‘I perceive your anger,’ Darien man accused of killing Caribbean lodge employee tells islanders

DARIEN – Scott Hapgood says he and the angry Anguilla natives he encountered when he appeared in court this week have the same goal.

“We all want the same thing: justice,” Hapgood said in a statement.

The 44-year-old Hapgood was charged with manslaughter in the death of 27-year-old Kenny Mitchel. Hapgood, a Darien resident on leave from his job as a UBS dealer, was accused of killing the hotel worker in April during a violent fight while on vacation with his family in the Caribbean.

Hapgood attorney Juliya Arbisman of Amsterdam & Partners LLP said Anguilla police had warned of possible threats of violence as her client returned to the island several times over the past week to appear in court.

Hapgood, who spoke publicly for the first time on Tuesday, released a statement after briefly appearing in court in Anguilla on Thursday.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to appear in Anguillan courts today because with every court appearance we have come one step closer to that nightmare – a nightmare for my family, but also for the people of Anguilla,” Hapgood said in the statement.

“We have come to your beautiful island for a vacation, just like many thousands of others every year. We came here because you are all so welcoming. Unfortunately, my family and I were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and in an instant a tragedy struck that changed our and your lives forever. “

Marshal Mitchel, Kenny Mitchel’s half-brother, spoke to a group of reporters outside the Anguilla courthouse Thursday, saying the family wanted justice.

“As long as he goes to jail, justice will be served,” Marshall Mitchel said, according to the New York Post. “He (Hapgood) had enough time to let go of my brother. He has to understand that he took his own life. “

The Hapgood family said the Darien man defended himself and his young children, ages 14, 12, and 9 after Mitchel came into their room to fix a sink. Hapgood claimed the sink was never broken and no one asked to come into his room, but he trusted Mitchel because he was wearing a hotel uniform.

The family has accused Mitchel of pulling a knife, which resulted in Hapgood “fighting for his life” and being bitten multiple times, including in the face.

A toxicology report released last week found that Mitchel tested positive for cocaine, Delta-9 THC (the active ingredient in marijuana), and other drugs. The report also showed that Mitchel had a blood alcohol level of 0.181, which is more than double the legal limit in the United States and the United Kingdom of 0.08.

“The toxicological report confirms that Scott Hapgood had no choice but to defend himself and his children from a frenzied attack by a man under the influence of a dangerous combination of illegal drugs and alcohol,” Arbisman said in a prepared statement Monday.

Mitchel was also charged with rape following an incident involving his former girlfriend and mother of their child on March 25, according to a report in the New York Times. The case was pending when he died.

However, the woman told the Times that Mitchel did not rape her and that the incident that led to his arrest was “a misunderstanding”.

The island’s residents were outraged. Hapgood was allowed to return to Connecticut after Mitchell’s death. Hapgood was originally held in Her Majesty’s Anguilla Prison when he was denied bail. However, he was later released on bail after his attorney appealed to the High Court.

“I understand your anger,” Hapgood told Anguilla residents in a statement released on Thursday. “I read the same false facts and untrue stories about what supposedly happened in this room on that fateful day in April. If I lived here and believed these stories, I would be angry too. But the stories that you read and heard are not what happened, and one day I’ll be able to tell the real story in a legal setting. The earlier that day comes, the better. “

The matter has been adjourned until September 9, when the preliminary investigation begins, according to a Facebook message sent to Hearst by the Royal Anguilla Police Force after Thursday’s trial.