Death in paradise: Witness describes struggle between UBS banker, Anguilla hotel worker
It was late afternoon on the stunning Caribbean island of Anguilla when two girls rushed to the front desk begging for help.
At first, a worker at the five-star Malliouhana hotel thought the sisters were just playing. But then he got to their room, where a bloody fight between a resort staffer and a Connecticut banker was unfolding — and would end in the staffer’s death and the guest’s arrest for manslaughter.
“I was the first to go inside the room,” the worker, who witnessed part of the April 13 struggle, told Page Six on condition of anonymity.
He described finding the girls’ father, UBS financial adviser Gavin Scott Hapgood of Darien, in Room 49, looking “beyond angry” and “slightly deranged” as he held down a seemingly unconscious, barely breathing hotel worker. He refused to let go until police arrived, the source said.
Hapgood’s family says the 44-year-old banker was forced to act in self-defense when resort hand Kenny Mitchel, 27, “showed up unannounced in uniform … claiming he was there to fix a broken sink before carrying out his sudden, violent attack on the family.”
When the source walked into the room, he says, Hapgood claimed Mitchel had come at him with a knife, “asking for all my money and money from my daughters.”
The source says he saw a knife in the room — a “Leatherman’s knife, and it was slightly open but [the blade] was not fully out.” He claims he saw streaks of blood lining the floors and leading to the bathroom.
Hapgood, a former Ivy League lacrosse and football player, was straddling Mitchel, “sitting on his stomach” and “holding his right hand across his body on his left side. His elbow was on his neck,” the worker said. With his left hand and forearm, Hapgood pushed down on Mitchel’s face and neck, according to the source. “[Mitchel] seemed unconscious,” he said.
Since the incident, the island has been abuzz with rumors that hotel workers didn’t try to pry Hapgood off of Mitchel because they feared upsetting a wealthy American tourist.
But the witness says other factors were at play, including Hapgood’s towering frame and his fervent refusal to ease up.
“Hapgood would not move because he didn’t trust us,” the source said.
When a security guard — who was “much smaller than Mr. Hapgood” — showed up, the banker said he wasn’t getting off of Mitchel until the cops came and “kept talking about self-defense.”
Hapgood “seemed scared, but it wasn’t fully shown,” the source recalled. “You could also sense he was beyond angry and also came off slightly deranged. He wasn’t finishing sentences.”
The ordeal lasted about 20 minutes, during which the worker said he could hear Mitchel was having difficulty breathing, “like with liquid in his throat.”
“I could tell he was unconscious,” he said. “The breathing was very faint, and [he was] struggling to breathe. I heard bubbling in his throat.”
The worker said he tried reasoning with Hapgood.
“I was explaining you have to allow [Mitchel] to breathe, so ease off of him.”
But “Mr. Hapgood then began arguing with me. He wanted me to put myself in his position.”
“I said, ‘I understand,’ which seemed to further piss him off. He started getting even more aggressive and tensed up even more
“But he seemed to have eased off of his hold a bit as he became angry with me.”
The worker says he and Hapgood argued back and forth while the security guard bizarrely held Mitchel’s hand.
“[Hapgood] wanted to be assured that Kenny would remain restrained,” the source said.
“Security asked me to find duct tape,” he recalled. “I looked for anything just to restrain Kenny, so that Mr. Hapgood would get off of him. I couldn’t find any.”
As the banker loosened up, the source recalls, Mitchel regained consciousness and said, “No, no, no. Can I speak?”
“You don’t have a f- -king thing to say,” Hapgood allegedly said before tightening his hold again.
“You could see Kenny’s feet in the air,” the source said.
Then Hapgood’s wife walked in. She looked shocked and asked her husband if he was OK, the witness said.
“He said, ‘Yes, this is not my blood.’ His left hand was bleeding, little did he know. Blood was dripping from his fingertip.”
The banker’s spouse began to demand where the police were, then said she needed “to record this” and began to take pictures.
“If [the] police do not get here, this will be all over US news,” she reportedly said.
When a larger security guard came up to the room, Hapgood finally released Mitchell.
“He then went to wash his hands,” the witness said.
The Hapgoods say the wife was not in the room and deny taking photos or otherwise recording the victim.
They say their dream vacation turned into a “chilling nightmare” and a “literal fight to survive” that left Hapgood with serious injuries.
They released photos taken after the incident that show Hapgood with bite marks, bruises and a bloodied face.
“The statements from someone presumed to be a co-worker of the armed attacker are riddled with inaccuracies and paint a false and highly misleading picture of Scott’s actions to defend himself against a vicious assailant,” the family said in a statement.
“Scott Hapgood was brutally attacked by an armed intruder in front of his young children. Inside his own hotel room, Scott defended himself against the maintenance worker to save his own life and the lives of his children.
“Scott suffered multiple physical injuries from the attack but was thankfully able to restrain the attacker. Other hotel workers who did not identify themselves as security staff entered the room, but were not calling the police, despite Scott repeatedly pleading for them to do so. Scott grew even more terrified, fearing these other staff members were part of the attack.”
In a previous statement, the family denied Hapgood choked Mitchel.
“Scott himself sustained severe injuries as a result of the physical struggle which ensued,” the statement said. “Scott was literally fighting for his life. He was bitten multiple times by the attacker, including on his face.”
But the witness says the family isn’t telling the full truth.
“From my recollection, he had some bleeding from the nose,” the source said. “He also had a white shirt on, so therefore, I did not see any of that kind of blood [from the photos] on his chest.”
At one point, Hapgood’s wife lifted his shirt to show the cops a bite mark on his left breast, the witness said.
“I didn’t see it in the picture,” the witness said. “But all those other marks on him [in the photos], I did not see when his wife lifted his shirt to show the cops. All I saw was a bite mark on the left side.”
Following the incident, Hapgood was taken to the hospital to “tend to his injuries,” the family said.
It appears there was no reason for Mitchel, a married father of one, to have been in the room. The family says he arrived unannounced minutes after the girls walked back to their room on their own. Hapgood let him in because “like any of us would, he trusted a hotel staff person in uniform.”
The witness confirmed there was no record of a call to the room. Still, he said, “sometimes [hotel] guests approach you on the property and they don’t know your department and need your assistance.”
“No one knows why [Mitchel] went to the room,” the witness said. “Everyone will know from Mr. Hapgood’s perspective.”
“If [Mitchel] had lived, the situation would have been more different.”
Since his death, many locals, including a former parliamentary secretary of tourism and local radio host, have praised Mitchel’s character.
“He is a hard worker. He did a lot of jobs at the hotel, he comes from a very good family, his father has a stellar record, brother has an unblemished record,” Haydn Hughes, the ex-secretary, told The Root online magazine. “So, nobody can say that he was the type of person who would try to rip off someone or try to steal.”
“Kenny was half [Hapgood’s] size,” he added. “Even if he wanted to rob Hapgood, one look at his size would have changed his mind.”
Mitchel’s brother, Kimon Mitchel, told NBC News: “He would never try something that dumb. Even if it was possible, he would not … It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t add up.”
Hapgood learned Mitchel had died only when he gave a witness statement to the Royal Anguilla Police Force. A death certificate indicates Mitchel died “due to prone restraint, positional asphyxia and blunt force trauma to the head, neck and torso.”
After his statement to the cops, the family checked in to the Four Seasons, with the Malliouhana resort paying for their stay.
Nearly a week later, police arrested Hapgood on manslaughter charges. He was released on $74,000 bond and flew home, although he is expected in Anguilla court Aug. 22.
The family says it is fully cooperating with authorities in regards to the incident that left them “traumatized” and “thankful to be alive.”
“A fair and just process for Scott must be ensured as his future hangs in the balance,” they said.
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