Sitting at the edge of the pier with the waves gently lapping at her toes, the warm Caribbean breeze blowing and a full moon overhead, it could not have been a more perfect night.
Beside her, an old friend laughed and reminisced as the wine and whisky flowed. But within a couple of hours, this peaceful scene would descend into a ‘living nightmare’.
A single gunshot pierced the night air, followed by a scream – then a splash as a body entered the water.
And Jasmine Hartin’s life would never be the same again.
Today, the horrific chain of events on the night the 32-year-old socialite accidentally shot dead her good friend, Belize police superintendent Henry Jemmott, can be revealed in detail for the first time.
The horrific chain of events on the night Jasmine Hartin (pictured) accidentally shot dead her friend, Belize police superintendent Henry Jemmott, can be revealed in detail for the first time
Although she has not spoken directly to The Mail on Sunday, this newspaper understands she told police about the moment the gun went off: ‘Henry fell back on top of me. I was pinned down and he was bleeding all over me.
‘As I was wriggling to get out from under him, to get free so I could check to see if he was OK, he slipped into the water.’
A frantic Jasmine screamed for help, alerting some nearby security guards. As she paced up and down the pier, looking for his body, she pleaded with people arriving at the scene to help find her friend. She is said to have called the situation ‘a living nightmare’.
While the world has been gripped by the tragedy of how a 6ft, 21 stone ‘bear’ of a man ended up on a mortuary slab, a gaping bullet-hole behind his right ear, rumours have abounded about what really happened in the early hours of Friday, May 28.
Was it a lover’s tiff? A drug deal gone wrong? Neither is true. Instead it was an innocent reunion with an old friend – one who sought only to protect her.
But it set off a chain of events which left two families devastated.
Jasmine and Jemmott had been friends for years, ever since he worked his way up through the ranks on the tropical island of Ambergris Caye, where served from 2014 to 2019, eventually becoming a police chief.
Jasmine and long-time partner Andrew, 43, live at the Grand Colony hotel in the island’s capital San Pedro – Andrew also operates the luxury venue. Next door, the family has just opened a spectacular £700-a-night resort, Alaia.
Supt Jemmott used to dine with Jasmine occasionally when he was stationed in San Pedro but the pair saw less of each other following his transfer to the town of San Ignacio on the mainland.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that on May 22, six days before the shooting, Jasmine was on the mainland. She attended a party in the capital, Belmopan, when a man suddenly became aggressive towards her.
Jasmine (pictured leaving San Pedro police station on May 30) is said to have called the situation ‘a living nightmare’. She remains in custody in Belize’s notorious central prison
Sources confirmed she was so shaken that she called her police chief friend, who was an hour’s drive away in Belize City.
Supt Jemmott immediately despatched some officers from a nearby station, who raced to Jasmine’s side, picked her up and waited with her as Jemmott drove more than 50 miles in the middle of the night to pick her up. By the time he reached her it was 4.30am.
It was during the drive back to Belize City, where Jasmine could catch a ferry back to her island home, that Supt Jemmott first suggested she get a gun.
He took his police-issued Glock 17 from his holster as he drove and handed it to her. Jasmine has said: ‘He told me I needed to get a gun for my own personal protection.
‘We started talking about guns. He made me unload the bullets from his gun and reload them, time and again, to practise for when I eventually got my gun licence and my own gun.’
After she returned home, the policeman continued to text to make sure she was OK.
He mentioned he was taking some ‘personal time’ away from his common-law wife Romit and their three children. Jasmine immediately offered to put him up at the Grand Colony, in Unit 1, a pretty villa right on the beach, as a thank you.
The following Wednesday, May 26, Henry and his friend Manuel Pacheco checked in.
Pacheco was an unusual choice of companion for a high-ranking police officer. The jeweller had been charged with shooting dead his neighbour Jose Villanueva during an argument in 2018.
He shot Villanueva four times, including in the back. CCTV footage showed the victim staggering back towards his home before collapsing in a pool of blood.
Facing capital murder charges, Pacheco remained behind bars until his trial in February last year when he was acquitted, with the judge accepting his story that he acted in self-defence because Villanueva tried to draw his gun first.
Jemmott’s friend, Francisco ‘Panny’ Arceo, a boat captain, told the MoS: ‘Henry rang me as soon as he got to the island. We were very close.
‘He and Manuel came for dinner at my house on Wednesday and we arranged to go fishing at 9am the next day.
‘I didn’t know who Manuel was at first. When I found out I was upset. He is notorious. He killed a friend of mine. If I’d known who he was I would never have let him in my house or on my boat.’
Jasmine told police that Henry asked to see her that Wednesday evening but she was busy with her young twins so had to decline. The next night she and partner Andrew attended a party at the Sunset Roof Top Lounge, returning home to Grand Colony at 10.30pm.
Henry and his friend had been out fishing from 9am to 3pm. Then they hit the bars before returning to the hotel. Fisherman Panny said: ‘Henry liked his whisky. It’s all he drank.’
After the shooting, Jasmine is believed to have paced up and down the pier (pictured), looking for Jemmott’s body and she pleaded with people arriving at the scene to help find her friend
Jasmine and Jemmott (pictured) had been friends for years, ever since he worked his way up through the ranks on the tropical island of Ambergris Caye, where served from 2014 to 2019
Meanwhile, Jasmine arranged to see her friend, despite the fact that both parties had already been drinking.
She asked Andrew if he wanted to join them as they were all friends but he was tired and told Jasmine to go ahead without him.
She took a bottle of wine and some miniature-sized bottles of whisky, arriving at Henry’s villa at 10.45pm. His friend Manuel was asleep.
Jasmine and Henry sat on the balcony of his villa and drank shots. Despite the island operating a 10pm Covid curfew, it is understood she suggested the pair head down to the pier at the nearby Banana Beach resort. Just before they left, Henry picked up his gun from the kitchen counter.
On the pier, they sat side by side, chatting and listening to music.
It is understood Jasmine told police: ‘I was to the right of him. At some point he said, ‘Let’s see if you’ve improved your gun skills.’ ‘
Jasmine admits she’d been slow when loading and unloading his gun during the car ride days before.
‘We’re sitting on the pier and I start loading and unloading his gun again,’ she is said to have told police.
‘The last time I did it, he took the bullets as I was unloading and placed them on the left side of him. I then put the gun, with the magazine clipped inside it, beside me to the right.’
Police would later find a pile of unspent bullets at the scene.
Jasmine explained that her friend then complained of a sore shoulder. Fisherman Panny told the MoS: ‘He was reeling in fish when we were together, so I’m not surprised he had a sore shoulder.’
Supt Jemmott asked her for a massage, prompting Jasmine to joke about him being spoiled. But she relented, and moved behind him to rub his shoulder.
After a while, Supt Jemmott suggested they return to the Grand Colony and asked Jasmine to hand him the magazine so he could reload the gun.
She is understood to have told police: ‘I picked up the gun and tried to eject the magazine clip but it was stuck.
‘I struggled with it, trying to get the magazine out, when the gun suddenly went off. I had no idea it still had a bullet in the chamber.’
Horrified and in ‘utter shock’, Jasmine recoiled. As the body fell back on to her, covering her with blood, she tried to extricate herself, only for Henry to fall into the water.
She became ‘hysterical’, according to several sources who spoke to the MoS.
Security guards from a nearby hotel raced to the scene to find her pacing up and down on the pier.
One person picked up the gun while Jasmine, in a state of shock, sat down on rocks before blood was swabbed from her arm.
Once at the police station, Panny, who also serves as the island’s Justice of the Peace, arrived to formally remand her in custody.
Sources told the Mail on Sunday the Ashcroft family (pictured: Jasmine’s long-time partner Andrew) has been left ‘devastated’ by the incident
He told the MoS: ‘She was in shock. I was too. I couldn’t believe the friend I’d been fishing with a few hours before had been shot dead.
‘When I saw Jasmine, her eyes were glazed over. She didn’t know who I was.’
Later that day Panny used the same boat that he and Henry had been fishing in to take his friend’s body to the mainland for a post-mortem.
The examination revealed he died of a ‘massive haemorrhage to the brain caused by a single gunshot wound behind the right ear’.
Last night the devastation wrought by the event continued to reverberate. Jasmine remains in custody in Belize’s notorious central prison, denied bail, according to some, because of the controversy the case has stirred up. Her next bail hearing is on Wednesday.
Sources told the MoS the Ashcroft family has been left ‘devastated’ by the incident.
‘Lord Ashcroft has devoted his life to Belize and the Belizean people,’ one local said. ‘This is so sad for him and his family.’
In the scope of the whole tragedy it is the children people care most about.
Panny said: ‘My friend Henry has five kids. Two teenagers and then three young ones from his current partner. Jasmine has two kids. Whatever has happened, this is a tragedy for two families, for two sets of children. Here on Belize we are praying for everyone.’
No member of the Ashcroft family wished to comment.
Troubled police chief allegedly shot dead by Jasmine Hartin was ‘so drunk’ on the day he died he was ‘pulled over for erratic driving in his golf cart”
Troubled police chief Henry Jemmott was so drunk on the day he died that another officer pulled him over for driving his golf cart in an ‘erratic’ manner, The Mail on Sunday has been told.
Supt Jemmott was on a five-day break after being given official leave from his duties for ‘personal reasons’.
Hours before he was shot dead, a traffic officer pulled him over as he ‘swerved’ along an island road.
‘He was inebriated, very drunk,’ the source said.
‘He was so drunk he was swerving all over the place. He was driving the golf cart erratically. You could smell the liquor. He was spoken to but allowed to continue.’
The father-of-five was ‘plagued by demons’, according to one woman who knows his common-law-wife, Romit Wilson. Ms Wilson is the mother of Supt Jemmott’s three youngest children.
‘Did he like whisky? Yes. Did he like cocaine? Yes. Did he like to party? Absolutely,’ said the source.
‘He was a very complicated character who portrayed himself a certain way but the reality was very different. He had a lot of demons.’
Police chief Henry Jemmott (pictured) was so drunk on the day he died that an officer pulled him over for driving his golf cart in an ‘erratic’ manner, The Mail on Sunday has been told
The Mail on Sunday has been told Ms Wilson is estranged from Supt Jemmott’s family, who are ‘outraged’ that Jasmine Hartin has not been charged with his murder.
They are planning to file a multi-million-pound wrongful death lawsuit.
‘Money has power here,’ said Supt Jemmott’s sister, Vidalia Cadogan.
A source added: ‘His funeral is being held on Friday. His sisters are organising it because of the rift between the family and Romit.’
Supt Jemmott’s best friend, fishing captain Francesco ‘Panny’ Arceo, was with him from 9am to 3pm on the day of his death. They later had dinner together.
Panny said: ‘He was happy he was catching a lot of fish. He put on a carefree face and he would never talk about problems at home. Real men never do that.
‘He didn’t drink on the boat. We came back at 3pm and then he and his friend went off for a shower and drinks.
‘They came back to my house for dinner. I knew they’d had a few drinks. That’s what Henry was like. I didn’t judge him.
‘When I asked him where he was staying, he said, ‘I’m at Grand Colony. I’m best friends with the Ashcrofts.’
‘He was proud of his association with the Ashcroft family. He bragged about it.
‘We ate the red snapper that we had caught earlier that day. He ate every last bit of it and left at 9.15pm.
‘Henry was bowing as he went out the door. He said, ‘Thank you, my friend. I will never forget today.’
‘I had a feeling I would never see him again.’
The following day, Panny transported his friend’s body from the island to the mainland in his fishing boat ahead of the post-mortem examination.
‘I didn’t open the body bag,’ he recalls. ‘I want to remember him as he was.’
Bullets found at the scene where Jasmine Hartin ‘shot a Belize policeman with a Glock 17 handgun convinced prosecutors that the killing was accidental’
Socialite Jasmine Hartin’s full dramatic account of how a Belizean police chief was shot dead as they enjoyed a moonlight drink together is revealed for the first time today in The Mail on Sunday.
The partner of Lord Ashcroft’s son accidentally killed her friend, Superintendent Henry Jemmott, with his own gun as he drunkenly tried to teach her to use it, The Mail on Sunday has learned.
As Ms Hartin’s story is disclosed for the first time, sources close to the investigation have told this newspaper:
- Bullets found at the scene convinced prosecutors her claim she had been practising unloading and loading Supt Jemmott’s semi-automatic police-issue Glock 17 handgun were true;
- Traffic police pulled over a ‘highly intoxicated’ Jemmott that day as he swerved around the island on a golf cart;
- The superintendent was on holiday, sharing a hotel room with a man who once stood trial for murder;
- A court’s decision to refuse Ms Hartin’s bail – keeping her locked up in Belize’s most notorious jail – is ‘politically motivated’ and designed to assuage the public who are ‘baying for blood’.
Jasmine Hartin (pictured in 2013) accidentally killed Superintendent Henry Jemmott, with his own gun as he drunkenly tried to teach her to use it, The Mail on Sunday has learned
Questions are being asked about why Supt Jemmott gave Ms Hartin his service weapon after he had been drinking heavily.
It has also been suggested that the officer had been given time off because of his mental wellbeing following relationship problems – prompting claims that he should have had his gun confiscated.
This raises the prospect that Ms Hartin – a Canadian socialite who has twins with Andrew Ashcroft, the son of the former Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party – will plead not guilty to a charge of manslaughter by negligence over the incident on May 28 on the island of Ambergris Caye.
Last night a friend said: ‘She has gone through every emotion you can imagine. Initially she was a total wreck but as the days have gone by she has improved.’
A visitor who went to see her added: ‘She’s holding up pretty well. Obviously, as a mother, her main concern is for her twins.’
Ms Hartin’s gripping account of the night of the shooting reveals for the first time how 6ft, 21 stone Supt Jemmott, a police officer with two decades of firearms experience, actively encouraged the 5ft 2in socialite to practise loading and unloading his gun as they sat drinking wine and mini-bottles of potent ‘fireball’ whisky.
Questions are being asked about why Supt Jemmott (pictured) gave Ms Hartin his service weapon after he had been drinking heavily
A week earlier the policeman, 42, had told her to buy a gun after she was threatened by a man in a bar. We can reveal that it was on a car journey following the incident that Supt Jemmott first gave her his gun and instructed her to practise reloading the bullets.
Of the night of the fatal shooting, she said Supt Jemmott handed her his gun as they were sitting next to each other on the pier looking out to sea. He then asked her to demonstrate her gun skills to see if they had improved.
Ms Hartin said he placed some bullets on the pier after unloading them.
Police confirmed last week that bullets were recovered from the scene, with a source adding: ‘That was enough for the Director of Public Prosecutions to accept Jasmine’s account that she had been practising with the gun was substantially true – otherwise how would those bullets have got there? There was no evidence of a deliberate intent to kill somebody.’
The MoS has been told the shooting took place after Supt Jemmott spent the day fishing and drinking with friends including Manuel Pacheco, 59, a jeweller from Belize City who was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in 2018 after shooting his neighbour.
Mr Pacheco was kept behind bars for two years until a judge acquitted him in February last year, accepting he acted in self-defence.
A source said police had pulled the two men over earlier on the day of the shooting as they drove around the island in a golf cart: ‘Jemmott was highly intoxicated. The golf cart was swerving all over the place so a traffic officer pulled him over. He definitely had liquor in his system. He was as drunk as f***.’
Of the night of the fatal shooting, she said Supt Jemmott handed her his gun as they were sitting on the pier looking out to sea. Pictured: Stock image of beach resort in Belize
Police Commissioner Chester Williams last week confirmed that Supt Jemmott had been given time off for ‘personal reasons’.
Multiple sources have said he was having relationship problems with his fiancee Romit Wilson, the mother of his three youngest children, and had asked for a five-day break for his mental wellbeing.
The MoS’s source says Ms Hartin’s lawyers will probably question why a police chief with ‘personal issues’ was allowed to retain his service weapon.
A source said: ‘It’s hard to see how Jasmine can be charged with negligence. She was with a trusted senior police officer who was a friend.
‘He had been drinking and was prepared to hand his gun to a woman to practise loading and unloading the weapon.
‘If it is the case that he had been given time off for emotional and personal reasons, why had the police not asked him to hand in his gun?
‘All of this raises questions about where the negligence lay.’
Jasmine Hartin was refused bail ‘for political reasons’ to calm the public which is ‘baying for blood’ – while she is locked up in a notoriously tough Belize prison
Jasmine Hartin is stuck behind bars ‘for political reasons’, a source close to the case claimed on Saturday night.
Ms Hartin remains in solitary confinement at the notoriously tough Belize Central Jail after her bail plea was adjourned.
In Belize, a person with no criminal record should automatically receive bail for the charge of manslaughter with negligence.
But the Director of Public Prosecutions has deemed Ms Hartin ‘a flight risk’ and has adjourned her bail application until Wednesday.
Jasmine Hartin is stuck behind bars ‘for political reasons’, a source claimed on Saturday night. Pictured: A grab from footage of Hartin being transferred to prison on June 1, 2021
It has been suggested the decision was designed to counter criticism that the wealthy socialite has received ‘special treatment’ because of billionaire Lord Ashcroft’s extensive business interests in Belize.
A source said: ‘The public is baying for blood. There’s a feeling she’s getting away with it.
‘Politicians and police want her to stay in prison to assuage the public. It could be a year before there is a trial.
In private, politicians accept this was an accident, but if voters say she needs to be hung, drawn and quartered, it will take a brave politician to say they’re wrong.
‘She is certainly not being given any special treatment in jail – she’s being segregated for her own safety’.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of a £7,000 fine and five years in jail, but if a judge agrees the death was accidental, it is unlikely Ms Hartin will spend any further time behind bars.
The source said: ‘It’s a relatively small fine, so why would she go on the run? She being punished for political reasons.’