The tragedy of Scott Hapgood

Armstrong Williams | 9/5/2019, 2:47 p.m.
When UBS banker and father of three Scott Hapgood was arrested and charged with manslaughter in Anguilla, I was one ...
Armstrong Williams

When UBS banker and father of three Scott Hapgood was arrested and charged with manslaughter in Anguilla, I was one of the first and most vocal observers to sound an alarm. I declared Hapgood an American hero for defending his life and the lives of his young daughters when confronted by an armed attacker inside his hotel room while on vacation.

From day one it was clear to me that he was no murderer, but instead a man forced to do the unthinkable when unexpectedly forced into a literal fight to survive. After all, who in their right mind would believe that an affluent, family-oriented man from Connecticut would decide to take the life of a hotel maintenance worker in Anguilla—in front of his own children mind you—for no reason?

Unfortunately for Hapgood, since that day he has been victimized repeatedly and it continues still.

He was victimized for the first time when Kenny Mitchel showed up unexpectedly at this hotel room, pretending to fix his sink. Once gaining access to the room, Mitchel violently stabbed, bit and robbed Hapgood.

Hapgood was victimized for the second time when authorities in Anguilla denied him bail and threw him into prison when he was clearly guilty of nothing more than defending his life and those of his children.

Today, Hapgood is being victimized yet again by being forced to stand trial in a foreign territory with an ill-prepared judiciary, even though a cursory examination of the facts demonstrates that such a process is needless.

In the months since the news broke of Hapgood’s ill-fated Anguillan vacation, more facts have come to light that should have exonerated him fully and led to the charges being dropped. The man who attacked him, Kenny Mitchel, is hardly the sainted figure that his friends and family members have described to reporters. At the time of the attack on Hapgood, Kenny Mitchel was actually out on bail, having been arrested for allegedly raping the mother of his child.

As if a history of charges for violent criminal behavior were not damning enough, a long-overdue toxicology report that was widely reported in the press provided definitive proof that Mitchel was under the influence of a dangerous mix of cocaine, marijuana and other substances.

This should call into question whether or not Hapgood was even responsible for the death of his attacker or if Mitchel simply died following extensive physical exertion while high on what Hapgood’s representatives have described a “lethal cocktail” of illegal drugs.

Despite knowing all of this, authorities in Anguilla appear committed to pursuing charges against the American family man. There has been widespread anger on the island from day one, including public demonstrations following Hapgood’s arrest. The move to proceed with legal prosecution, in the face of such clear facts, smacks of political motivation aimed at appeasing a populace out to avenge the death of one of their own.

Also, a fragile economy that depends upon tourism probably feels that it cannot afford to have safety on the island called into question. Better to blame Hapgood than for tourists to avoid traveling to Anguilla out of fear that someone on the staff of the five-star resort where their family is staying could turn out to be a drugged-up armed robber who was just set from the jailhouse following an arrest for rape.