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The daughter-in-law of British political and business titan Lord Michael Ashcroft was charged Monday with manslaughter by negligence in the shooting death of a top police officer in Belize.
The arraignment of Jasmine Hartin, 38, comes three days after she was initially detained—after being found spattered with blood on a dock where she and Superintendent Henry Jemmott had been socializing alone after curfew, police said.
Jemmott, 42, was found dead in the water with a gunshot wound behind his ear. Police said the weapon used was his service pistol.
According to local reports, Hartin initially suggested to responding officers that Jemmott might have been shot by a passing boat, then stopped cooperating with investigators while one of the country’s top lawyers was retained for her.
However, police reportedly told 7 News Belize that Hartin started talking again when local authorities threatened her with cocaine possession charges. She reportedly admitted that she shot the officer when handing him his pistol while giving him a massage, and then pushed him into the water in a panic after his lifeless body fell on her.
After she was arraigned Monday night, bail was denied by the magistrate, though she can ask a higher court to release her, according to reports.
Belize Police Commissioner Chester Williams told reporters that Hartin provided a statement but he declined to provide details of her account.
“We cannot say we have a clear understanding of what happened because we were not there,” he said.
“The only two persons who could have said that is the deceased and Ms. Hartin. The deceased is dead. He cannot speak for himself. Dead man carries no tale. Ms. Hartin has given her version of what she said transpired.”
Hartin, a Canadian who lives in Belize, is the wife of Andrew Ashcroft, the youngest son of Lord Ashcroft. The elder Ashcroft is a billionaire known as a top donor to the U.K. Conservative Party who also has massive business interests in Belize and recently donated a fully equipped gym to the police department.
Hartin, who reportedly has two children with the younger Ashcroft, was the director of lifestyle and experience at the Alaia Belize, a luxury resort developed by her husband.
Jemmott had five children and was engaged. His family has been demanding answers about what happened on the pier and brushing aside any suggestions that he might have taken his own life.
“My brother loved life, he loved life. He had passion for his work. He did his work with integrity and that's the way he loved his family as well,” his sister, Marie Jemmott Tzul told reporters.