A Connecticut banker accused of killing a hotel worker during a family vacation in Anguilla didn’t show up to court Monday on the tiny Caribbean isle out of fear for his safety, his spokesman said.
Scott Hapgood, 44, was to begin Monday the final segment of a series of sealed hearings known as a preliminary inquest, which was expected to last one week. At the conclusion, he would learn whether his manslaughter case would go to trial and be heard by a jury.
“It has become progressively apparent that Scott would not receive a fair trial in Anguilla,” said Hapgood’s spokesman Jamie Diaferia, of Infinite Global, who said Monday’s hearing would proceed without Hapgood, who has a local attorney present.
Diaferia said that in the lead-up to Monday’s hearing, Hapgood’s legal team tried to obtain guarantees from Anguillan authorities that he would be protected upon his return and permitted to remain out on bail. “Anguillan officials have declined to give any such assurances,” he said.
Hapgood offered to appear by video link which was rejected, the statement said.
If Hapgood’s bail was revoked, he’d likely be incarcerated for years while awaiting trial.
“There is near certainty the death threats he has received will come to fruition if he were to be held in an Anguillan prison for any length of time,” the spokesman said.
The UBS investment banker has returned to the island three times since he was arrested and charged with the April 13 death of 27-year-old Kenny Mitchel. He was released on $74,000 bond, angering many locals.
The father of three told authorities that during the family’s trip seven months ago to the luxury Malliouhana Hotel, a drug-addled Mitchel showed up to their hotel room, whipped out a knife and demanded money.
A violent struggle ensued between the hotel worker and Hapgood, whose two young daughters were inside the room at the time. Mitchel died at the hospital an hour later.
The coroner had first ruled that Mitchel died of asphyxiation during his struggle with Hapgood but changed the cause of death to cocaine and alcohol toxicity in light of toxicology results.
Diaferia said that “politics are governing Scott’s case rather than the law and the facts.”
During the hearings, a revised cause of death was ignored, a toxicology report suppressed and witnesses submitted false statements, according to Hapgood’s legal team.
Diaferia added that inflammatory rhetoric accusing Hapgood of perpetrating “racial violence” had further biased the case.
Hapgood’s international lawyer, Juliya Arbisman, said that there is nothing Hapgood wants more than to fight the charges, “But he cannot clear his name if he is dead, or if the legal process by which he is bound is fundamentally biased and unjust.”
Local talk-show host and former parliamentary secretary for tourism Haydn Hughes said that Hapgood skipping out on his court date proved the case against him was strong. “He realized he was in deep trouble,” Hughes said. “From the very beginning, he was lying.”