Partner of British billionaire's son charged in shooting death of top cop in Belize: What we know

ByMorgan Winsor and Alondra Valle ABCNews logo
Sunday, June 6, 2021
Belize reacts to Jasmime Hartin case before her next court appearance
Jasmine Hartin, partner of Lord Michael Ashcroft's son, has been charged in the death of a Belize police official and moved to a new jail.

BELIZE CITY -- The Supreme Court of Belize has denied bail for the longtime partner of a British billionaire's son who's been charged in the fatal shooting of a top police officer in the Central American country.

A judge decided Wednesday to reject a bail application for Jasmine Hartin and adjourn the matter until next week, after Belize's head prosecutor submitted an objection to the court on the grounds that she presented a "serious flight risk." The judge has requested that prosecutors submit a formal objection with full arguments by Friday, while the defense team has until Monday to respond.

The next bail hearing is scheduled for June 9. Hartin, a Canadian citizen who lives in Belize with her family, will remain in custody at least until then at Belize Central Prison in the village of Hattieville, west of the capital, Belize City.

Hartin's attorney, Godfrey Smith, told reporters outside the courthouse on Wednesday that the judge also expressed "disapproval of the kind of media publicity" that the case is receiving and said he has "no intention of contributing to that."

Hartin had been denied bail by a lower court in the resort town of San Pedro on Monday, after she was charged with manslaughter by negligence. Her lawyer then appealed the decision to the supreme court in Belize City.

The charge stems from the death of Henry Jemmott, superintendent of the Belize Police Department, whose body was discovered early Friday in the water off a San Pedro pier with one apparent gunshot wound behind his right ear, according to Chester Williams, commissioner of the Belize Police Department.

"The injury is not consistent with suicide, and the manner of death is homicide," Williams told reporters on Monday.

Hartin "was somewhat in an emotional state walking herself on the pier" when police found her near Jemmott's body with "what appeared to be blood on her arms and on her clothing," Williams said during a press conference on Friday.

"We believe that she is to some extent affected by it," Williams told reporters.

Police recovered Jemmott's service weapon from the scene. The incident "seems rather personal and not an attack on law enforcement," Williams said. Investigators believe the pair were friends and had been drinking. They were alone together on the pier and were both found fully clothed, according to Williams.

"We owe it to him to ensure that we investigate properly," he said.

Hartin is the director of lifestyle and experience at Alaia Belize, a boutique resort in San Pedro run by her husband, real estate developer Andrew Ashcroft, in partnership with hotel giant Marriott International, according to Hartin's biography on the resort's website and her LinkedIn profile. Andrew Ashcroft also referred to Hartin as his wife during the resort's grand opening last month, but it was unclear whether they are legally married. The couple have two children.

Andrew Ashcroft is the youngest son of Lord Michael Ashcroft, a major financial backer of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom and its former deputy chairman. Lord Michael Ashcroft, who holds dual U.K. and Belizean citizenship, has an estimated net worth of $2.1 billion, according to Forbes.

Belize's police commissioner said the Canadian socialite will receive "no special treatment."

"Her social stature should not affect how she is to be treated or should not allow her to be treated different than any ordinary person who has committed a crime," Williams told local media on Tuesday.

Jemmott's family said they are desperate for answers. He leaves behind five children and a fiancee.

"What happened? We don't know, I don't know," Jemmott's sister, Marie Jemmott Tzul, told reporters on Monday. "So we are depending on the police investigation to set the record straight for us."

ABC News' Kirit Radia, Christine Theodorou, Alondra Valle and Dion Vansen contributed to this report.