The Connecticut banker who refused to return for a hearing over the death of a Anguilla hotel worker is ‘at peace’ with his decision, according to his wife.
Scott Hapgood, 46, and his family say a hotel worker, Kenny Mitchel, 27, of Dominica, showed up at their room unannounced during their April vacation and demanded money, then attacked them. Mitchel died, and Hapgood, who said he acted in self-defense, was charged with manslaughter.
Hapgood did not return to the Caribbean island on Monday, citing the vicious death threats he has received and concerns about receiving a fair trial.
His wife Kallie told The New York Post: ‘As stressful as the past week has been, we are happy we followed the advice of our legal counsel and confident we made the right decision for Scott and our family.’
Hapgood is understood to have stayed in the US rather than risk being jailed for ‘two year waiting for trial to begin’.
Kallie added: ‘Anguillian officials also told us throughout this process they could not guarantee Scott’s safety, which is not surprising considering the threats we’ve received on social media and the taunts of prisoners in jail that they planned to “bash his head in”.’
Scott Hapgood, pictured with his wife Kallie, was due in court in Anguilla on Monday on manslaughter charges. Hapgood is understood to have stayed in the US rather than risk being jailed for ‘two year waiting for trial to begin’
Scott Hapgood, 46, and his family say a hotel worker, Kenny Mitchel, 27, pictured, of Dominica, showed up at their room unannounced and demanded money, then attacked them. Mitchel died, and Hapgood, who said he acted in self-defense, was charged with manslaughter
But Anguilla’s attorney general said Hapgood’s concerns about his safety and the fairness of proceedings are ‘totally groundless’.
Anguilla Attorney General Dwight Horsford issued a warrant for Hapgood’s arrest following his no show, stating: ‘A bench warrant will be sought from the High Court Judge for his arrest. When this is shortly obtained this will be circulated through Interpol to police forces around the world.’
Anguilla is subject to an extradition treaty between the U.S. and Britain and lawyer Juliya Arbisman said: ‘My understanding is that there is a whole layer of international processes, so it would be hasty and very oversimplified just to say just because there is an order it entitles someone to go pluck somebody from their home.’
The case has caused racial tensions on the territory of nearly 15,000 people, and many Anguillans demanded that Hapgood return to face justice after he was initially released on bond.
Scott’s wife Kallie, pictured hugging their daughters, said: ‘We are happy we followed the advice of our legal counsel and confident we made the right decision for Scott and our family’
Hapgood and his family were staying at the Malliouhana Hotel (pictured) in April when he and Mitchel got into a fight when the latter appeared at his hotel room
Shocking recordings of threats made against Hapgood have been cited in his failure to return.
The family released sick voicemail messages, which he received on April 25 from a Connecticut area code, repeatedly mentioning his daughters.
‘This is going to come back to you, my friend. It will come back to you. You are a racist ass,’ the unidentified male caller told Hapgood in the message.
‘And if I ever see your punk a** in Connecticut, I swear to God I’m going to jump you.’
The caller continues: ‘I swear to God this thing is going to come so quick you are never gonna expect what the f**k happened to you.
‘If I ever see you in Connecticut, you better get up outta here quick. Because the community is going to come round up your ass. And I hope your motherf***ing punk a** daughters are there too (expletive) watching. Try me.’
A toxicology report said Mitchel had cocaine in his system at the time, but prosecutors pressed charges nonetheless after massive outcry from islanders to make an example of Hapgood.
Anguilla’s attorney general said Hapgood’s concerns about his safety and the fairness of proceedings are ‘totally groundless’.
‘Other formal processes will now commence regarding Hapgood who is now a fugitive,’ the attorney general’s office said. ‘The Crown remains determined to progress this case.’
The voicemail is just one of many threats that Hapgood and his family say they have received since the April incident that ended in Mitchel’s death, spokesman Jamie Diaferia told the Darien Times, which released audio of the voicemail.
On Monday, Hapgood’s attorney attended the hearing in his place.
Hapgood, pictured afterwards left, said Mitchel produced a knife and fought him. Mitchel, right, had lethal amounts of cocaine in his system when he died
His spokesman told DailyMail.com: ‘There is a significant likelihood Scott’s incarceration would be indefinite, as a trial may not happen for many years.
‘Second, 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.
‘For these reasons, Scott has not returned to Anguilla.’
He declined to state whether the banker would ever agree to go back, saying only: ‘We’re only focused on this particular hearing at the moment, so we have no comment on whether he would return in the future.’
Hapgood, he added, offered to appear via video link but his spokesman says the court refused.
He also says it is ‘abundantly clear’ that the case against him is prejudiced.
‘Seven months ago, an employee of the Malliouhana Hotel on the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla, who was high on a cocktail of drugs including cocaine and had a pending rape charge, entered Scott Hapgood’s hotel room under false pretenses, attacked Scott and threatened the lives of two of his minor children. In response, Scott defended himself and his children,’ he said.
‘When the attacker died – in the hospital about an hour after the attack – Scott was charged with manslaughter. Three independent medical experts have now concluded that the attacker died due to the drugs in his system.
‘Despite the unfairness of the charge continuing, Scott has cooperated with the Anguillan legal process and has returned to the island three times for hearings in an effort to clear his name.
‘But it has become progressively apparent that Scott would not receive a fair trial in Anguilla.’
The 46-year-old banker was allowed to return back to the US in April after posting $75,000 in bail money. He has since returned to Anguilla several times for appearances (he is shown in August) but his legal team now say it is too dangerous for him to go back
His team claims witnesses ‘altered their accounts’, submitted false statements and that the state hid a toxicology report which speaks to how many drugs Mitchel had taken at the time of his death.
‘An inflammatory and false rhetoric has also grown around this case. Scott was accused of perpetrating racial violence. In many of the witness statements submitted into evidence by the Crown, Scott was referred to as simply ‘the Caucasian’ or the ‘white man.’
‘These accusations are deeply offensive and wrong. Scott’s race, and Kenny Mitchel’s race, are irrelevant to the facts of what happened,’ he added.
Prosecutors in Anguilla are yet to respond to his comments and allegations.
Mitchel’s friends and family have already disputed Hapgood’s version of events and his team’s characterization of the hotel worker.
Hapgood’s attorney, Juliya Arbisman, said: ‘We understand there will be people in Anguilla who say Scott is running from a trial. That is 100 percent false.
‘There is nothing Scott wants more than to clear his name and get his life back. 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.’