The Canadian socialite and daughter-in-law of billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft, Jasmine Hartin, tried to clear her name in a TV interview as she could possibly face murder charges for killing a police superintendent in Belize.
“People perceive me as being… this wild, crazy, party girl that’s hanging from the rafters,” she told CBS. “That’s not it at all. I’m a businesswoman. I’m a mother. I’m a friend... I’m a wife.”
Ms Hartin, whom CBS spent three days reporting on in Belize, told the network that she’s “not a murderer”, calling the idea “ridiculous”. The interview is set to air on 2 October.
The 32-year-old said she shot her friend and police officer Henry Jemmott in a tragic accident as he was trying to teach her how to use a Glock 17. They had been drinking and went out to a pier. She thought she needed a gun to protect herself.
“‘Can you hand me the magazine from the gun?’” she told CBS that Mr Jemmott had asked her. “I’m trying to get the magazine out. Next thing I know, the gun went off.”
“All I could feel [was] warmth,” she said. “And I later then realized he was bleeding on me.”
Police found her on the pier covered in blood. But Mr Jemmott’s family doesn’t believe Ms Hartin’s account of what occurred.
“My brother was shot behind the ear … execution-style,” his sister Cherry told CBS. The family is pushing for murder charges, Ms Hartin has been charged with manslaughter by negligence.
Some locals believe that Ms Hartin has received favourable treatment because of the wealth of her father-in-law – a British-Belizean businessman, pollster, and politician who previously served in the House of Lords and as deputy chairman of the Conservative Party with an estimated net worth of $2.2bn.
Ms Hartin has two sons with Lord Ashcroft’s son Andrew, who is a developer and owner of the resort where Ms Hartin was staying. The story has been in the news since last spring, and Ms Hartin was arrested in May and sent to the Belize Central Prison – known for its brutality.
“When I arrived there I said, this is not right, my lawyer doesn’t know I’m here, I need to make a call,” she said in June. “They said, ‘Sorry sweetie, the phones are locked already for the day – now take your clothes off, we’re strip-searching you.’”
She was released on bail despite prosecutors pushing for her to stay in prison, but the release was contingent on good behaviour, and she was briefly sent back to prison after she faced off with Lord Ashcroft about him allegedly making sure she couldn’t see her kids.
Lord Ashcroft pushed back on the claims, saying that she “abandoned the residence I had arranged for her without informing myself, the police, or the security guards and disappeared to an unknown location”.
Prosecutors also charged Ms Hartin with common assault and drug possession, The Daily Beast reported.
A GoFundMe was launched for her defence, which raised less than $2,500.
It has been reported that Andrew Ashcroft has been given interim custody of their children.
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