Politics

UBS trader Scott Hapgood skips Anguilla court hearing month after Trump says manslaughter case looks 'very wrong'

Key Points
  • UBS trader Scott Hapgood fails to show up for a court hearing in Anguilla, where the Connecticut man is charged with manslaughter in the death of a hotel worker, Kenny Mitchel.
  • President Donald Trump has said that "something looks and sounds very wrong" about the case.
  • A spokesman for Hapgood says he "cannot return to Anguilla to clear his name" because authorities there "will not give him a fair trial or guarantee his safety."
Gavin "Scott" Hapgood, a UBS financial advisor who is accused of killing a hotel worker while on vacation in April 2019, speaks to reporters outside a courthouse in a still image from video taken in The Valley, Anguilla August 22, 2019.
Ricardo Arduengo | Reuters

A UBS trader from Connecticut who is charged with manslaughter in the death of a hotel worker in Anguilla failed to return for a court hearing on that British island territory Monday — a month after President Donald Trump said that "something looks and sounds very wrong" about the case.

A spokesman for the trader, Scott Hapgood, said the 44-year-old Darien resident cannot "return to Anguilla to clear his name" because authorities there "will not give him a fair trial or guarantee his safety."

"He's not going back," the spokesman, Jamie Diaferia, told CNBC.

Diaferia said that as Monday's hearing approached, Hapgood's legal team had worked to obtain a guarantee that he would be protected if he returned to Anguilla, and that he would be allowed to return to the United States on bail after the hearing ended.

Diaferia said Anguillan authorities declined to give those guarantees and also declined Hapgood's offer to appear at the hearing via a video link with the Caribbean island.

The case has sparked outrage on Anguilla, where Hapgood's release on bail was heavily criticized.

"We understand there will be people in Anguilla who say Scott is running from a trial. That is 100% false," said Juliya Arbisman, Hapgood's international lawyer.

"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."

Hapgood, who is on leave from UBS, is charged with killing 27-year-old Kenny Mitchel on April 13 in the Malliouhana Hotel, while two of Hapgood's children were in the room.

Hapgood claims that Mitchel, who reportedly was intoxicated by alcohol and cocaine, entered his family's hotel room under the false pretense of having been sent there to fix a broken sink.

Mitchel then attacked Hapgood — who was a defensive end on Dartmouth College's football team — with a knife after demanding money, according to Hapgood's account.

A struggle ensued, and Mitchel died shortly thereafter.

The New York Times has reported that a coroner initially ruled that Mitchel died from asphyxiation.

But the same coroner later revised that report after toxicology tests, which suggested that Mitchel "had so much cocaine in his bloodstream that he was essentially a dying man when he entered Mr. Hapgood's suite that day," the Times reported.

Hapgood, an account manager with UBS Global Management in New York, is free on a $74,000 bond.

Trump first took note of Hapgood on Oct. 14 after the Fox News show "Fox and Friends" — a favorite of the president's — aired a segment about the criminal case.

"Will be looking into the Scott Hapgood case, and the Island of Anguilla," Trump wrote in a tweet. "Something looks and sounds very wrong. I know Anguilla will want to see this case be properly and justly resolved."

The White House had no immediate comment when asked about Hapgood failing to show up for his mandated court appearance on Anguilla.

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Hapgood's spokesman Diaferia noted in a statement that, "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 statement said.

"During the process, a toxicology report was suppressed, witnesses altered their accounts and submitted new statements that were false, a revised cause of death was ignored, legal counsel was excluded from the hearing, and numerous other actions that suggested that politics are governing Scott's case rather than the law and the facts."

The statement said that if authorities revoked Hapgood's bail, "There is a significant likelihood Scott's incarceration would be indefinite, as a trial may not happen for many years."

And "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 statement said.

Hapgood's wife, Kallie Hapgood, told The New York Post last month that she had "begged him from day one not to go back there" to Anguilla.

"He knows he did nothing wrong. He's not responsible for Mitchel's death, but to me, I don't know if that is enough to keep him safe. If he were to be remanded to prison, I think it would be the equivalent of a death sentence," Kallie Hapgood told The Post.