A family is in mourning and prison officials, police officers, the Ministry of National Security, relatives and friends are in shock at the sudden death of Prison Superintendent Anthony Hopkins, who died within minutes of complaining of feeling ill yesterday morning.
Hopkins, 54, was reportedly at home talking to his wife, Petronella, when he began experiencing chest pains. His wife, a police corporal, reportedly took him to Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC).
“She (Hopkins’ wife) said he started feeling ill early this morning (Thursday) and she suggested he take his medication which was recommended for his hypertension but his condition didn’t improve and she took him to the hospital. He died not too long after he got there,” a family friend said.
Hopkins, a father of three, received his official appointment as Prison Superintendent at Her Majesty’s “1735” Prison on January 15, 2009, a year after he was removed from the post of Assistant Commissioner of Police in the Royal Police Force of Antigua & Barbuda, after having served for 32 years.
Since joining the prison staff, Superintendent Hopkins has focused on prison welfare and rehabilitating prisoners, with the aid of the Gender Affairs Division. His aim was to help reintegrate ex-prisoners into society when they would have completed their sentence.
In an interview in late 2009, the superintendent revealed he had been ardent in his efforts to help prevent stigmatisation of prisoners and he reached out personally to businessmen and women seeking their co-operation to train and or hire ex-convicts.
Another of Hopkins’ visions, which he had shared with this newspaper upon his appointment – was to see the reintroduction of the prison farm so that the institution could be self-sufficient in food.
Somber, quiet and shocked is how Chief Officer Percy Adams, who is now acting superintendent of Her Majesty’s Prison, described the mood at the facility following the death.
He said Hopkins died doing what he loved most, as up to yesterday, he participated in interviewing persons to take up positions at the short-staffed prison.
“His death has left a void here,” Adams said.
“Shocked” was the first word Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Anthony Armstrong used to describe news of the prison superintendent’s death.
“It has come as an extreme shock to me. The last time I saw him was about a day or two before the opening of the assizes last month during our office’s meeting. And just over a month later, he is no longer with us. It is a stark and painful reminder about how fragile our lives are,” the DPP said.
Reacting to the news also was Minister of National Security Dr Errol Cort, who said, “I was most shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden death of Superintendent Anthony Hopkins, who, as recent as yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon, engaged in a meeting at the Ministry of National Security. The officers of Her Majesty’s Prison and on my own behalf, we wish to express our sincere condolences to the family of Superintendent Anthony Hopkins.”
Hopkins was known to have been hypertensive, but his condition worsened in the last two years resulting in his being hospitalised several times during that period.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)