BELIZE CITY, Wed. June 2, 2021– Jasmine Hartin remains behind bars at the Belize Central Prison. She will stay there for about a week, since a decision on her bail application has been postponed by Justice Herbert Lord.
Today, her attorney, SC Godfrey Smith, applied for bail on her behalf at the Supreme Court. Justice Herbert Lord was chosen by the Acting Chief Justice Michelle Arana to preside over the application.
But before addressing the issue of bail, Justice Lord went to great lengths to decry the extent to which the case has been publicized by traditional media outlets, and also on social media platforms.
He then stated that he received instructions from the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to deny bail to Hartin on the grounds that she is Canadian and there is thus a high risk she would leave the country after being released. Smith, the attorney representing Hartin, then remarked that the DPP’s request was made with merely one sentence.
Judge Lord subsequently asked that a full written submission from Crown Counsel Shanice Lovell, be presented to the court by Friday, June 4. Senior Counsel Smith will then have until Monday to respond on behalf of his client. The bail proceeding will resume on Wednesday June 9.
Hartin, the common-law wife of Andrew Ashcroft, the youngest son of Lord Michael Ashcroft, was arrested and charged with manslaughter by negligence in connection with the death of Superintendent of Police, Henry Jemmott. Reports are that he was shot in the back of the head — and Hartin is claiming that this occurred accidentally when she was passing his Glock 9mm service pistol to him.
The public’s fury has been unabated since details of the incident first came to light, and many have gone to great lengths on various social media platforms to condemn what they perceive as an inadequate investigation into this matter. They fear that the high-profile status of Hartin, who is a member of the Ashcroft family, will cause what they consider a brutal and criminal act to be swept under the rug.
Since the manslaughter by negligence charge was handed down, many in the public, inclusive of the family and friends of Jemmott, as well as some of his former Police Department colleagues, have aired their discontent and have called for a charge of murder. They have questioned the scenario described by Hartin — asserting that Jemmott was fastidious in his handling of loaded weapons and would have never asked her to pass him a loaded pistol while his back was turned.
While being questioned by local media, the Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, said that he stands by the decision made by the DPP to charge Hartin with manslaughter by negligence.
It must be noted that, unlike a typical manslaughter charge, which can carry a sentence of life imprisonment, the maximum prison time for a manslaughter by negligence conviction is 5 years.
Hartin will spend another week at the Belize Central Prison before her bail application goes back for consideration in the Supreme Court.