In a controversial sentencing, a 34-year-old Canadian socialite has escaped jail despite pleading guilty to killing a police superintendent in Belize with his own gun.
Jasmine Hartin was instead handed the equivalent of a £30,000 fine by Judge Ricardo Sandcroft and ordered to complete 300 hours of community service, in a hearing at Belize high court, after admitting the manslaughter of Henry Jemmott, who died from a single gunshot wound to the head, on 28 May 2021.
Ms Hartin is the former partner of Andrew Ashcroft, who is the son of Lord Michael Ashcroft, the former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, who also represented Belize at the United Nations.
Seemingly, the two who were known to be friends, had been at a party together on the island of Ambergris Caye, on the night of the incident. It is understood that they took a stroll on the beach and down to the pier. At some point, Mr Jemmott handed her his Glock 17 pistol and apparently Ms Hartin fumbled the weapon causing it to discharge a 9mm round.
She was discovered by officers, covered in blood and distraught close to where Mr Jemmott’s lifeless body was spotted floating in the water 30ft from the shore, off San Pedro. Her manslaughter by negligence charge carried with it the possibility of a maximum prison term of five years under the Belize criminal code.
Ms Hartin has also been ordered to produce a video warning against the dangers of intoxication and mishandling firearms.
At the time of Mr Jemmott’s death Ms Hartin and Mr Ashcroft lived in Belize with their two children. His father, Lord Ashcroft, is domiciled in the country, but remains active in UK politics.
Curfew broken in late night walk
After a social evening at her apartment on the tragic night in May 2021, where she admitted she consumed large quantities of alcohol during discussions with regard to her personal security, Ms Hartin and father of five Mr Jemmott, are believed to have broken a 10pm Covid curfew by walking to a nearby dock. Whilst there she is thought to have offered to massage his shoulder, which was causing him pain at that time.
No other details have been given, but security guards then reported hearing a “loud bang” and raced to the scene at around 12:45am.The father of five had suffered a bullet wound behind the ear and died of his wound later that same night.
Plea for healing time
Ms Hartin, who initially refused to speak to police without a lawyer, is said to have broken down in tears when pleading guilty at an earlier trial and told reporters outside the courthouse: “I just want Henry’s family to have peace now and I want this whole thing to be behind all of us so we can heal.”
She continued to say that she hoped that she would now be allowed to leave Belize to begin fighting to be reunited with her two children.
Speaking after Mr Jemmott’s death, one of his sisters, Marie Jemmott Tzul, said: “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.”
Compensation for the family has been left to the civil courts in Belize to determine.