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Who is Jasmine Hartin? Billionaire Tory donor’s daughter-in-law accused of killing police officer in Belize

Socialite and former estate agent has pleaded guilty to manslaughter by negligence after father-of-five was found dead in the water next to a dock in the Central American country, writes Alice Hutton

Wednesday 26 April 2023 14:43 BST
Canadian socialite Jasmine Hartin, pictured in a photo posted on Facebook with her partner, Andrew Ashcroft, at the opening of his new hotel in Belize
Canadian socialite Jasmine Hartin, pictured in a photo posted on Facebook with her partner, Andrew Ashcroft, at the opening of his new hotel in Belize (Facebook/Alaia)

On 7 May 2021, Jasmine Hartin looked on proudly as her partner and the father of their children, Andrew Ashcroft, unveiled his new luxury hotel on the Belize island of San Pedro.

The Canadian socialite was pictured in a video on the Facebook and YouTube pages of the new resort, the Alaia Belize Hotel Autograph Collection, looking immaculately dressed in a smart, pink top and white trousers, with glamorous makeup, swept up hair and a cocktail in her hand, standing by the pool. 

Just weeks later, the daughter-in-law of British billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft, 75, was in jail, charged with the manslaughter of police officer Henry Jemmott.

The 42-year-old police officer had been found in the water off San Pedro on Friday 28 May, shot with his own gun, as reported by CNN

Ms Hartin, who has two children with Lord Ashcroft’s son Andrew and is reportedly also a US citizen, had allegedly invited the officer, who was a friend, over to her apartment for a drink to discuss her personal security.

They are then believed to have broken the 10pm Covid curfew by walking to a nearby dock where she is said to have offered him a massage for his shoulder pain.

Lord Ashcroft’s daughter-in-law seen at at hotel opening days before her arrest

What happened next is unclear. Ms Hartin’s version of events appears to be that Mr Jemmott put down his gun and was shot with it accidentally when she handed it back to him. The father-of-five suffered a bullet wound behind the ear and died of his injuries.

Police commissioner Chester C Williams told local media that security guards came running after hearing a single gun shot and “upon investigating, police found the female on a pier and she had what appeared to be blood on her arms and on her clothing”, Sky News reported.

He added that she initially refused to speak to police without a lawyer. Ms Hartin was arrested on Monday 31 May, charged with manslaughter by negligence and denied bail, according to her lawyer Godfrey Smith. 

Jasmine Hartin, pictured in her LinkedIn photo, worked for her husband’s hotel, The Alaia, in Belize (LinkedIn/Jasmin Hartin)

So who is Jasmine Hartin?

On her LinkedIn profile, she is listed as director of lifestyle and experience for Andrew Ashcroft’s luxury Alaia resort, with a previous role as a real estate associate for SANCAS Realty Ltd.

A page on the hotel’s website, which has since been removed, said: “Along with her husband, Andrew Ashcroft, Jasmine has played an integral role in shaping the vision for Alaia Belize from the very beginning”, as reported by The Sunday Times.

Andrew Ashcroft, son of Conservative donor Lord Ashcroft, pictured in a still from the launch video for his new hotel, The Alaia, in Belize (The Alaia/YouTube)

In a video posted on the hotel’s YouTube page, Ms Hartin can be seen with her two children and partner at the resort launch, which was attended by the minister of tourism.

In the same video Mr Ashcroft, whose father Lord Ashcroft is the former deputy chairman of the British Conservative Party and who grew up in Belize as a child and holds dual Belizean and British citizenship, said his family was “100 per cent committed to Belize” and that the children would soon start school there.

Speaking over clips of his children, Mr Ashcroft says: “For my family this is about the best thing, I mean we are committed as a family. My wife Jasmine, my kids, we are 100 per cent committed to Belize. They start school here this summer. We’re going to start a new project here this October called The Alaia Beach Club which will double our key count so we are here to stay and do more investments in Belize. We might have a couple surprises of other projects around Belize we’d like to do.”

Lord Ashcroft, businessman and politician, arrives at the Manchester Central convention complex in Manchester on 29 September, 2019, on the first day of the annual Conservative Party conference (AFP/Getty)

Following news of Ms Hartin’s arrest, photos emerged in the local press appearing to show her behind bars. In Belize, manslaughter can be punished by up to 25 years in jail but Ms Hartin is believed to be facing a maximum five-year sentence, or a fine of $10,000 dollars.

Marie Jemmott Tzul, one of the officer’s sisters, told The Daily Mail that she was “overwhelmed and devastated by my brother's death.”

She added: “I can't 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.”

Ms Jemmot Tzul continued: “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.”

Members of the officer’s family denied local reports that he may have killed himself due to marital problems.

Another sister, Cherry Jemmott, 48, an assistant superintendent with Belize Police, told The Mail: “My brother would never ever kill himself. He had his plans. In September [2021], 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.”

Belize Police Commissioner Williams told local media that the pair had been drinking and were in breach of the island’s 10pm to 5am Covid curfew at the time.

He said: “They were both fully dressed. They were known to each other. They were drinking for a couple of hours before the incident occurred. His body was recovered from the water. His weapon was recovered at the scene. The investigation is ongoing.”

On 26 April 2023, Ms Hartin pleaded guilty to manslaughter by negligence as her trial opened at the Supreme Court in Belize City.

“I just want Henry's family to have peace now and I want this whole thing behind all of us so we can heal,” she told local media outside the court.

Hartin’s attorney, Orson ‘OJ’ Elrington, told reporters his client’s primary concern “was to not put the family of the victim through the anguish of having to go through a trial proceeding, so she consistently expressed her concern about that”.

Channel 5 Belize reported the sentencing hearing is expected to happen on 31 May.

As she pleaded guilty, it added, Mr Elrington said the judge is expected to give a non-custodial sentence.

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