A Canadian socialite accused of shooting dead a policeman in Belize has been released from jail on a $15,000 bail.
Jasmine Hartin has been charged with manslaughter by negligence after allegedly attempting to hand Henry Jemmott his service pistol after a late-night alcohol-fuelled beach massage.
Ms Hartin, 32, has two children with Andrew Ashcroft, the son of billionaire Conservative donor Lord Ashcroft, and lives with him in the Central American country.
She was bundled out of Hattieville Prison under a white sheet on Wednesday, and driven away in a waiting 4×4. She is understood to have returned home to her partner and their four-year-old twins.
The family has invested heavily in the local area, and run the new Alaia hotel resort in San Pedro.
Henry Jemmot was found floating in the sea with a bullet wound in his head
Credit: San Pedro Sun
At a bail hearing, Belizean prosecutor Shanice Lovell said Ms Hartin told police she had been drinking before Mr Jemmott, 42, let her handle his Glock 17.
They had been at a party in Ambergris Caye and went for a walk on the beach before sitting down on a pier, according to detectives.
Ms Hartin told police that she had been giving him a shoulder massage and that he handed her his gun to put down.
“After a while he said let’s head back inside and asked me to hand back the magazine,” Ms Hartin told investigators in an extract from her sworn statement read out at the country’s Supreme Court, according to Mail Online. “I struggled with it, trying to get the magazine back in, and it discharged.”
The body of Mr Jemmott, who had five children and had been a police officer for 24 years, was found in the water with a single bullet wound to the head on May 28.
Ms Hartin was discovered on the pier in a distressed state and covered in blood, according to police.
As part of her bail conditions, Ms Hartin must surrender her travel and other personal documents and will not be allowed to leave the country without the permission of the Supreme Court. She must report to the police station in San Ignacio Town every day.
Defence lawyer Godfrey Smith pointed out that she did not run from the scene or try and discard the weapon.
Jasmine Hartin has two children with Andrew Ashcroft
He said after the hearing: “It made little sense to argue flight risk if she’s under an international media microscope, for an offence for which the likely sentence may be a fine or a short term of imprisonment. It makes no sense to flee in such circumstances.”
Under Belize’s criminal code, the maximum prison sentence for manslaughter by negligence is five years.
Mr Jemmott’s sister, Marie Jemmott Tzul, told a local newspaper that the decision to charge Ms Hartin with manslaughter by negligence and not murder is “a big disrespect to my brother” who served as a police officer for 23 years.
"I would just say I am disappointed in the police department and that’s not only my opinion but it’s a consensus of my family, his friends and the general Belizean people,” Ms Tzul told 7 News.
“I had faith in all the police departments. It’s one of their own and I think in my honest opinion with due respect to them, I think they should have took that to court as murder and let the court decide. That’s my humble and honest opinion.”