The daughter-in-law of a major figure in the Conservative party has been charged with manslaughter by negligence after a police superintendent was shot dead in Belize.
Jasmine Hartin, 38, was found nearby after the body of Superintendent Henry Jemmott, 42, was found floating by a pier in the town of San Pedro early on Friday (28 May).
Hartin had blood on her hands and clothing when she was discovered nearby, and had been drinking with Jemmott, who was reportedly a friend of hers, prior to his death.
What happened to Henry Jemmott?
A single gunshot had been heard, according to police commissioner Chester Williams, who told a news conference on Friday that the firearm recovered at the scene “belonged to the police and was assigned to Mr Jemmott”.
He said: “What we know is that they are friends. From what we have been made to understand, they were drinking. They were alone on the pier and, yes, they were both fully clothed.
“We have to look at the investigation with an open mind, but so far we have not had any indication to suggest that there was any third actor.
“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.”
There are reports that Hartin initially claimed that Jemmett had been shot from a passing boat.
Jemmott had a single gunshot behind his right ear, and there are reports that police believe both Hartin and the police superintendent may have been playing with his pistol while under the influence of alcohol.
Hartin and her husband, Andrew Ashcroft, had recently launched a new luxury resort, Alaia Belize, in San Pedro, near where Jemmott’s body was discovered.
Hartin’s lawyer Godfrey Smith told reporters late on Monday (31 May) that she had been denied bail and will be remanded in prison.
He said: "The charge is manslaughter by negligence. Bail has been denied. We appeal to the Supreme Court, as is normal."
Jemmott, was a father of five with a fiance, who “would never kill himself,” his sister Marie told a Belize news channel.
She said: My brother had a passion for life. He looked forward to [seeing] his five children, his fiancée and me.”
“I ask that God open [the investigators’] hearts and minds ... so that the truth may fall in place. We are depending on the police investigation to set the record straight for us. I believe he was killed.”
Who is Lord Ashcroft?
Hartin’s partner is Andrew Ashcroft, son of billionaire businessman and Tory grandee, Lord Michael Ashcroft.
Lord Ashcroft served as Conservative party chairman between 2005 and 2010, having been a major donor to the party since at least 1998.
Born in Britain with residence in Belize, Lord Ashcroft was made a life peer and took up a seat in the House of Lords in 2000, which he retained until 2015. His appointment prompted significant criticism due to his status as a tax exile.
The government claimed Lord Ashcroft would become a full time UK resident for tax purposes in order to retain his role, but it was reported some time later that this had not occurred.
Having spent time their as a child, Lord Ashcroft has a long history with Belize and is recognised as an extremely powerful man on the carribean country.
It has been reported that he donated large amounts of money to the People’s United Party when it was in opposition, and some claim that policies enacted by the party since it came into office have benefitted Lord Ashcroft’s business interests.