the case started in December 2021, and named six different lawyers who the man has worked with on the case so far.

Mr Harvey told the court: “There is now an emerging pattern, and if this case does not proceed next week… it is difficult to escape the conclusion that this is a tactic which he may seek to repeat.

“The court can’t count that this isn’t going to recur.”

Judge Norman McFadyen refused the request for next week’s hearing to be adjourned and confirmed it will go ahead on Monday.

Nicholas Rossi court case
The man denies that he is Nicholas Rossi (PA)

This will focus solely on the question of the man’s identification, the court heard.

Ten witnesses are due to be called, including police, a GP and a registrar for the prosecution, and the man’s wife for the defence.

Mr Miller then requested bail for the man, which has previously been turned down, but this was refused again.

The court was then adjourned for a brief moment after the man was heard attempting to speak, and seen raising his hand on the screen.

When the case continued, Mr Miller, who then referred to the man as Mr Knight, made a final request for delays to proceedings following discussions with his client about obtaining a potential birth certificate from Ireland.

But Mr Harvey said the request was “not an appropriate reason” and insisted the man had taken months already to produce the document.

“If it was not produced in the previous 11 months, it is highly unlikely to be now,” he told the court.

The case was continued until Monday with the man ordered to remain in custody until then.