A SUSPECTED rapist who is embroiled in a long-running extradition battle – during which he tried to con the Scottish courts into believing he was in fact an innocent Irish orphan – has had his hearing put off until the summer.

American citizen Nicholas Rossi, 35, was expected before Edinburgh Sheriff Court but, it was told, he refused to get into the prison van and it was ruled the hearing could continue in his absence.

Rossi was expected to face his full extradition hearing before Sheriff Norman McFadyen, but during the more than hour-long case on Monday it was delayed because not all the required reports had been completed.

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His lawyer, Mungo Bovey, asked the Sheriff to delay proceedings, and told him: “I very much regret making this motion, both because of the disruption to the court diary and, frankly, for the prolonging of these proceedings which is not in anyone’s interest, including the requested person who displays psychological distress which is exacerbated by the continuing proceedings and his continuing incarceration.”

Sheriff McFadyen said: “It’s to say the least unfortunate the court cannot effectively proceed with the full extradition hearing date despite the fact this date was set as long ago as November last year.”

A preliminary hearing will be held on April 20, and McFadyen told the court the week-long extradition hearing would now be scheduled to begin on June 26.

The Sheriff said he would be “entitled” to hold the man to the commitment he made to hold the hearing on Monday, but said his legal team had been taking steps to secure the required reports and that it could take some time to produce these.

The National: The court heard that Rossi refused to get into the prison van to attend the hearingThe court heard that Rossi refused to get into the prison van to attend the hearing (Image: PA)

Sheriff McFadyen had said it was a “source of concern to the court the case has now been rumbling on for a very long time” and warned given the delays the “firm expectation and intention” of the court was to hold the hearing in June.

Rossi tied to con the Scottish courts into believing he was Arthur Knight, an Irish orphan who had never been to the United States.

But, after months of court hearings, in November Sheriff McFadyen ruled he was the man American authorities were seeking in connection with rape and sexual assault charges.

It has been alleged he faked his own death in 2020 and fled to Scotland to evade prosecution before he was arrested in December 2021.

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Last month Rossi, who attends court in an electric wheelchair, had applied for bail but it was ruled he posed a “substantial risk of absconding”.

Rossi was first arrested in October last year after checking himself into the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow with Covid-19.

While in Scotland, under the alias Knight and posing as a tutor, Rossi developed Covid pneumonitis and became “the sickest patient on the ward”, according to medical staff who were caring for him at the time.

It was at this point Police Scotland officers were issued with an Interpol red notice, with pictures of the wanted man, including images of his tattoos, and fingerprints.

Rossi has been remanded in custody.