Socialite Jasmine Hartin was led away from a police cell in handcuffs today as authorities transferred her to a notorious Belizean prison where she will be detained over the ‘accidental’ shooting of a prominent cop.
Hartin, 32, who is married to the son of British billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft, faces a charge of manslaughter by negligence for killing Superintendent Henry Jemmott early last Friday.
Her lawyers were racing against time today to convince the country’s Supreme Court to overturn the decision of a local magistrate, who said the mother-of-two was too much of a flight risk to go free.
But by 2.30pm local time it appeared they were too late to block her transfer to the country’s central prison, where the petite blonde will be surrounded by gang members and violent criminals.
Wearing jeans, a red hoodie and black face mask she kept her head bowed in silence as she left the stiflingly hot San Pedro police station and court complex flanked by the fallen officer’s former comrade, clutching only a plastic bag that mostly obscured her handcuffs.
Jasmine Hartin was moved to Belize Central Prison Tuesday after being charged with manslaughter by negligence, DailyMail.com has learned
Her lawyers were racing against time today to convince the country’s Supreme Court to overturn the decision of a local magistrate, who said the mother-of-two was too much of a flight risk to go free
Hartin was seen clutching only a plastic bag that mostly obscured her handcuffs. She was put on the back of a golf cart which was driven to a secluded port five minutes from the station before she was placed on a boat bound for the mainland
She was seen in handcuffs and wearing jeans, a red hoodie and black face mask as she kept her head bowed in silence
Canadian socialite and resort owner Jasmine Hartin (left) was drinking with Belize Police Superintendent Henry Jemmott (right) before he died early Friday. She has insisted she accidentally shot the officer while handing him his service weapon
Hartin was placed on a boat bound for mainland where she’ll be held in jail
She was put on the back of a golf cart which was driven to a secluded port five minutes from the station before she was placed on a boat bound for the mainland.
The boat she was taken off the island on was called the SEAductress.
Sources told DailyMail.com Hartin was taken ashore at Barracks Dock in Belize City and was transferred to a blue police van for the 30-minute drive to prison, heading inside the gates at around 4:30pm local time.
Officers had erected a memorial to Jemmott, featuring photos, floral tributes and a book of condolence, outside their station in the hours before Hartin left.
A source told DailyMail.com: ‘We made sure she was in handcuffs. There was no special treatment. He was our friend.’
Insiders predict Hartin will ultimately escape with just a fine after authorities opted against a murder or full-fledged manslaughter charge.
And even if the Supreme Court keeps her locked up for now, they said Hartin could plead guilty within weeks and pay around 20,000 Belizean dollars (around $10,000 in US money) to secure her freedom.
The Canadian national insists she fired by accident as she was handing Jemmott, 42, his service weapon after he laid it on a pier while they drank and socialized in violation of Belize’s midnight Covid curfew.
‘It’s not right. It’s not right. The family will feel really bad. This is not justice,’ his sister Cherry Jemmott, 48 – an assistant superintendent in the Belize Police – said of the charge.
‘My brother will have a state funeral on June 12. He gave 24 years to the police. And this is the value they put on his life?’
Cherry, 48, said Hartin should have been charged with murder then taken to trial where it would be up to a jury to determine whether the killing was manslaughter.
‘Within seven working days she will get bail, I predict it. She can afford it.
‘The people can see what is going on here, they are already saying it,’ she added, referring to a flood of social media posts complaining that Hartin was ‘let off’ because of her connections to the ultra-rich expat community.
‘I can’t say too much because of my position but it’s not fair. Something is not right.
‘He was our only boy. She took his life. She deprived him of his family. She deprived us of his love.’
The blonde socialite has spent the past four days holed up in a tiny concrete cell at the stiflingly hot police and magistrates court complex in San Pedro, the tropical resort’s only town. She was pictured behind bars by local media on Monday evening
Inmates at the facility, which is run by the the Kolbe Foundation, are made to do farm work or other laborious tasks as they undergo strict religious instruction
Nicknamed the ‘Hattieville Ramada’, it currently houses 1,041 prisoners, many of whom are forced to wait months or even years for trial, in austere, concrete cellblocks
Police believe Jemmott and Hartin had been drinking and toying around with his service weapon before it accidentally fired, hitting him in the head and causing the 6ft officer to topple off a pier in the luxury coastal enclave of Ambergris Caye.
The pair – described as old friends – were socializing in violation of Belize’s midnight Covid curfew.
After a single gunshot rang out at 1am the Canadian national was found at the scene by a security guard who said she was ‘hysterical’ and spattered in blood.
Jemmott, a father of five with a longterm partner, was found floating dead in shallow water.
Hartin clammed up and summoned her lawyer Godfrey Smith – the influential former Attorney General of Belize – once she was in police custody, sources said.
Police Commissioner Chester Williams revealed Sunday however that Hartin had given a statement under caution and a file had been passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal.
Hartin was arraigned behind a cloak of secrecy Monday in San Pedro, the resort’s only town, despite authorities insisting the well-heeled prisoner would not receive any preferential treatment.
Police abruptly ejected reporters and members of the public from the building before she was taken from the tiny, concrete holding cell to the court, one floor above, at around 3:30pm local time.
Officers cited Covid social distancing rules that ban assemblies of more than ten people, though more than double that amount were stood in a waiting room earlier in the day.
Smith finally emerged from three-hour hearing and confirmed his client was charged with manslaughter by negligence, effectively the least serious offense available.
While the punishment for manslaughter is ‘life’ in prison – up to 25 years – in the Belizean criminal system, that’s reduced to a maximum of five years when the charge involves only negligence.
Sources with knowledge of the Central American nation’s secretive justice system said the punishment could be just a fine of around $20,000 Belizean dollars, or $10,000 in US money.
Hartin was refused bail and was transferred to Hattieville Prison the Belizean mainland, where conditions are so bad that it has featured on the TV show ‘Worlds Toughest Prisons’.
The realtor and society figure is married to Andrew Ashcroft, 43, the youngest son of influential UK businessman Lord Ashcroft.
Belize Police Superintendent Henry Jemmott, who had arrived in San Pedro last week and was staying at a downtown hotel, had been fishing and visiting bars with a friend before he was killed
Late on Thursday evening, Hartin left her luxury hotel, Alaia (pictured) and walked a short distance down a beach to a small wooden jetty to meet Jemmott
Ashcroft, 75, is a former deputy chairman and key financial backer of the UK’s ruling Conservative Party. He also holds Belizean citizenship, has invested heavily in the country and has represented it at the United Nations.
The Ashcrofts’ latest venture – in partnership with hotel giant Marriott – is the gleaming new Alaia resort, which was completed during lockdown and opened just three weeks ago.
It has a rooftop pool and rooms were going for $1,000 a night this week. The Ashcrofts are also building a condominium building on nearby land.
Jemmott, a 24-year veteran of the Belize Police Department, leaves behind five children and a partner of 14 years, described by family as his common-law wife.
He was a senior officer on Ambergris Caye for three years from 2016 when its believed he became friendly with the Ashcrofts, after which he returned to his family on mainland Belize. Jemmott headed back to the island last week for a vacation and fishing trip after taking time off work for ‘personal issues’, linking up with Hartin who was an ‘old friend’.
Despite the officer’s seniority, locals said it was a surprise to hear that a veteran street cop with working class roots would be mixing with billionaire expats like Hartin’s in-laws.
‘They were both fully dressed,’ Police Commissioner Chester Williams told reporters last week. ‘They were known to each other. They were drinking for a couple of hours before the incident.’