Married socialite Jasmine Hartin, 32, is charged with manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Belize cop ‘during a massage after drinking’
Jasmine Hartin, the daughter-in-law of British billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft, has been charged with manslaughter by negligence over the death of Belize Superintendent Henry Jemmott, 42
On Monday night a court in San Pedro denied her bail application, her lawyer Godfrey Smith confirmed
Jemmott, 42, was found dead in the water off San Pedro island with a gunshot wound to his head early Friday
Prior to his death, he had been drinking with Hartin, who is married
Jemmott told a friend he was going on a date the night he was killed, when asked for details of the mystery women, he joked with the friend that he would take his secret ‘to the grave’
Jemmott, 42, had also boasted that he was staying for free at a luxury resort operated by Hartin’s husband Andrew Ashcroft – Hours later he was shot in the head by wealthy Canadian socialite Jasmine Hartin
Hartin, 32, is facing a charge of manslaughter by negligence after she told cops she accidentally opened fire as she passed Jemmott his Glock service revolver
She has insisted the shooting was an accident, claiming she was handing Jemmott his service weapon back when it fired and hit him in the heade
Hartin told detectives she was giving the officer a massage moments before the freak accident
Hartin was being held at San Pedro police station jail, which a local described as ‘hell on earth’, but she was moved to Belize Central Prison Tuesday after being denied bail
Canadian socialite Jasmin Hartin has been charged with manslaughter by negligence in the shooting death of a prominent police officer in Belize, and could escape with just a fine.
Jasmine Hartin, 32, who is married to the son of British billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft, was taken into custody last Friday after Superintendent Henry Jemmott, 42, was shot behind the ear with his own revolver.
Police believe the pair had been drinking and fooling around with Jemmott’s service revolver when it accidentally fired, causing the heavyset, 6ft officer to topple off a pier in the luxury coastal enclave of Ambergris Caye.
Hartin told detectives she was giving the officer a massage moments before the freak accident, according to local news reports.
Hartin was found at the scene by a security guard ‘hysterical’ and covered in blood, but clammed up and summoned a lawyer once she was in police custody, sources said.
Jemmott, told a friend he was going on a date the night he was was shot in the head by Jasmine Hartin. The police superintendent joked he would take his secret ‘to the grave’ when the friend asked for details of the mystery date.
Hours later Jemmott was found floating in shallow water beside a wooden jetty in the swank coastal enclave of Ambergris Caye with a single gunshot wound behind his ear.
Jemmott had also boasted that he was staying for free at a luxury resort operated by Hartin’s husband, Andrew Ashcroft, the son of British billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft.
The resort, the Grand Colony Villas, is located between the gleaming new Alaia hotel, another recently opened Ashcroft property, and the Mata Rocks hotel pier, where the victim officer died.
After her arrest, the shooter spent four days in a tiny concrete cell at the stiflingly hot police and magistrates court complex in San Pedro, the tropical resort’s only town, before she was arraigned behind a cloak of secrecy in San Pedro on Monday.
Hartin is facing a charge of manslaughter by negligence after she told cops she accidentally opened fire as she passed Jemmott his Glock service revolver.
Sources say he had placed it on the ground while the pair were drinking and socializing into the early hours of last Friday in violation of Belize’s midnight Covid curfew.
The friend, who asked not to be named, said Jemmott contacted him last week to say he was headed to San Pedro, the main settlement and tourism hub in Ambergris Caye, where he had previously served as a senior officer for three years.
‘I asked him where he was staying and he said Grand Colony. I said, what? You have money then?’ the friend said.
He said, I have stripes with the Ashcrofts, they are my friends. I said, you’re with the rich people now and he laughed.’
The friend said he knew of at least one previous occasions when Jemmott – who has a long-term partner and five children – had stayed at Grand Colony Villas for free.
Hours before he was found dead, Jemmott was in good spirits and was looking forward to meeting a mystery woman, the friend added.
‘He was the happiest cop you’ll ever see but he’s always like that. I said where are you going tonight and he said, I have a date.
‘He called the girl. When I heard the voice I asked who she was. He joked, that’s my secret, this one I’m taking to my grave and he did take it.
‘I’m struggling to cope with what has happened.’
Hartin will spend another night in a squalid Belize jail cell after her attorney, Godfrey Smith, emerged from the courthouse late Monday saying his client had been denied bail.
‘The charge is manslaughter by negligence. Bail has been denied. We appeal to the Supreme Court as is normal,’ he said.
Police Commissioner Chester Williams said on Sunday morning that Hartin had given a statement under caution and a file was passed on to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal.
The punishment for manslaughter can be ‘life’ in prison – up to 25 years – in the Belizean criminal system.
However Hartin is facing a maximum of five years.
Sources with knowledge of the island’s secretive justice system said the punishment could alternatively be just a fine of around $20,000 Belizean dollars, or $10,000 in US money.
One of the officer’s sisters, Marie Jemmott Tzul, on Sunday night said Hartin was about to be charged and would make her first court appearance within days.
‘I got a call, but they did not say what she was going to be charged with,’ said Marie, 55.
Hartin told investigators the Glock pistol went off accidentally as she handed it to Jemmott, according to local reports.
The Belize Police Department Police could not be reached to discuss the report.
An officer who was among the first on the scene suggested that Jemmott fell on to Hartin after he was shot, and he fell into the water when she pushed him off.
Marie, a retired social worker, said: ‘I haven’t seen the news because I’m so overwhelmed and devastated by my brother’s death.
‘I can’t can speculate over whether they will bail her or she will stay in prison, because I don’t know the charge yet.
‘What I would say to Jasmine is, give closure to the family. Tell us what happened. We want to know for the benefit of our family. He was my only brother.
‘He had five children and a partner for 14 years. Every time I look at my nieces and my nephews I break down and cry. Please tell us what happened.’
Jemmott was said to have been taking a few days to relax at the resort after having relationship issues and taking leave from work for ‘personal matters’.
His family have denied any romantic connection between Jemmott and Hartin, and said the officer was good friends with the whole Ashcroft family, having earlier dismissed suggestions that he committed suicide, despite claims he was experiencing marital problems.
His family said they do not know why the ‘cautious’ officer would have ventured out from his room after 10pm, breaching the country’s COVID curfew. His older sister Cherry Jemmott, 48, an Assistant Superintendent with Belize Police, emphasized: ‘My brother would never ever kill himself. He had his plans. In September he was to be promoted to Senior Superintendent and he was to be transferred to another unit. My brother is a very top cop with a big dream.
She added: ‘He had a gunshot behind his ear like an assassination. He is so skillful after 24 years [as an officer], he would never have left his guard down. He was a top cop. I don’t know how he let down his guard to be shot with his own gun.’
Cherry said a security guard heard a single shot.
Cherry said she believes her brother, whose nickname was King because he was his parents’ only son, and Hartin knew each other because she does business in San Pedro and he was the officer in charge of the area two to three years ago.
Meanwhile, Henry Jemmott’s niece, Renisha Martinez, wrote on Facebook: ‘I know for a fact my uncle would never do a suicide. He was murdered and we need justice. That man loved his job so much that he wouldn’t even take days off!’
She added: ‘First and foremost my Uncle is a dedicated man when it comes to his job. He is a caring and supporting dad, uncle and friend. He loved being out and working hard. He believed that hard work came with a lot of discipline.
‘My uncle was a great man in my eyes and anybody else who knows him would feel how I feel.’
Hartin and her husband, Andrew Ashcroft, share two children together. They spend much of their time in Belize, where they own a luxury hotel named Alaia. It only opened for business earlier this month.
According to Belize Police Commissioner Chester Williams, Hartin left the hotel late Thursday evening and walked a short distance down a beach to a small wooden jetty.
She met up with Jemmott, who was reported to be an old friend. Commissioner Williams confirmed the two were alone, drinking alcohol, and breaking the island’s 10pm to 5am COVID curfew.
‘They were both fully dressed,’ he told reporters. ‘They were known to each other. They were drinking for a couple of hours before the incident occurred.’
He added that the incident appeared to be ‘rather personal and not an attack’ and the pair were friends who had been drinking at the time.
Hartin was in custody in a holding cell at the San Pedro police station jail which one local described as ‘hell on earth’.
An inmate who spent hours behind bars with Hartin earlier that the socialite had cursed at officers and demanded special treatment when she was thrown in jail early last Friday morning.
The fellow prisoner, who gave his name as Jose, said Hartin had blood on her clothes when she was led into the neighboring cell at the police station.
After throwing a tantrum because jailers wouldn’t let her smoke a cigarette or access her ‘pills’, she offered Jose a radically different version of the fatal shooting of Superintendent Henry Jemmott, claiming the top cop was gunned down by a passing boat, he said.
The account is completely at odds with a formal statement given days later in the presence of Hartin’s attorney, in which the petite hotelier claimed she was handing Jemmott, 42, his service weapon when it accidentally blasted him in the head.
A local resident reportedly said: ‘She is a lady who is used to luxury. Whenever you see her she is always perfectly dressed, her children are always perfect. She is a nice lady, very polite and beautiful. I can’t imagine her in there. I have been inside that jail. The cell floors are made of dirt and the whole place smells of urine.’
In the bars and coffee shops around downtown San Pedro, speculation about what had happened was rife.
‘I’ve heard lots of theories,’ one woman said. ‘That they were drinking and maybe she was playing around with his gun and it accidentally went off. Or maybe they were playing a game and she didn’t think it was loaded. I don’t think he killed himself because you wouldn’t shoot yourself behind your right ear.’
According to one source, a local security guard raced to the scene when he heard the gunshot and alerted police who arrived to find Hartin ‘deeply distressed and shaking’.
The police commissioner confirmed Hartin had been found with blood on her hands, arms and clothing. Another unconfirmed report claimed she told the first officers on the scene the gunshot had come ‘from a passing boat’.
One source offered a potential explanation for Hartin being covered in blood. ‘After the gun went off, Jemmott fell on top of her and so she pushed him off and that’s how he ended up in the shallow water by the pier,’ he suggested.
‘His gun was found there on the pier. People have been speculating there was some sort of romantic relationship between them but I don’t believe that, the family doesn’t think that. I knew Henry [Jemmott], he was a big bear of a man, grossly overweight.
‘He’s a good guy and I know he was friends with several members of the Ashcroft family. He got to know them well when he was living here on the island. It’s a small island, we all know each other.’
Belize Police Commissioner Chester Williams said: ‘The first person who arrived on the scene after the incident occurred said that she was in an emotional state. When she was detained last night she was not co-operating.
‘She stated that she needed to have her attorney present in order for her to say what she needs to say, and it’s her right by virtue of the constitution, but that raises a red flag. The situation is such that it does require an explanation from her. In the absence of an explanation then she would have to be treated as the killer and we will proceed accordingly.
‘His body was recovered from the water. His weapon was recovered at the scene. The investigation is ongoing. It is too early to speculate but I can assure you that if any crime has been committed whoever did it will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.’