The sister of the prominent police officer shot dead by socialite Jasmine Hartin has rejected the decision to charge her with negligent homicide, telling DailyMail.com: “This is not justice.”
Hartin, 32, who is married to the son of British billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft, could escape with a fine of just $10,000 after authorities in Belize chose a charge of murder or full-blown manslaughter.
The mother-of-two insists she accidentally fired when she handed Chief Inspector Henry Jemmott his service weapon back after he put it on a pier while they asked for a drink and socialized last Friday.
‘It’s not right. It’s not right. The family will feel very bad. This is not justice,” said his sister Cherry Jemmott, who is also an assistant superintendent in the Belize Police Department.
Cherry Jemmott (right) sister of murdered Belizean police officer Henry Jemmott (left) spoke out against the decision to charge Jasmine Hartin with negligent homicide over her brother’s death
Canadian socialite Hartin (left) 32, has claimed she accidentally shot the Belize police officer to death on Friday after he inadvertently fired his service weapon while handing it to him.
“My brother is having a state funeral on June 12. He gave 24 years to the police. And this is the value they place on his life?’
Cherry, 48, said Hartin should have been charged with murder and then appear in court, where it would be up to a jury to determine whether the murder was manslaughter.
‘She’ll get bail in seven working days, I predict. She can afford it.
“People can see what’s going on here, they’re already saying it,” she added, referring to a deluge of social media posts complaining that Hartin was being “let down” because of her connections to the ultra-wealthy expat community.
“Because of my position I can’t say too much, but it’s not fair. Something isn’t right.
“He was our only boy. She took his life. She robbed him of his family. She has taken his love away from us.’
Police believe Jemmott and Hartin had been drinking and playing with his service weapon before it accidentally fired, hit him in the head and caused the six-foot officer to fall off a pier in the luxurious coastal enclave of Ambergris Caye.
The couple – described as old friends – were socializing in violation of Belize’s midnight Covid curfew.
After a single shot went off at 1am, the Canadian national was found at the scene by a guard who said she was “hysterical” and spattered with blood.
Police believe Jemmott and Hartin had been drinking and playing with his service weapon before it accidentally fired, hit him in the head and caused him to fall off a pier (pictured) in the luxurious coastal enclave of Ambergris Caye.
Hartin was in custody in a jail cell at the San Pedro Police Station (pictured), described by a local resident as “hell on earth”
Cherry, pictured with her brother, told DailyMail.com Hartin should have been charged with murder and then brought to trial, rather than ‘released’ on such a low charge
Jemmott, a father of five with a long-term partner, was found dead in shallow water.
Hartin clung on and called her attorney Godfrey Smith — Belize’s influential former attorney general — once she was in police custody, sources said.
However, Police Commissioner Chester Williams revealed on Sunday that Hartin had made a cautious statement and that a file had been handed over to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal.
Hartin was arraigned Monday behind a cloak of secrecy in San Pedro, the resort’s only town, despite authorities insisting that the wealthy inmate would not receive preferential treatment.
Police abruptly evicted journalists and the public from the building before being taken from the small, concrete cell, one floor up, from the small, concrete cell.
Officers cited Covid social distancing rules banning gatherings of more than ten people, although more than double that number stood in a waiting room earlier in the day.
Smith eventually came out of the three-hour hearing and confirmed that his client was charged with negligent homicide, in fact the least serious crime available.
Late Thursday night, Hartin left her luxury hotel, Alaia (pictured) and walked a short distance along a beach to a small wooden jetty to meet Jemmott.
Jasmine Hartin is pictured with her husband Andrew Ashcroft at a ribbon cutting ceremony for their new resort on May 7
While the sentence for manslaughter is ‘lifetime’ in prison – up to 25 years – in the Belize criminal system, it is reduced to a maximum of five years where the charge is negligence alone.
Sources with knowledge of the Central American nation’s secret justice system said the penalty could only be a fine of about $20,000 Belize dollars or $10,000 in American money.
Hartin was denied bail and is still in custody pending his transfer to Hattieville Prison in mainland Belize, where conditions are so bad that he has been featured on the TV show “Worlds Toughest Prisons.”
The broker and social figure is married to Andrew Ashcroft, 43, the youngest son of influential British businessman Lord Ashcroft.
Lord Ashcroft has business interests in Belize. Pictured: Lord Ashcroft and Lord Steinberg in the Robing Room of the House of Lords
Ashcroft, 75, is a former deputy chairman and a major funder of the UK’s ruling Conservative Party. He also holds Belizean citizenship, has invested heavily in the country and has represented it at the United Nations.
Ashcrofts’ latest venture – in partnership with hotel giant Marriott – is the shiny new Alaia resort, which was completed during lockdown and opened just three weeks ago.
It has a rooftop pool and rooms went for $1,000 a night this week. The Ashcrofts are also building a condominium building on nearby land.
Jemmott, a 24-year veteran of the Belize Police Force, leaves behind five children and a 14-year-old partner, described by the family as his common-law wife.
He was a senior officer on Ambergris Caye for three years from 2016, when he was thought to befriend the Ashcrofts, after which he returned to his family in mainland Belize.
Jemmott returned to the island for a vacation and fishing trip last week after taking time off from work for “personal issues,” and was in touch with Hartin, who was an “old friend.”
Despite the officer’s seniority, locals said it was a surprise to learn that an experienced street cop with working-class roots would mingle with billionaire expats like Hartin’s in-laws.
“They were both fully clothed,” Police Commissioner Chester Williams told reporters last week. ‘They were acquaintances. They were drinking a few hours before the incident.’