The Connecticut banker charged with manslaughter over the death of a hotel worker in Anguilla has refused to fly back to the island for his most recent court appearance, claiming he will never get a fair trial, may be thrown in jail upon arrival and that he is receiving death threats.
Scott Hapgood, 46, was due in court in Anguilla on Monday morning for the latest hearing in his case.
In April, hotel worker Kenny Mitchel, 27, died after fighting with Hapgood in the room of his five-star hotel. Hapgood says he arrived at his family’s room unannounced and with a knife.
They also refer to a toxicology report which said the man had cocaine in his system at the time.
Prosecutors on the island however brought charges. The case has outraged local residents who are now calling for Hapgood to be made an example of.
On Monday, his attorney attended a hearing during which a judge will decide whether or not the case should proceed to jury trial.
Hapgood himself did not. His spokesman told DailyMail.com that he could not, given the circumstances, for fear of attack or being thrown in jail.
‘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 said.
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.
They also say 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.
‘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,’ he said.
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.’
The hearing on whether or not the case should go to trial is expected to last two days.
Earlier this week, his mother-in-law gave an interview voicing the same fears as he has shared.
‘I’m very hopeful that we will get some sort of guarantee he will return.
‘What we’re most afraid of is that they will decide to remand him to prison meaning he will be stuck on the island.
‘He knows he’s innocent and he wants to clear his name.’