BELIZE CITY, Mon. May 31, 2021– A high-profile socialite from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, has been charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of Superintendent of Police Henry Jemmott. Reports are that 32-year-old Jasmine Hartin, the common-law wife of Andrew Ashcroft, Lord Michael Ashcroft’s youngest son, was seen with “blood on her hands”, pacing back and forth on the Mata Rocks pier in San Pedro.
Floating in the water by the pier was the lifeless body of Supt. Henry Jemmott, which could be seen by the security guard of the nearby establishment, who was one of the first to arrive on the scene. She has since been denied bail in the San Pedro magistrate court.
During an interview with the media last Friday, Commissioner Williams said that, according to the first person on the scene, Hartin appeared to be emotional, apparently affected by the incident, and was not initially cooperating with police. She requested the presence of her attorney before answering any questions. Reports are that Godfrey Smith, Senior Counsel, is acting as the local representative for a British Queen Counsel who is representing Hartin.
She was first detained on Friday, released for a brief period, and re-detained on Sunday so that her detention period could be renewed and police could get time to lay charges. Hartin was allegedly also found with 0.4 grams of cocaine on her person at the time that Jemmott’s body was found. That lesser charge was passed over, since she has begun to cooperate with the police.
And while she is expected to be arraigned at the San Pedro Magistrate’s Court this evening, after the issuance of advice to the police by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), the details surfacing regarding this high-profile homicide are still deeply disturbing to the public. According to unconfirmed but reliable reports, Hartin has claimed that the death of Jemmott was an accident.
Unconfirmed reports are that, in a statement given to police, she outlined that she was giving the officer, who is also reportedly a friend of hers, a shoulder massage on the pier when he asked her to pass his service pistol, a 9-mm Glock. The gun reportedly accidentally went off, hitting Jemmott in the back of the head. He is said to have fallen on her, and she struggled to remove herself from under him, eventually pushing him into the water.
This narrative was presented to police after Hartin’s debriefing with her attorneys and is notably different from the scenario that, according to some media reports, Hardin had initially described —in which Jemmott was shot by someone on a passing boat.
When Commissioner Williams was initially questioned by local media following the incident, he had indicated that all possible scenarios would be looked at closely.
“Inspection of the body should tell us a lot in terms of proximity and trajectory, which will assist in determining the distance from which the shot was fired as well as whether or not Mr. Jemmott could have caused his own injury or it was caused by someone in his close proximity,” Commissioner Williams had told reporters.
As previously mentioned, when Jemmott’s body was found in the water, Hartin was seen walking on the pier with blood on her arms and clothes. Upon inspection, a fatal gunshot wound was observed behind Jemmot’s right ear.
Jasmine Hartin has lived in San Pedro with her partner, Andrew Ashcroft, for years and recently, the couple together launched the Alaia Hotel on the island. Supt. Jemmott was the top cop on Ambergris Caye for years before being transferred. He apparently maintained his connections with the upper echelons of San Pedro society. Commissioner Williams reported that Jemmott had requested some time off for “personal issues” and was not on active duty at the time of the incident.
The uncertainty that enshrouds the circumstances of this rank police officer’s death has sent a tremor over Belizean society. Many are concerned that Hartin’s connections with the Ashcroft family will guarantee her exoneration from what they believe is a much more serious offense. This weekend, as the opinions on social media were being tossed around, photos of Hartin brandishing a high-caliber weapon and a handgun at what looks like a shooting range in Las Vegas were published.
These photos. which were initially published on her personal Facebook page about 10 years ago, show, at the very least, that she has a familiarity with guns. It must be noted that 99 percent of Glock pistols have three levels of safety mechanisms, inclusive of trigger safety.
Police have since ruled out suicide as a possible cause of Jemmott’s death. Commissioner Williams shared, “The post-mortem revealed that the injury was not consistent with suicide, and the manner of death is homicide.”
Unlike the indictable offense of murder, the charge of manslaughter that is to be brought against Hartin is a bailable one, so the high-profile socialite may avoid a trip to the Belize Central Prison.
Today, during an interview, Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams stated that Hartin would remain in police custody until the decision of the DPP, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, was handed down. Vidal was awaiting the results of a post-mortem exam in order to determine some key factors that would influence her decision regarding what charge was to be brought against Hartin — like the proximity and trajectory of the shot. In the end, she determined that the lesser charge of manslaughter should be levied against Hartin for Jemmott’s death.
A funeral will be held in Dangriga for Supt. Henry Jemmott on June 12, 2021.
Lord Michael Ashcroft, the Ashcroft family’s patriarch, has still not made a public statement since the incident.