Socialite Jasmine Hartin was smuggled out of a Belize jail under a blanket Wednesday after she posted bail of 30,000 Belizean dollars – equivalent to $15,000 – over the shooting death of a top cop.
Hartin, 32, was exclusively photographed by DailyMail.com leaving Hattieville Prison in Belize and clambering into a waiting vehicle which quickly sped away.
The mom-of-two, whose partner, Andrew Ashcroft, is the son of influential British billionaire, Lord Michael Ashcroft, was flanked by prison guards as she exited the facility and hid her face under a white sheet.
Her release came as she posted bond after a judge ruled she was not a flight risk and could return home to her two four-year-old twins.
In a court hearing Wednesday, the court heard how she had accidentally shot dead Superintendent Henry Jemmott as she practiced reloading his service weapon during a late night drinking session.
Socialite Jasmine Hartin was smuggled out of a Belize jail under a blanket Wednesday after she posted bail of 30,000 Belizean dollars – equivalent to $15,000 – over the shooting death of a top cop
Hartin, 32, was exclusively photographed by DailyMail.com leaving Hattieville Prison in Belize
The socialite clambered into a waiting vehicle which quickly sped away from the jail
Hartin was arrested for ‘accidentally’ shooting dead police superintendent Henry Jemmott with his own service weapon
Jemmott, 42, was found floating dead beside a pier on the upscale vacation island of San Pedro in the early hours of May 28.
Hartin was arrested that day and had been held behind bars ever since at the notorious Belize Central Prison, which once featured on the Netflix documentary ‘Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons.’.
She was charged with manslaughter by negligence, the least serious charge she could have faced and one that will likely result in just a fine or a maximum of nine months’ imprisonment.
Under the terms of her bail, she will have to report daily to a police station, adhere to a curfew, surrender her ID and passport and will require permission from the court to travel.
Hartin’s attorney Godfrey Smith, Belize’s former Attorney General, said outside court earlier that the judge rejected arguments she was a flight risk.
‘There were very long arguments. But in the end the judge felt that there was not an unacceptable risk of flight once the appropriate conditions could be put in place,’ Smith said.
At the bail hearing to determine whether the mother-of-two should be released, Belizean prosecutor Shanice Lovell said Hartin had indicated to police she was drinking and downing shots before Jemmott, 42, let her handle his gun.
‘After a while he said let’s head back inside and asked me to hand back the magazine. I struggled with it, trying to get the magazine back in, and it discharged,’ Hartin told investigators in an extract from her sworn statement read out at the country’s Supreme Court.
Hartin’s blonde hair is seen as she is surrounded by guards on leaving the prison in Belize
The mom-of-two, whose partner, Andrew Ashcroft, is the son of influential British billionaire, Lord Michael Ashcroft, was flanked by prison guards as she exited the facility
She hid her face under a white sheet. Her release came as she posted bond after a judge ruled she was not a flight risk and could return home to her two four-year-old twins
Hartin, a 32-year-old Canadian national, joined the hearing by zoom from a cellblock in Belize Central Prison, where she has been locked up for the past eight days.
However she did not speak and the video screen was angled so her face could not be seen by Jemmott’s grieving sister Marie Tzul Jemmott and nephew Mark Tzul, who were sat in the public gallery.
‘The petitioner used a dangerous weapon while under the influence of alcohol. Her subsequent use of that weapon therefore resulted in a loss of life,’ Lovell told Justice Herbert Lloyd.
She argued the seriousness of the charge ‘was not diminished’ by suggestions Jemmott, a father-of five and 24-year police veteran was negligent in letting an unlicensed person handle his gun.
The court heard that Hartin accidentally killed Jemmott as she practiced reloading his service weapon during a late night drinking session
‘The petitioner is a person of means and vast resources. As such it’s likely she would leave the jurisdiction without so much as a backward glance,’ Lovell added.
Hartin’s attorney, Godfrey Smith, questioned whether it was legal for Jemmott to possess a firearm while off duty and drinking.
He also told the court that ‘the deceased had allowed the petitioner to handle his firearm the previous week.’
Smith said Belizean law dictates that Hartin should be bailed unless there is an unacceptable risk of her absconding.
‘It would defy logic’ for her to flee, given her likely punishment may just be a fine, he told Justice Lloyd.
‘On the morning in question of the incident, Jemmott allowed Jasmine to handle his service firearm and asked her to hand it to him. Not to impugn the character of the deceased, but evidence makes it clear this was likely an accident and so what is there for her to run away from?’ he said.
Smith said Hartin has a home, a family and substantial ties to Belize, as well as investments including the gleaming new Alaia hotel resort in San Pedro which she runs with her husband.
‘It makes no sense whatsoever for this applicant to become a fugitive for life, damaging her investments, damaging the brand, especially considering the scrutiny she’s under, to be pursued by international media on an ongoing basis,’ he told the hearing.
‘Her character has not been impugned. She has assets, she has family ties, her behavior is good or if it’s not, no evidence has been offered to the contrary. She clearly has economic ties to the country.’
Hartin leaving San Pedro Police Station in handcuffs hidden by her belongings on May 30 – two days after Jemmott’s death
‘After a while he said let’s head back inside and asked me to hand back the magazine. I struggled with it, trying to get the magazine back in, and it discharged,’ Hartin told investigators in an extract from her sworn statement read out at the country’s Supreme Court
Hartin’s attorney questioned whether it was legal for Jemmott to possess a firearm while off duty and drinking. He also told the court that ‘the deceased had allowed the petitioner to handle his firearm the previous week’
Smith suggested the court could impose an ‘unprecedented’ travel ban on Hartin’s four-year-old twins as a means to ensure she remains in Belize.
‘What would the father have to say about fugitive children joining a fugitive mother?’ he added.
After a short adjournment Justice Lloyd agreed to set bail at 30,000 Belizean dollars ($15,000), twice the normal amount.
Hartin, dubbed ‘Queen of the Alaia’, spent her short stint behind bars there in a females-only unit where she is isolated from other inmates because of a two-week Covid quarantine requirement.
Prison authorities built a separate facility for women in 2002 after a spate of rapes and sexual assaults.
The unit she was in is staffed by female guards and men, including senior male management, need special permission to enter.
As of last week Hartin was one of only two Caucasians among the 1,041 prison population.
The baffling case began with a single gunshot in the early hours of May 28 after Hartin and Jemmott socialized alone at the Mata Rocks pier in violation of San Pedro’s midnight Covid curfew.
The blonde socialite spent days holed up in a tiny concrete cell at the stiflingly hot police and magistrates court complex in San Pedro, the tropical resort’s only town. She was pictured behind bars by local media on Monday evening
Police arrived to find the petite blonde pacing up and down, covered in blood, and the dead officer floating face up 30ft from the shore. He had been shot once, behind the right ear.
Jemmott’s Glock 17 was found on the pier with an empty shell casing lodged in the chamber.
Scattered nearby were loose 9mm rounds and a magazine, according to a criminal complaint seen by DailyMail.com.
Hartin allegedly told a fellow inmate at the San Pedro Jail that the shot was fired from a passing boat.
But when she spoke to investigators in the presence of Smith, she said Jemmott had placed it on the ground because she was giving him a shoulder massage. When she picked it up it went off.
The hotelier was also caught with a small amount of cocaine in her purse but has thus far not been charged over it.
DailyMail.com revealed this week that Jemmott had boasted to a friend that he had a date on the night of his death but wouldn’t tell him who it was.
He said he would take his secret ‘to the grave’ when the curious pal asked for details of the mystery woman.
Lord Ashcroft, 75, is a former deputy chairman and key financial backer 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.
Business News Governmental News Finance News