Jasmine Hartin: Lord Ashcroft’s daughter-in-law released on bail after shooting police officer dead
Lawyer who posted bail for former partner of Andrew Ashcroft says the socialite has been ‘emotionally abused’
Jasmine Hartin, the Canadian socialite accused of accidentally killing a police officer in Belize, has been released from jail for a second time after a lawyer came forward to post her bail.
Hartin was arrested last week on an additional charge of common assault after entering the home she once shared with the son of ex-Tory peer Lord Ashcroft and their two children. Hartin, 32, is awaiting trial for the manslaughter of Superintendent Henry Jemmott.
However, in the case’s latest development, lawyer Wendy Auxillou, who secured Hartin’s release, has said that Hartin has been “psychologically and emotionally abused” and that she was “thrown to the wolves”, The Times reports.
Hartin told reporters last week that her husband, Andrew Ashcroft, was seeking to agree a new custody arrangement, the paper adds.
Auxillou’s comments came after posts from Hartin’s mother were shared on Facebook claiming that her daughter’s treatment has been a form of “persecution from the Ashcroft family”. “Many of us women are victim to this,” the lawyer said: “Rich, powerful men do things like this all the time.”
The breakdown in relations between Hartin and her husband is thought to “have been triggered by her suspicion that he was attempting to limit her access to their children”, The Times reports.
Footage was posted online last week showing Hartin arriving at the gate of her old home, before shouting: “I’m trying to come in to see the kids and to get my things.
“I’m not breaking any court order. There is nothing that says I have no access to my children and nothing that says I have no access to my property. I still own half of it.”
After gaining entry to the property, she then “saw Ashcroft and pursued him through the complex, accusing him of keeping her from her children”, the paper adds, shouting: “He’s going to rot in hell for this. Why won’t you let me see my kids, Andrew?”
The Daily Mail says it is unclear whether the Ashcroft family accept her claims. “They have been approached and asked to provide a comment,” says the newspaper.
Hartin has been charged with manslaughter by negligence after shooting police chief Jemmott dead while giving him a shoulder massage during a night of drinking earlier this month.
She was taken into custody in San Pedro, Belize, on 1 June after Jemmott was “shot behind the ear with his own revolver”, the Daily Mail reports. She was released on bail on 9 June but has now been taken back into custody.
Hartin’s explanation as to how Jemmott was shot has taken several turns. Initial reports from the Mail said Hartin had “invited the veteran officer to her apartment, where the pair drank and discussed her personal security”.
They then walked a short distance to a nearby dock, where Jemmott complained to Hartin about shoulder pain and she offered to give him a massage, according to her police statement.
During the massage “he placed his service weapon on the dock”, the Mail reports, and “it was when she picked it up to pass it back to him that that loaded gun fired accidentally”.
Police Commissioner Chester C. Williams told local media that a single gunshot was heard and that “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 reports.
“A firearm was also seen on the pier that has been retrieved and we have learned that the firearm belonged to the police and was assigned to Mr Jemmott,” Williams told a press conference.
He continued that the incident “seems rather personal and not an attack”, adding: “From what we know is that they are friends. From what we have been made to understand they were drinking. From investigation, they were alone on the pier and yes they were both fully clothed.”
Hartin has since told the Daily Mail that Jemmott had come to her aid days before his death. She said he picked her up from a party after “a guy got very aggressive with me” and threw her onto a bed. The man “was trying to kiss me and pull my pants off”, she told the paper. “I was scared I was going to get raped but I fought him off.”
After the alleged assault at the party, Jemmott told her she had to learn how to load and unload his gun, she claims, telling her that she needed to carry one herself for protection. She also said that is what they were doing when Jemmott was fatally shot.
Sources at the time of her arrest in connection with Jemmott’s death told the paper that she is facing “a maximum of five years”, despite the punishment for manslaughter normally being “up to life” in prison in the Belizean criminal justice system.
“Sources with knowledge of the island's secretive justice system” also told the paper that Hartin could escape without serving jail time in exchange for “a fine of around $20,000 Belizean dollars”, which equates to just over £7,000.
Hartin’s father-in-law Lord Ashcroft is a former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party and holds Belizean citizenship, at one point representing the country at the UN.
He is a major financial backer of the Tories and made headlines in 2015 when his unauthorised biography of David Cameron claimed that the former prime minister took part in an “obscene act with a dead pig’s head” during an initiation ceremony while at Oxford University.