Scott Hapgood faces lawsuit in death of Anguillan hotel worker

DARIEN — What exactly happened in an Anguillan hotel room where a worker died in April depends on who you ask.

While Darien’s Scott Hapgood has contended he acted in self-defense, the family of Kenny Mitchel claim in a wrongful death lawsuit filed this week that he was the victim of an unprovoked attack.

Mitchel’s estate claims the 27-year-old’s death was caused by Hapgood’s negligence when the two men fought in a room at the Malliouhana resort. The estate is seeking damages of more than $75,000 for the physical and emotional pain caused to Mitchel, and because he can not provide for his 2-year-old daughter, her mother and his own father who “would likely have come to depend on his son for income and support in later years.”

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Connecticut U.S. District Court by attorneys for Emily Rebecca Garlick, the mother of Mitchel's daughter, and Mitchel’s father, Gerard Neville Mitchell (who spells his last name differently from his son). Both have been appointed representatives of Mitchel's estate.

Mitchel was charged with sexually assaulting Garlick a few weeks before his death and continued to work at the hotel while the charges were pending. Garlick recanted the accusations after Mitchel died.

The suit describes the events leading to Mitchel’s death on April 13, 2019. At the time, the Hapgood family was staying in a two-bedroom suite at the Malliouhana resort where Mitchel worked as a handyman for “sometime,” according to the lawsuit.

Mitchel went to Hapgood’s room around 3:30 p.m. that day, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit does not specify why Mitchel went to the room or whether he was called there. The Hapgood family has said Mitchel came to fix a sink they did not report as broken.

According to the lawsuit, Hapgood and Mitchel walked to the bathroom, where the fight ensued. Hapgood restrained Mitchel and pinned him to the floor, the lawsuit said. Hapgood then straddled Mitchel, pushing his elbow across his neck, the lawsuit said.

The Darien man allegedly continued to press down on Mitchel’s neck and punched him for more than a half an hour, the lawsuit said. The suit also describes Mitchel as being “substantially smaller” than Hapgood.

The lawsuit does not say what prompted the attack, but the Hapgood family said Mitchel was armed with a knife and attacked the Darien man, demanding money while two of his children were in the room. The family has shared photos of injuries Hapgood allegedly sustained during the altercation that included scratches on his face and neck.

The lawsuit said Mitchel died of prone restraint, positional asphyxia and blunt-force trauma to the head, neck and torso. This aligns with what Mitchel’s initial autopsy said. However, a toxicology report later found Mitchel had a lethal amount of cocaine in his system.

A spokesman for Hapgood’s family declined to comment because the lawsuit has not yet been served. Steven L. Seligmen, the Hartford attorney representing Mitchel’s estate, also declined to comment.

Hapgood is facing manslaughter charges and is now considered a fugitive after refusing to return to the Caribbean island last month for his latest court appearance, citing safety concerns and lack of faith in receiving a fair trial. Anguillan authorities said they were seeking an arrest warrant to bring Hapgood back to the island, but it has not been issued.

The case has drawn international interest with Anguillans calling for Hapgood to be charged with murder. In the United States, Hapgood has drawn widespread support.