Foul play suspected in death of British AIDS expert
CASTRIES, St Lucia, Wednesday May 16, 2012 – Questions are being raised about the death of an Englishwoman who relocated to St Lucia with her Rastafarian husband.
Hilary Hughes-Augustin, an expert on AIDS, died in a St Lucia hospital two weeks after she was admitted for the treatment of undisclosed injuries.
The 50-year-old woman’s death was initially believed to be a “sudden accident”, but police told Britain’s Mail on Sunday that it was now the subject of a “possible murder” investigation after a post-mortem examination raised suspicions of foul play.
According to the report, Hughes-Augustin's devastated father Barry Hughes, a professor of civil engineering at Birmingham University, said he was waiting for news from the police following his daughter’s death earlier this month.
“There's not much we can say at the moment. We may know more in a few days,” he told the newspaper.
Police initially said Hughes-Augustin, who styled her hair in dreadlocks after marrying a local Rastafarian understood to be Cleus Augustin, had been the victim of a tragic accident.
But, according to the Mail report, Sergeant Emmanuel, acting inspector in charge of the criminal investigation division of the Royal St Lucia Police, said: “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 merit of this case and have not ruled out this being a murder as opposed to an accident, as was originally thought,” the officer reportedly said.
A doctor at the hospital where Hughes-Augustin was treated said a post-¬mortem examination concluded that her death “was not sudden” as police had said, the Mail report continued.
The Mail also noted that Hughes-Augustin had petitioned for divorce against her husband in April last year. She was seeking to have the marriage dissolved on the grounds that it had lasted less than five years.
Police were quoted as saying that Hughes-Augustin and her husband bought a small house in the rural north-west of the island. Officers paid her a visit after she complained of being defrauded in a land transaction. “She wanted to press charges, but there was ¬insufficient evidence,” said police, according to the report.
The late Hilary Hughes-Augustin was born in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, and attended King's High School for Girls, a £10,000-a-year day school in Warwick. She later graduated from the University of York.
During her career as an expert on AIDS and sexual health, she worked around the world advising major non-profit organisations and served as director of an international development company.
She previously worked in health care in Eastern Europe, the United States and Switzerland. In October 2009 she started her own company, Hughes Consulting, from the Caribbean, specialising in advising on AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.