American Daughter-in-Law of British Billionaire ‘Is Set to Be Charged’ in Connection with Death of Belize Cop
Ben Ashford and Jenny Stanton, Daily Mail, May 30, 2021
The daughter-in-law of a British billionaire will be charged today over the mystery shooting death of a leading police officer in Belize, according to the slain cop’s family.
Jasmine Hartin, who is married to the son of Lord Michael Ashcroft, has been in custody since early Friday morning after Superintendent Henry Jemmott, 42, was found floating dead in the water off San Pedro island.
The two were drinking and socializing on a pier before dad-of-five Jemmott was killed by a bullet which hit him behind his right ear, allegedly fired by his own service weapon.
Hartin told detectives she was giving the officer a massage moments before the freak accident, according to local news reports. The pair had reportedly been playing around with the weapon before the shooting.
The officer’s sister, Marie Jemmott Tzul, told DailyMail.com Sunday night that the blonde socialite was about to be charged and would make her first court appearance within days.
‘I got a call, but they did not say what she was going to be charged with,’ said Marie, 55.
An unconfirmed report on Belize television suggested that glamorous Hartin, 38, would be charged with manslaughter after she told investigators the Glock pistol went off accidentally as she handed it to Jemmott.
The Belize Police Department Police could not be reached to discuss the report.
An officer who was among the first on the scene suggested that Jemmott fell on to Hartin after he was shot, and he fell into the water when she pushed him off.
Marie, a retired social worker, told DailyMail.com: ‘I haven’t seen the news because I’m so overwhelmed and devastated by my brother’s death.
‘I can’t can speculate over whether they will bail her or she will stay in prison, because I don’t know the charge yet.
‘What I would say to Jasmine is, give closure to the family. Tell us what happened. We want to know for the benefit of our family. He was my only brother.
‘He had five children and a partner for 14 years. Every time I look at my nieces and my nephews I break down and cry. Please tell us what happened.’
Jemmott’s family had previously rubbished suggestions that the officer took his own life, despite claims he was experiencing marital problems.
Sister Cherry Jemmott, an Assistant Superintendent with Belize Police, told DailyMail.com: ‘My brother would never ever kill himself. He had his plans. In September he was to be promoted to Senior Superintendent and he was to be transferred to another unit. My brother is a very top cop with a big dream.
She added: ‘He had a gunshot behind his ear like an assassination. He is so skillful after 24 years [as an officer], he would never have left his guard down. He was a top cop. I don’t know how he let down his guard to be shot with his own gun.’
Cherry said a security guard heard a single shot.
Cherry said she believes her brother, whose nickname was King because he was his parents’ only son, and Hartin knew each other because she does business in San Pedro and he was the officer in charge of the area two to three years ago.
Meanwhile, Henry Jemmott’s niece, Renisha Martinez, wrote on Facebook: ‘I know for a fact my uncle would never do a suicide. He was murdered and we need justice. That man loved his job so much that he wouldn’t even take days off!’
She added: ‘First and foremost my Uncle is a dedicated man when it comes to his job. He is a caring and supporting dad, uncle and friend. He loved being out and working hard. He believed that hard work came with alot of discipline.
‘My uncle was a great man in my eyes and anybody else who knows him would feel how I feel.’
Hartin and her husband, Andrew Ashcroft, share two children together. They spend much of their time in Belize, where they own a luxury hotel named Alaia. It only opened for business earlier this month.
According to Belize Police Commissioner Chester Williams, Hartin left the hotel late Thursday evening and walked a short distance down a beach to a small wooden jetty.
She met up with Jemmott, who was reported to be an old friend. Commissioner Williams confirmed the two were alone, drinking alcohol, and breaking the island’s 10pm to 5am Covid curfew.
‘They were both fully dressed,’ he told reporters. ‘They were known to each other. They were drinking for a couple of hours before the incident occurred.’
He added that the incident appeared to be ‘rather personal and not an attack’ and the pair were friends who had been drinking at the time.
Hartin was in custody in a holding cell at the San Pedro police station jail which one local described as ‘hell on earth’.
He added: ‘She is a lady who is used to luxury. Whenever you see her she is always perfectly dressed, her children are always perfect. She is a nice lady, very polite and beautiful. I can’t imagine her in there. I have been inside that jail. The cell floors are made of dirt and the whole place smells of urine.’
In the bars and coffee shops around downtown San Pedro, speculation about what had happened was rife.
‘I’ve heard lots of theories,’ one woman told Daily Mail. ‘That they were drinking and maybe she was playing around with his gun and it accidentally went off. Or maybe they were playing a game and she didn’t think it was loaded. I don’t think he killed himself because you wouldn’t shoot yourself behind your right ear.’
According to one source, a local security guard raced to the scene when he heard the gunshot and alerted police who arrived to find Hartin ‘deeply distressed and shaking’. The police commissioner confirmed Hartin had been found with blood on her hands, arms and clothing. Another unconfirmed report claimed she told the first officers on the scene the gunshot had come ‘from a passing boat’.
One source offered a potential explanation for Hartin being covered in blood. ‘After the gun went off, Jemmott fell on top of her and so she pushed him off and that’s how he ended up in the shallow water by the pier,’ he suggested.
‘His gun was found there on the pier. People have been speculating there was some sort of romantic relationship between them but I don’t believe that, the family doesn’t think that. I knew Henry [Jemmott], he was a big bear of a man, grossly overweight.
‘He’s a good guy and I know he was friends with several members of the Ashcroft family. He got to know them well when he was living here on the island. It’s a small island, we all know each other.’
Belize police officials said Saturday that Hartin was not yet cooperating with the investigation while she awaited legal advice.
Belize Police Commissioner Chester Williams said: ‘The first person who arrived on the scene after the incident occurred said that she was in an emotional state. When she was detained last night she was not co-operating.
‘She stated that she needed to have her attorney present in order for her to say what she needs to say, and it’s her right by virtue of the constitution, but that raises a red flag. The situation is such that it does require an explanation from her. In the absence of an explanation then she would have to be treated as the killer and we will proceed accordingly.
‘His body was recovered from the water. His weapon was recovered at the scene. The investigation is ongoing. It is too early to speculate but I can assure you that if any crime has been committed whoever did it will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.’
Lord Ashcroft, 75, a former deputy chairman of the British Conservative Party and philanthropist, has invested heavily in Belize for decades and has dual Belizean and British citizenship.
Lord Ashcroft’s long-time lawyer, the nation’s former attorney general Godfrey Smith, was seen visiting the prison on Friday afternoon after flying in from mainland Belize. It is not known whether she will appoint her own criminal lawyer – and provide an explanation.
The shooting has stunned islanders who say the Ashcroft family has been part of the fabric of Belize – formally British Honduras – for generations.
Lord Ashcroft was raised there as a child and returned in the early 1980s, took Belizean citizenship and built up a series of hugely successful businesses including banks, telecommunications firms and tourism ventures.
‘Lord Ashcroft spent most of Covid here in Belize,’ said a source. ‘He only left a short while ago.
‘The Ashcrofts are integral to Belize. Many people are grateful to Lord Ashcroft for all the millions he has invested in this country.
‘He has created thousands of jobs but, like anywhere, there is also some resentment and a lot of politics going on.
‘He is embedded in the culture and has made a lot of money from his businesses here and some people aren’t happy about that.’
The Ashcroft’s latest venture – in partnership with hotel giant Marriott – is the gleaming new hotel Alaia, which was completed during lockdown and opened just three weeks ago.
The Ashcrofts are also building a condominium building on nearby land. ‘That hasn’t broken ground yet,’ said a source. ‘But Andrew remains committed to Belize. This is his home and it is where he is raising his kids.
‘He used to have a different accent but now he sounds like a local. He loves this island and he does everything to fit in. The new hotel has created 300 jobs for the island. We love him. This has all come as a terrible shock.’