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Daily Record
Daily Record
Alan McEwen

US fugitive Nicholas Rossi fails to attend court hearing after 'altercation' with security guard

US fugitive Nicholas Rossi didn’t attend his latest extradition hearing after becoming involved in an “altercation” with a security guard, a court heard.

Ross, 35, is fighting a bid to return him to the United States to face charges including rape, was brought to Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday morning.

But security officers refused to bring him to the courtroom following an alleged incident, so the preliminary hearing continued in his absence.

Sheriff Norman McFadyen later refused a bid by Rossi’s lawyer to have him released from Saughton Prison on bail on an electronic tag.

The court heard he would’ve stayed in his wife’s new address in Perth if set free.

The sheriff also ordered the defence to submit any expert reports on Rossi’s behalf within two weeks ahead of the full extradition hearing in June.

Rossi was brought to court by a prison van which reversed tight up against the building to allow him out in his wheelchair.

When the hearing began, Rossi wasn’t in attendance and advocate depute Paul Harvey said there had been an “altercation this morning” involving Rossi and a security officer.

Mr Harvey said he was happy to bring the security into court to speak about what occurred.

Solicitor Stuart Murray, acting for Rossi, said: “I understand there was some difficulty downstairs. I’m not in a position to comment on that.”

The hearing was adjourned for an hour to allow Mr Stuart to consult with Rossi.

After it resumed, Mr Murray said his client was “adamant” he’d wanted to attend, adding Rossi’s “position” was that he’d been “assaulted” by a security guard.

Sheriff McFadyen said it was his understanding security staff were “unwilling to bring him to court”.

Mr Murray agreed the officers were “reluctant” to bring up Rossi due to their concerns.

The solicitor made an application for a supervised bail assessment which could’ve seen Rossi released from jail on a tag to live in his wife Miranda Knight’s new address in Perth. She recently moved out of the couple’s former home in Glasgow.

Mr Harvey opposed the application and said Rossi’s “obstructionism and denial” had “gone on for too long”.

Earlier Mr Murray said the defence team had received a draft report from an expert who specialises in US prison conditions.

He said they’d received sanction from a Surrey-based psychiatrist to assess Rossi. But he told the court Saughton Prison hadn’t been able to facilitate a virtual meeting.

Mr Murray said a GP was due to assess Rossi’s physical health given his “general lack of mobility”. But he said the doctor reported that Rossi refused to meet him in prison, although his client denies this.

Mr Murray said the defence was trying to secure a further report on prison conditions in Utah. However, the court heard that was being stalled as Rossi’s US attorney was reluctant to assist until payment had been made for their legal services.

Sheriff McFadyen denied the motion for a supervised bail assessment.

He ordered any specialist reports to be lodged by May 4 and set a further procedural hearing for May 22.

Rossi was arrested at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in December 2021 while receiving treatment for Covid-19. He was detained on the original extradition warrant over an alleged 2008 rape in Utah.

During an extradition hearing in November, Sheriff McFadyen blasted Rossi’s claims to be an innocent Irishman called Arthur Knight in his ruling on Rossi’s identity.

He called Rossi’s allegation he was tattooed while in a coma in the Glasgow hospital to frame him as “implausible and fanciful”.

The sheriff said Rossi’s “highly suspicious” change of names in recent years was “consistent with someone who was hiding from someone or something”.

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