Fingerprints of man wanted for extradition match rape suspect’s, court told

An identification expert said the fingerprints of man facing extradition to the US are those of the wanted fugitive Nicholas Rossi, a court has heard.

Lisa Davidson, a Tenprint Identification Officer, was called to give evidence at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday.

The court is trying to determine the identification of a man, 35, who claims he is Arthur Knight, but whom officials in the United States have said is Nicholas Rossi – who is wanted for raping a 21-year-old in Utah, and for attacks on other women.

An Interpol red notice document for Rossi’s arrest was shown at the hearing.

It featured multiple headshots of Rossi, and his fingerprints.

A document with the fingerprints of the man claiming to be Mr Knight, taken at Saughton Prison in Edinburgh this year, was also shown to the court.

Ms Davidson, who has worked in fingerprint identification for 22 years, was asked by advocate depute Paul Harvey what her conclusion was when she compared the fingerprints on the two documents.

She replied: “I found that they were identical. The fingerprints were identical. All 10 prints were identical.”

Nicholas Rossi court case
The man, who claims to be called Arthur Knight, arrives at Edinburgh Sheriff Court (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Ms Davidson was then asked to compare the man’s fingerprints with those of the wanted man Rossi’s on an extradition request, also shown before the court.

She said the quality of the fingerprints on the extradition request was bad, but said she was able to confirm the left forefinger and thumb were the same as the man’s.

The court heard the man was arrested on October 13 last year while being cared for at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow after developing respiratory problems from contracting Covid-19.

Charge nurse Ruth Keating, 58, who was on duty at the time, was called to give evidence at the hearing on Monday.

She told the court she cared for a patient called Arthur Knight.

She was presented with the same Interpol red notice document featuring images of Rossi, but was asked by Mr Harvey to focus on photos of his arms, which featured tattoos.

Addressing one particular photo showing a tattoo of a red cross above an angel wing, Ms Keating replied: “That looks like the tattoo I saw on Arthur Knight.”

When Mr Harvey asked the witness if she could identify Arthur Knight in the court room, Ms Keating pointed to the man.

Dr Robert Hart, 36, an intensive care consultant who treated Rossi, also recognised the photos shown to him by police as patient Arthur Knight.

He said the tattoos he saw on the patient were a “match” to those shown in the wanted man’s photos.

The witness told the court the tattoos were “discoloured”, and “the skin around the tattoos was fairly warped.”

Mr Harvey put it to Dr Hart if he had seen similar skin on patients who had tattoos removed, to which he replied: “I am no expert in that.”

The two police officers who arrested the man at QEUH, PC Shannon McGill and PC Jamie Crombie, who were also called to give evidence, said the man’s tattoos matched those in the document.

Detective Constable Lorn Gibson, 46, and Detective Constable Zahra Pirmohamed, 52, from Police Scotland’s extradition unit based at the Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh, were also called to give evidence and confirmed how they fingerprinted the man at Saughton on July 15 this year.

Earlier, the man arrived at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in a wheelchair chained to custody officers.

Following a stream of preliminary hearings which saw the man fire six lawyers and claim he was being tortured in prison, the case to determine his identity officially commenced on Monday.

Asked at the beginning of the hearing if he was Nicholas Rossi or Arthur Knight, he replied: “Arthur Knight.”

His lawyer, Mungo Bovey KC, proceeded to tell the court of multiple issues concerning legal proceedings with regard to his client and requested the case be adjourned.

One of these included complaints that some information from a solicitor for the man “seems to be misconstrued by the sheriff”.

He also told the court there were legal concerns over the way the warrant for the man’s arrest was issued, and claims his client did not receive the provisional arrest certificate (PAC) after his arrest in December.

But Sheriff Norman McFadyen rejected the request for adjournment and proceeding with the identification hearing.

The case continues on Tuesday.