The partner of the heir to a billionaire British businessman and politician was charged on Monday with manslaughter by negligence in the death of a top Belize police officer.
Jasmine Hartin, 32, is the partner of 43-year-old Andrew Ashcroft, whose father is British billionaire Lord Ashcroft. Hartin was denied bond Monday, according to her attorney, former Belizean Attorney General Godfrey Smith.
Henry Jemmott, the superintendent of police at the Belize Police Department, was found dead in the water by a dock in San Pedro, where he had been socializing. Police said the 42-year-old father of five died of a gunshot wound behind his ear on May 28 and that the weapon used was his service pistol.
Hartin, a Canadian living in Belize, was initially detained after she was found splattered in blood on the pier.
Police report that “based on an investigation conducted and directives received from the Director of Public Prosecution concerning the investigation into the shooting death of Superintendent Henry Jemmott, police formally arrested and charged Jasmine Suzanne Hartin, aged 32 yrs, Canadian Self-Employed of Sea Grape Drive, San Pedro Town for the Crime of Manslaughter by Negligence,” according to an account of their statement reproduced By 7 News Belize.
Chester Williams, commissioner of police, said Hartin is in custody and being questioned about Jemmott’s death. The two were reportedly friends and had been drinking together alone on the dock. He said Hartin was “somewhat in an emotional state walking herself on the pier.” There is no indication that a third person was involved.
Although it’s unclear whether Hartin and Ashcroft are married, Ashcroft referred to Hartin as his wife at a news conference announcing the opening of the Alaia Belize, Autograph Collection hotel in May 2021. They have two children together. The elder Ashcroft is a former deputy chairman of the Britain’s Conservative Party.
Hartin is said to have initially told responding officers that someone in a passing boat may have shot Jemmott, then stopped cooperating with investigators as she obtained an attorney.
Williams said at the time, “In the absence of an explanation … she would have to be treated as the killer.”
Authorities also raised the possibility of lodging cocaine possession charges against her, according 7 News Belize, after which Hartin reportedly admitted she accidently shot Jemmott while handing him his pistol as she was giving him a massage, then pushed his body into the water in a panic. The pistol was found nearby.
Williams said authorities haven’t reached a clear understanding of what actually happened.
“The only two persons who could have said [what happened] is the deceased and Ms. Hartin. The deceased is dead. He cannot speak for himself. Dead man carries no tale. Ms. Hartin has given her version of what she said transpired,” he said.
Hartin faces up to 25 years in prison if she is convicted of manslaughter by negligence, but the charge is unlikely to result in more than a fine, 7 News Belize reports.
Police reportedly also investigated the idea that Hartin and Jemmott were playing a pistol game before the shooting happened.
Dismissing suggestions that Jemmott may have taken his own life, his sister, Marie Jemmott Tzul, told reporters, “My brother loved life, he loved life. He had passion for his work. He did his work with integrity and that’s the way he loved his family as well.”