CASTRIES, St. Lucia, May 24, CMC – Police have described as “suspicious” the circumstances surrounding the recent death of a British born HIV/AIDS expert employed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international agencies.
Hilary Hughes-Augustine, 50, whose presence here has been under the scrutiny of the United Kingdom press, died at hospital earlier this month nearly three weeks after she was admitted to a hospital here for treatment of undisclosed injuries.
The British public health expert was married to a local builder, Cleus Augustin, and lived at La Guerre Babonneau, a community north east of the capital, where she owned a house.
Assistant Police Commissioner Frances Henry told a news conference that her department first received information about the Britiash woman on April 27 when she was admitted to hospital, but was unable to speak to her as she remained comatose until her death on May 4.
She said that the results of the post mortem which she did not disclose, made it absolutely necessary to engage in consultation with the pathologist and attending physicians during her period of illness.
“At that point it was determined that more investigation was needed, and samples obtained during her autopsy have been sent to the lab.
“Thus far none of the individuals from whom information has been solicited or from whom statements were obtained are being treated as suspects or persons of interest in the case, instead they are being viewed as witnesses,” the Assistant Commissioner said.
She said that “suspicious death” has been given as the initial determination by police regarding Hughes-Augustine’s demise as police continue an “active death investigation.
“Based on the information we have, coupled with the results of the autopsy that we received, the determination was made to treat this matter as a suspicious death, meaning that we are disposed to suspect that something may be wrong,” ACP Henry emphasized.
Explaining why an official statement on her death came close to three weeks after her demise, the crime chief said that there was no undue delay as based on the findings the situation needed to be handled meticulously bearing in mind that certain inherent protocols needed to be abided by, so as not to prejudice the jury pool in the event that the matter be brought to court.
She took umbrage to the information being carried in the British press stating that the island’s image as a tourist destination is being tarnished by the depictions of St. Lucia and which cites a rancorous and sometimes violent relationship between husband and wife, which the Police were made aware of.
“The way the stories are prepared and disseminated, subliminally one can made the assertion that, in St. Lucia if you are a British National you should not be romantically involved with a local because you will sue die. This is the message that comes our subliminally,” she said.
The UK press quoted local police as initially claiming that Hughes-Augustine who styled her hair in dreadlocks after marrying Cleus Augustine a local rastafarian, had been the victim of a tragic accident.
The Daily Mail quoted a senior police officer as saying that what was thought to be an accident could now turn into a murder investigation.
“The evidence warrants a full criminal investigation. We need to establish the merits of this case and have not ruled out this being a murder as opposed to an accident as was originally thought,” the paper quoted the officer as saying.