An American tourist accused of killing a resort worker on the Caribbean island of Anguilla said he and his family have been “living a nightmare” for the past few months.
Gavin Scott Hapgood, 44, spoke at a press conference in New York Tuesday for the first time since he was charged with manslaughter in April in the death of Kenny Mitchel, a 27-year old maintenance worker at the Malliouhana resort. Hapgood, a financier in Connecticut, remains free on $75,000 bond.
Hapgood and his family had been vacationing in Anguilla when he says Mitchel came to their room uninvited and a fight ensued. The circumstances surrounding Mitchel’s death are unclear.
“On April 13, my family’s life was changed forever. Since that day, we’ve been living a nightmare that has gradually become a reality as we meet daily with lawyers, navigate threats to our safety,” said Hapgood, who has said he acted in self-defense.
Part of that nightmare has been dealing with threats of violence, he said.
His international lawyer Juliya Arbisman, said police have informed them of threats “multiple times” since August 1.
“We know that the threat was sufficient to have triggered what the police refer to as an Osman warning, which is an obligation under the UK law to provide disclosure and information that there is an existing threat to life,” she said.
Hapgood has also been threatened online, according to Arbisman. In April, the Royal Anguilla Police Force decried users’ comments on its Facebook page that “have no foundation in fact and are likely to incite racial hatred and can prejudice a jury especially since they will be chosen from among the community of Anguilla.”
On Monday, Hapgood and Arbisman traveled to the British territory for a mandated court hearing.
Arbisman said police have told them it’s unsafe for them to be there for long, but authorities have required Hapgood to show up for court proceedings. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
“We were advised in the context of a security warning by the police authorities that the less time in Anguilla that he spends, the better,” she said.
“We have traveled with security detail, and we understand that security was provided by the police,” Arbisman added.
CNN is reaching out to the island’s attorney general and police in Anguilla.
On April 13, minutes after Hapgood’s daughters, then 11 and 13 years old, arrived back in their room, a man dressed in a hotel uniform knocked on their door, the family said in a statement shortly after the incident.
“Neither invited nor expected, the worker showed up unannounced in uniform at the hotel room, claiming he was there to fix a broken sink before carrying out his sudden, violent attack on the family,” Kelcey Kintner, a spokeswoman for Hapgood, said in an April statement.
Hapgood said the sinks weren’t broken, as far as he knew, but the man could look, his family said.
According to the family, Mitchel was armed and demanded money. A fight broke out and Mitchel bit Hapgood multiple times, including on his face.
Mitchel’s uncle, Victor Mitchel, said in an April interview with CBS News that he was not a violent person. “Kenny was just not a person who’d give anybody problems,” he said.
An autopsy revealed the cause of Mitchel’s death was “prone restraint and positional asphyxia,” Anguilla police spokesman Randy Dick said in a statement. There were also signs of blunt force trauma to the head, torso and abdomen, the report said.
The family says Hapgood did not choke Mitchel; a security guard arrived and restrained Mitchel.
Hapgood was taken to the hospital for medical treatment and was later arrested.
He left the territory on condition that he return for the August 22 court date and subsequent hearings.
Hapgood said Tuesday that “a great deal of misinformation and outright falsehoods” have surrounded the incident.
“I’m hopeful that when the real story is presented to the public, the people of Anguilla will understand how this tragic event unfolded,” Hapgood said.
CNN’s Abel Alvarado, Rob Frehse, Dakin Andone, AJ Davis, Madeline Thompson and Mirna Alsharif contributed to this report.