A man accused of faking his own death before hiding in Scotland to escape sex charges, only to be arrested twice after almost dying of Covid and then missing his extradition hearing, has been remanded in custody.
The man, who goes by at least ten other aliases, including Nicholas Alahverdian and Arthur Knight, appeared at a hearing in Edinburgh on Friday in a wheelchair wearing an oxygen mask, pyjamas, a dressing gown and socks.
Prosecutors said the man who appeared in court is Nicholas Rossi – the Rhode Island man wanted after fleeing the US in 2017 to evade charges involving identity theft and fraud, and a 2008 sexual assault charge in Utah.
But when asked if he could confirm that his name was Nicholas Rossi, he denied it.
The 34-year-old was first arrested on December 13 after being admitted to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) with coronavirus under the name Arthur Knight.
He was then released on bail after appearing via video link at a court hearing on December 23 on the understanding that he required more treatment.
However prosecutors told a hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court that he discharged himself the next day and went home to his address in West End Park Street in Glasgow.
The court heard the alleged sexual offender was then arrested a second time, on January 20 at his house, for failing to attend an extradition hearing that day.
Speaking at the hearing on Friday, Procurator Fiscal Jennifer Johnson said Rossi’s bail should be revoked as he posed “a significant flight risk”.
She said he made several attempts to leave QEUH with oxygen canisters in December, including hiring a private ambulance and offering to pay £100 to a taxi to take him home.
Ms Johnson also told the court Rossi attempted to use multiple aliases, saying that a document provided by Rossi’s lawyers was in the name of Nicholas Brown Knight, but when he was arrested in QEUH he was said to be using the name Arthur Knight.
She added that when police spoke to Rossi’s wife, she said his name was Arthur Brown, but a marriage certificate exists which calls him Nicholas Brown.
The court heard that since the alleged sexual offender’s arrest received media attention, Police Scotland received “a complaint of a domestic nature to police in Essex in 2017” in relation to Rossi.
Ms Johnson told the court there is “concern” over Rossi reoffending, “as well as risk of flight”, and that “he cannot be trusted for bail”.
Appearing for the man, Fred Mackintosh QC said his client’s health had deteriorated significantly since catching Covid, and he is at risk of death by no oxygen if he is sent to prison.
“If he goes to prison he will run a serious risk of asphyxiation in his sleep,” Mr Mackintosh said.
“His conditions are also not limited to post-Covid. He suffers from epilepsy, anxiety, depression and lower back pain.”
Sheriff Alistair Noble said bail had been initially granted on the understanding that he would need to remain in hospital for “at least a few weeks” for treatment.
He added that after seeing a medical note from a doctor at QEUH, he understood the man could receive the medical assistance he requires in prison and remanded him in custody.
No further information was given about the extradition process during the hearing.