Nicholas Rossi, wanted by US over rape case, claims he was tattooed while unconscious

A man facing extradition to the US in connection with a historical rape case has claimed he was tattooed while unconscious.

The 35-year-old, who says his name is Arthur Knight, has been giving evidence at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

The court is trying to establish whether or not he his actually Nicholas Rossi, a man suspected of raping a woman in Utah in 2008 then later faking his own death.

An Interpol red notice of Rossi shows him with a number of distinctive tattoos on both his arms, including one of a red cross above an angel wing.

Police Scotland officers arrested him at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow in October last year, after he was hospitalised with breathing difficulties.

Medical staff identified him on the basis of the red notice.

'I was comatose'

At Tuesday's hearing the man claiming to be Arthur Knight, said that he was in a coma for 18 days before his arrest in Scotland, during which time he was tattooed.

He told the court: "Throughout the 18 days I was comatose, I did not have free will over my body. I have never had tattoos prior to being in hospital."

Advocate depute Paul Harvey asked the man to clarify if the tattoos appeared on his body while he was in a coma, to which he replied: "Yes" and that he "raised it with the hospital administration".

Earlier evidence was heard from charge nurse Ruth Keating, 58, who cared for the man whom she knew as Arthur Knight while he was in hospital.

She told the court of his "distinctive" tattoos on both arms.

Addressing one particular photo on the Interpol red notice of Rossi, which showed a tattoo of a red cross above an angel wing, Ms Keating said: "That looks like the tattoo I saw on Arthur Knight."

Is this man a fugitive rape suspect who faked own death or victim of mistaken identity?

The two police officers who arrested the man, PC Shannon McGill and PC Jamie Crombie, also said they recognised Rossi's tattoos on the man's arms in evidence.

Mr Harvey put the witnesses' statements to the man, asking if they were correct about the tattoos on his body, to which he said yes, but that they were slightly different to Rossi's tattoos on the Interpol notice.

Addressing the images of the tattoos shown before the court, the man said: "They were put there to make it look like I am this Nicholas Rossi.

"All I can say is that when I awoke from the coma, there were tattoos on my person and they were not identical to what appears on these screens."

Accent 'switched'

Mr Harvey then asked: "The staff, doctors, nurses in the ICU at QEUH did nothing to prevent someone putting these tattoos on your body while you were in a coma?"

The man said in his "waking moments" he recalled there being "many, many people on the ward" and started to talk about apparent water contamination issues in the building before the sheriff asked him to stop drifting off topic.

When he was asked why his accent switched from posh English to other accents throughout the hearing, he blamed oxygen deprivation.

The man went on to claim his accusers had doctored the fingerprints used on his arrest warrant and that the pictures on the red notice had been "transposed".

The man's wife, Miranda Knight, 41, was also called to give evidence.

She told the court the reason for the man's name changes was because he suffered post traumatic stress disorder from his childhood.

Mungo Bovey KC, defending, asked her if there was any indication her husband was Rossi, to which she replied: "No."

Sheriff Norman McFadyen adjourned the hearing until Wednesday morning.