Pieces of puzzle still missing in British woman’s death

There will always be women like her, and a good supply of men like him just waiting for them to come along. Pity we have to hear about it.”
A recent article on the Mail Online entitled: ‘Voodoo, violence and a mysterious death: Heartbroken parents reveal how British AIDS expert’s new life in St Lucia turned into a nightmare’ opened the floodgates for people all over the world to air their opinions about something they felt was becoming all too common.
“Whenever a wealthy, middle-aged, British divorcee steps off a plane, the local men form a line,” another blogger wrote.
The article paints quite a nightmarish picture of St Lucia and brings forth a far-fetched perspective of the island that has been seen far too many times to count. Typical poor society where people live in ‘tin houses’ and the grand majority “practice a form of voodoo called Obeah.”          The peculiar story about the death of a British national in St Lucia has attracted the interest of the international and local media, even though police say her death is “not considered a homicide at this point.”
Hilary Hughes, who was an AIDS expert for the World Heath Organization frequently traveled around the world for the sake of her job, but it was St Lucia that really seemed to tug at her heartstrings. The 50-year-old woman made up her mind, sold her house in West Sussex and purchased land in La Guerre, Babonneau to build a house. Her fairytale seemed to be coming together when she fell in love with and wed Cleus Augustin, a Rastafarian St Lucian national who was 17 years younger. Reports from the Mail Online claim Augustin was “the muscular young builder she had employed to construct her house.”
Things took a turn for the worse, according to Hilary’s parents, when she started relating to them that she’d been defrauded over her land purchase and she faced “voodoo-style intimidation—with dead animals left outside her £120,000 house.” Reports of domestic violence also started emerging out of her union and according to reports, Hilary filed a petition for divorce in 2011.
In an unfortunate turn of circumstances Hughes was admitted to hospital in April. According to the Mail Online she suffered a stroke and a heart attack one day later.
“Initially, the death was described by the police as a ‘tragic accident’ and due to ‘natural causes’ but on Sunday The Mail revealed that officers had changed their minds and had made it a criminal investigation,” the Mail Online article reads.
Almost three weeks after Hilary’s death, St Lucia police called a press conference at the Criminal Investigations Department. Local police labeled Hilary’s death as “suspicious.”
Never mind the time it took for police to release any information on the matter to the local media, ACP of Crime Frances Henry fielded the media’s questions at the press conference on May 23.
“I think it’s very opportune at this point to have called you in, owing to all of the media frenzy, whether it is local or international, as it relates to the circumstances surrounding the death of a British national,” Henry stated.
The Crime ACP she’d received information on Friday, April 27 at about 2pm. Based on that information she “immediately gathered members of the Vulnerable Persons Unit and the Major Crime Investigation unit, briefed and dispatched them to the Victoria Hospital. Upon arrival officers went to the Intensive Care Unit where they engaged medical personnel, which according to Henry included the attending physicians and nursing staff.
“An individual was pointed out to them,” she retold. “A female laying on a bed in the Intensive Care Unit who was comatose. Her identity was later obtained [and] having obtained that information we enlisted the support of medical staff and learnt she had been admitted to hospital on April 15.
“I gave further instructions that we would commence an investigation into the circumstances which led her to be hospitalized,” Henry continued. “Having done that we continued to visit her at the hospital but could not speak to her considering her medical condition. We sought to progress the investigation by speaking with a number of other individuals during which time her heath seemingly deteriorated. On May 4 we received information, which indicated she succumbed to her injury.”
The police representative revealed a post mortem was conducted on May 8, after which she’d received a copy of the death certificate “which spoke to cause of death.”
“At this point in time, I am not minded to make that public,” Henry said. “Having said that it became absolutely necessary to engage in some measure of consultation with the pathologist and attending physicians during her period of illness and admission at hospital. A determination was made that there needs to be more investigation and as a consequence samples, which were obtained during the autopsy have been sent for testing.
“In spite of this investigations have continued,” Henry added. “We have engaged a number of agencies and a number of individuals who may have an interest in this particular matter, including the family court, social services, a few attorneys and others. I’d like to state here categorically, based on the information we had coupled with the result of autopsy, the determination was made to treat this matter as a suspicious death. Meaning that we are disposed to suspect something may be wrong. A number of individuals have been interviewed, statements obtained and I’d like to state here empathically that none of the individuals we have solicited information from, or obtained statements from are being looked at as suspects or persons of interest. At this point in time they are all being viewed as witness in the matter.”
Commenting on accusations of a cover up in the matter, Henry told local media: “Categorically there’s been no cover up. It’s very interesting that we have a number of persons in this society, locally and otherwise who thrive on a lot on innuendo, gossip, humour—people have so much to say. At this juncture like I indicated I’ve heard a lot of what obtains in the press. I read a lot, whether it’s from the international press and I’m appalled at the behaviour. I want to caution people that investigations and possibly trials are not something you will get by coming out and making public pronouncements. Persons out there who have information, who believe it is useful, this is the opportunity for them to engage the police. Really and truly this is not a situation that is open and shut. Hence the reason I indicated, there have been a number of players.”
When asked how some of the information disseminated by the British press had affected the police fact finding mission, and whether there were there concerns that the information would interfere with investigations Henry responded: “Naturally, you would always be concerned. It’s not just the concern that it interferes with the investigation, but what it does to the country as a destination. I’m sure you would have an appreciation for what obtains in the British press which labels our society as one that is impoverished, that everyone in St Lucia is either practicing voodoo or that we live in little tin houses. I mean, for crying out loud, we know that is furthest from the truth. The way the story is disseminated, subliminally one can make the assertion that hey look, in St Lucia if you’re a British national you should not be romantically involved with a local because you will sure die. This is the message that comes out subliminally. The Royal St Lucian Police Force has a cadre of men and women who are trained, and we get beyond the hurdles. In pursuit of this investigation, the assistance we’ve been receiving is overwhelming.                 “We have provided an opportunity of transparency.                 “We often engage the media and we engage everybody who solicits information from the police department. The Royal St Lucian Police Force remains committed in its resolve to pursue this matter. Just as we are in pursuit to bring closure to victim’s family we must appreciate that our constitution provides that a man is innocent until proven guilty.”

The case of the death of Hilary Hughes has more questions than answers.

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