Charged with Manslaughter, Jasmine Hartin remanded to Belize Central Prison after shooting death of top cop
Tuesday, June 1st, 2021
Tonight, June 1st, island socialite Jasmine Hartin is spending her first night at the Kolbe Foundation – Belize Central Prison. Hartin was remanded for the charge of Manslaughter by Negligence in the shooting death of 42-year-old Superintendent of Police Henry Jemmott. She will remain there awaiting her bail application to the Supreme Court. The incident has received international attention as Hartin is the partner of Andrew Ashcroft, son of billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft. Hartin and Andrew have two children and recently opened a luxurious beach resort in San Pedro Town.
After four nights in custody at the San Pedro Police department, the well-known businesswoman emerged from the San Pedro Police Station Tuesday afternoon escorted by police, wearing blue jeans, a red hoodie, and a black face mask. She carried a plastic bag, which concealed her handcuffs, and climbed onto the back of a golf cart. The accused tried to hide her face and remained silent as questions were hurled at her by the media crowd. A female police officer sat next to her, and she was whisked away to the San Pedro Sunset Boardwalk, where a private boat transported her to Belize City. From there, she was carried to the Belize Central Prison in Hattieville, where she remains until her court hearing for bail at the Supreme Court.
The shooting death of top cop
Hartin was taken into police custody on the island following Jemmott’s shooting death in the early hours of Friday, May 28th. According to reports, Jemmott and Hartin were socializing on a beachside dock after midnight, violating the current COVID-19 curfew. Commissioner of Police (ComPol) Chester Williams said at a press briefing that Hartin had not been cooperating when detained and requested the presence of her attorney, Godfrey Smith.
In a press conference on the same day, ComPol said that Hartin had to provide an explanation; failing to do so meant she was going to be “treated as the killer.” Hartin ultimately gave the police a statement. According to reports, she described Jemmott’s death as accidental. She claims to have given Jemmott a shoulder massage while on the pier. Jemmott reportedly placed his service-issued Glock pistol on the dock. She claims he asked that she hand him the gun. Hartin’s account is that it accidentally went off and fatally shot Jemmott behind the right ear when giving it to him. Following the gunshot, Jemmott apparently fell on top of her, and to get out from under him, she pushed him away, and his body fell into the water. A security guard nearby heard the gunshot and found Hartin pacing back and forth on the pier with blood splattered all over her. She reportedly seemed disoriented.
After the investigation concluded on Sunday, May 30th, it was forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions for further instruction based on Hartin’s level of cooperation. On Monday, May 31st, she was arraigned at the San Pedro Magistrate Court. The San Pedro Sun and other media colleagues from around the globe were forced to leave the court area and police station compound. The reason given was COVID-19 regulations.
Charged and Bail Denied
The arraignment was held under intense security, with the police station closed to prevent the media from camping outside. After an entire day of waiting outside the police station, Hartin’s attorney, Godfrey Smith, emerged from the station and addressed the media under the scorching heat. He briefly confirmed that his client was charged with Manslaughter by Negligence, and bail was denied. Magistrate Christina Perera came to this decision after carefully deliberating the case and concluded she had no jurisdiction. Perera also noted the prevalence of the crime while police objected to bail, arguing Hartin was a flight risk. Attorney Smith was hopeful that his client would not spend another night in a tiny cell block at the end of the day. “We appeal to the Supreme Court as is normal,” said Smith. His law firm was to issue a formal statement on Tuesday, June 1st, but such an address never happened. It is unknown if the bail appeal has been filed or if a hearing will occur at the Supreme Court.
In the hours before Hartin’s transfer, the San Pedro Police formation set up a memorial to honor Jemmott outside their compound. The public is invited to stop by and pay their respects. There was also a notebook where messages could be written for the fallen veteran officer. Many showed up and shared their memories of the Superintendent who once served as Officer in Charge of the San Pedro and Caye Caulker policing.
An official funeral will take place on June 12th at Jemmott’s hometown of Dangriga in Stann Creek. He leaves behind five children, his fiancé, family, and a host of friends across the country.
If Hartin is found guilty of Manslaughter by Negligence, it will be at the judge’s discretion to determine her sentence. It is possible that a fine could be negotiated in place of jail time.
Her father-in-law, Lord Ashcroft, is a well-known business figure in Belize. The British billionaire was a former deputy chairman and key financial donor of the United Kingdom’s ruling Conservative Party. The latest Ashcroft business venture in Belize saw partnering with the Marriott hotel chain, giving birth to one of Belize’s most luxurious resorts, Alaia Belize in San Pedro.
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