The bloodstained planks have been taken up, turned upside-down and nailed back at the end of the jetty where police superintendent Henry Jemmott lost his life.
The inhabitants of the island town of San Pedro in Belize have a hard enough time keeping the white-sand beaches clear of the Sargassum seaweed washing in from Mexico without leaving a gruesome souvenir of his death last week to further distress the tourists who come here.
For it was there that 42-year-old Mr Jemmott, a bearish Belizean, and 32-year-old Jasmine Hartin, a petite blonde and very rich Canadian expat, adjourned for a mellow late-night chat that ended catastrophically in his death with a bullet in the head.
And it’s fair to say that, for many, the question of what brought such an unlikely pair together, after midnight at the end of a pier, will have been as puzzling as how Mr Jemmott came to be shot behind his left ear with his own gun.
The question of what brought Henry Jemmott and Jasmine Hartin (pictured in 2013) together, after midnight at the end of a pier, will be as puzzling as how Mr Jemmott came to be shot
The first of those conundrums is further complicated by reports that Ms Hartin told police they had gone out to watch the moon together, and that she had given him a shoulder massage.
According to police sources, she says she then handed him his service pistol — a semi-automatic Glock 17 — which he had put down on the jetty and, in the process, she accidentally shot him.
So what on earth was the relationship between the 27st cop and the wealthy socialite?
Jasmine Hartin, after all, is the long-time girlfriend of Andrew Ashcroft, whose billionaire tycoon father, the Tory peer Lord Ashcroft, has been linked to Belize for decades.
The couple have two children and live in considerable style in a gleaming white villa-style beachside development.
Their home is next door to their swanky hotel, the Alaia Belize, a multi-million-pound collaboration with the Marriott group that has been open for only a month.
Their burgeoning property empire sits little more than 100 yards from the scruffy jetty where Mr Jemmott died.
The superintendent, meanwhile, hailed from an entirely different world as the hard-working, ambitious but modestly paid police officer and father of five.
Mr Jemmott, 42, and Jasmine Hartin, 32, a petite blonde and rich Canadian expat, adjourned for a mellow late-night chat that ended catastrophically in his death with a bullet in the head
He was the son of a construction worker, and those who knew him concur that he was a devoted family man, and a kind and loyal friend.
Perhaps most memorably, he was also arguably the toughest policeman in the country.
‘That’s the big irony: a single blonde appears to have been able to kill him when no criminal gang in Belize would have dared try it on with ‘Big Hog’ Henry,’ his best friend, chef Sean Kuylen, tells the Mail, using one of Mr Jemmott’s many size-related nicknames.
‘Nobody on the streets would have touched him — he commanded respect.’
It was largely down to his reputation as a ‘no-nonsense’ street cop that Mr Jemmott was recently transferred to lead the police in Belize City’s gang-plagued ‘Southside’, Mr Kuylen says.
As the youngest officer ever to have been promoted to superintendent, Mr Jemmott (whose grandfather was a Barbados policeman who moved to Belize) was destined for the top.
Which is why Mr Kuylen wasn’t remotely surprised that the superintendent — who ran San Pedro’s police force a few years ago — should have become friendly with Mr Ashcroft and his partner.
Nor are people in San Pedro taken aback by the association. With a population of some 17,000, San Pedro — which sits on the sailing, diving and sandy beach mecca that is the island of Ambergris Caye — is small, and island life tends to throw people together.
It no doubt also helped that both Ms Hartin and Mr Jemmott are, or were, friendly, outgoing people.
Social media accounts show glamorous Ms Hartin enjoying herself around the island sporting shorts and sunglasses: there’s a picture on a boat with businessman Seferino Paz; another of the two of them relaxing on a poolside cabana with the caption: ‘This is how we do business meetings.’
She may be termed a ‘socialite’, but locals tend to describe her as a ‘party girl’ who liked to visit bars and mix with ordinary folk.
Gene Lopez, owner of late-night bar Crazy House in San Pedro, said Ms Hartin was a regular visitor.
She would buy round after round, he said, sometimes staying until 6am and even clambering onto the bar to perform ‘ass-shaking’ Caribbean dance moves.
Bloodstained planks have been taken up on the jetty where police superintendent Henry Jemmott died. People of San Pedro, Belize, (pictured: Ambergris Caye) have a hard enough time keeping the white-sand beaches clear without a gruesome souvenir of his death
Karaoke sessions of Bob Marley reggae songs were also a regular feature of her visits.
‘Jasmine would come to Crazy House to relax. She was a regular for two years. I never had a problem with her,’ he says.
‘She would exhale as soon as she walked through the door because she could be herself here.
‘She had a luxurious lifestyle, but she enjoyed being with locals — she felt more alive.
‘She explained that, being rich, you have to be high and mighty, respectful — you can’t be yourself. And she enjoyed life, she enjoyed freedom.
‘At one point she would come and stay sometimes until six in the morning.
‘Sometimes she would come alone and get a hammock and she would just relax,’ Lopez claims. ‘She would have one or two cocktails. I’ve never seen her drunk . . . ever. Whatever she did, she could always remember it in the morning.’
Superintendent Jemmott, too, liked to relax when he was off-duty.
‘We used to call him ‘Uncle Shrek’, like the character from the animated film,’ says his friend Sean Kuylen.
‘He was an ogre of a man, but deep down he was a loving, gentle giant.’
And reportedly a giant who liked a beer or two as well as a party.
On the night of his death, Mr Jemmott was staying as a guest of Ms Hartin and Andrew Ashcroft. He had spent the day with friends, indulging in his greatest passion, fishing, and would have no doubt been tired and dehydrated after a long day on a boat.
Whatever the case, all kinds of rumours are circulating around San Pedro and Belize about the relationship between Ms Hartin and Mr Jemmott.
An unnamed friend of Mr Jemmott has claimed the policeman — whose marital status on Facebook was ‘single’ — told him he was going on a date on the night he died, and that he would take the woman’s identity ‘to the grave’.
But Mr Kuylen dismisses talk of any sexual liaison between Mr Jemmott and Ms Hartin — although he admits that the policeman had never confided in him about his friendship with her or Mr Ashcroft.
He also rejects rumours that Mr Jemmott was unhappy in his relationship with the mother of his youngest children and had unburdened himself to Ms Hartin.
So what on was the relationship between the cop and the socialite? Jasmine Hartin, after all, is the long-time girlfriend of Andrew Ashcroft (pictured)
Mr Kuylen reveals that just two months ago the police chief had taken out a large loan to expand his family home in San Ignacio, western Belize.
‘Why would he borrow a lot of money to do up their home if the relationship wasn’t working? He’s a devoted husband,’ he says.
Somewhat bluntly, he states another reason that weighs against the tryst theory: ‘Jasmine is glamorous and attached to a very wealthy person. What would she want with a common policeman?’ And one, he adds, who weighed almost 27st.
Of Ms Hartin, he says: ‘She seems to like to have a good time. People lose their inhibitions in the Caribbean.’
Mr Jemmott’s two sisters, Cherry — herself an assistant superintendent in the Belize police — and Marie, have also played down any notion of a sexual angle to the relationship.
‘He was a family man — he loved his family,’ Cherry tells the Mail. And that included his common-law wife, Romit, an ex-teacher with whom he has been for 14 years.
Mr Jemmott has three children with Romit — two girls aged 11 and nine, and a son who is six — as well as two teenage daughters from a previous relationship.
The loss of their father has been ‘very rough’ on the children and wider family, says Cherry. ‘He was the backbone of our family.’
As for Ms Hartin’s and Mr Ashcroft’s families, they have maintained silence, as she languishes in Belize’s bleak main prison after being denied bail because she’s considered a flight risk. She has been charged with causing manslaughter by negligence.
Local police chief Chester Williams confirmed officers had recovered a small amount of cocaine and says Ms Hartin may or may not be charged with possession.
The decision over the charges has outraged many Belizeans, including Mr Jemmott’s family, who have threatened to launch a wrongful death lawsuit against Ms Hartin. They say prosecutors should have charged her with murder.
Friends say Ms Hartin originally came to San Pedro from Canada only after her older brother, Daniel, had moved to the town in 2009 to work as an estate agent.
She initially worked in his business, before meeting Andrew Ashcroft, who has a lifetime’s association with the country.
Ms Hartin’s family hails from Ontario, where her father was a farmer and other members of her family have a business cleaning septic tanks.
Whether the Belize justice system can clean up the mystery of Mr Jemmott’s death is another matter entirely.
Andrew Ashcroft is the son of billionaire tycoon and Tory peer father Lord Ashcroft (pictured) who has been linked to Belize for decades
It’s hardly surprising that the superintendent was off duty and still carrying his firearm, however.
With Mexico and Guatemala on one side and the Caribbean on the other, Belize is one of the region’s major ‘wet drop’ locations, where drug traffickers drop cocaine shipments into the sea from boats or planes so they can be picked up surreptitiously by local vessels.
‘There’s so much cocaine around that if you walk on the beach, you’ll probably find some washed up,’ says Jamal Nasser, the Lebanese-born owner of a San Pedro golfcart rental company.
Less than two hours from the U. S. and the only Central or South American country where English is the official language, Belize has long been a popular holiday destination for Americans. Many of them are retirees seeking sun, sea and sand for a bargain price.
Others are often rather less salubrious, said U.S. expat Eric Trachman, a boat engineer who keeps a handgun tucked into his shorts.
‘This is the Devil’s playground,’ he says. ‘Most of the Americans here are running from something — anything from tax evasion and murder to child support arrears.’
They also come to flout convention and misbehave.
‘People come here for the sun and sea, to not have to wear a suit and sit behind a desk all day,’ says Jamal Nasser. ‘It’s island life.’
Could it have been that ‘island life’ free spirit that brought a Caribbean police superintendent and a Canadian party girl together late one night — with such tragic consequences?
Socialite Jasmine Hartin pictured beaming in 2013 snap in her native Canada – a world away from the infamous Belize prison where she is being held for shooting dead police superintendent
- Miss Hartin, partner of Lord Ashcroft’s son, was pictured with a friend in 2013
- Jasmine, now 32, was arrested in Belize after the death of a police chief last week
- Her modest upbringing was a world away from the millionaire’s playground
- There, she raised two children with successful hotel developer Andrew Ashcroft – son of Lord Ashcroft – until last week’s tragic events
by Nick Craven for MailOnline
This was Jasmine Hartin in 2013 in her native Canada, a world away from the grim Belize jail where she now faces manslaughter charges.
Now the partner of billionaire Lord Ashcroft’s son Andrew, Miss Hartin was 24 when photographed with friend Alexandra Olson at a charity wine auction in Calgary Alberta for the city’s local paper, though she was brought up in eastern Ontario, and was married before she moved to Belize, MailOnline can reveal.
Other photos from the Facebook account she used under her married name of Castiglione, include a beaming photo of her on holiday in Paris and another believed to be as she arrived in Belize in 2014, which she captioned: ‘This was taken in Paradise’.
Jasmine was arrested following the death of a police chief a week ago.
This was Jasmine Hartin (right) in 2013 in her native Canada, a world away from the grim Belize jail where she now faces manslaughter charges
Former estate agent Jasmine, now 32, grew up around Kingston, Eastern Ontario in a large working class family of eight siblings and half-siblings.
Her late brother Todd Hartin, who died aged just 50, three years ago, ran a company emptying septic tanks, and her nephew Cameron has now taken over the firm.
It is believed Jasmine attended Sydenham High School near Kingston, a public school with around 850 pupils.
Her modest upbringing was a world away from the millionaire’s playground in San Pedro, Belize where she raised two children with successful hotel developer Andrew Ashcroft until last week’s tragic events.
The mother of two, currently being held in Belize’s infamous Central Prison, nicknamed the ‘Hattieville Ramada’, faces a manslaughter by negligence charge for killing police Superintendent Henry Jemmott with his own gun.
Photos from Hartin’s former Facebook account show her holidaying in Paris and relaxing in Belize’s tropical sunshine.
Socialite Jasmine Hartin, 32, is charged with manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Belize cop ‘during a massage after drinking’
Another photo, taken when she was aged 24, appeared in a Canadian paper in Calgary, Alberta when she was a guest at a wine auction.
Hartin’s relatively humble roots might explain dailymail.com’s revelation that she liked to shun high society to carouse with working class cops in Belize at a tropical speakeasy famed for its soundproofed party rooms and marijuana-laced cognac.
Jasmine was a regular patron at the Crazy House Bar n Kitchen in San Pedro, according to owner Gene Lopez.
Lopez told DailyMail.com how care-free Hartin would buy round after round of drinks while entertaining pals with karaoke renditions of Bob Marley and the smash hit Shaggy song ‘It Wasn’t Me.’
The businessman says he never witnessed her taking drugs or drinking to excess but had to tell her off on several occasions for climbing on the countertop to perform ‘ass-shaking’ Caribbean dance moves.
In an extraordinary twist, Lopez, who also runs a security firm, was one of the first people to come across Hartin after she ‘accidentally’ shot dead father-of-five Jemmott in the Belizean coastal resort of Ambergris Caye.
Lopez raced to the Mata Rocks pier last Friday morning after a guard raised the alarm and was stunned to find his well-heeled regular spattered in blood and facing arrest.
‘Jasmine would come to Crazy House to relax. She was a regular customer for two years. I never had a problem with her,’ he told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.
The mother of two, currently being held in Belize’s infamous Central Prison, nicknamed the ‘Hattieville Ramada’, faces a manslaughter by negligence charge for killing police Superintendent Henry Jemmott with his own gun. Pictured: A grab from footage of Hartin being transferred to prison on June 1, 2021
‘She would exhale as soon as she walked through the door because she could be herself here. She had a luxurious life but she enjoyed being with locals, she felt more alive.
‘She explained that being rich, you have to be high and mighty, respectful, you can’t be yourself. And she enjoyed life, she enjoyed freedom.’
As the common law wife of Lord Ashcroft’s youngest son Andrew, Hartin rubbed shoulder with jet-setting expats and was dubbed the ‘Queen of the Alaia’, a reference to the gleaming new beachfront resort the family recently opened.
But it was in Crazy House, less than a mile down an unpaved road leading into the heart of the island’s working class San Pablo neighborhood, that the Canadian national could truly kick back and have fun, explained Lopez, 48.
Belize Police Superintendent Henry Jemmott, who was shot to death during an incident on May 28 in Belize
Miss Hartin is the partner – both business and personal – of Andrew Ashcroft, the peer’s younger son, with whom she shares two young children.
And for many ordinary Belizeans, including the family of Henry Jemmott, the dead officer, the case is raising difficult questions about the perception of the country’s justice system.
Nobody has invested more in the former British colony than Lord Ashcroft, who says he never forgot his happy times there in childhood.
He has joint British and Belizean nationality, and was once even its ambassador at the United Nations.
It has not helped that the media was expelled from the courtroom during hearings and the windows shuttered.
According to police, Miss Hartin has insisted that Superintendent Jemmott’s death was a terrible accident.
She and Andrew Ashcroft had earlier attended a party on happy-go-lucky San Pedro – celebrated in the Madonna song La Isla Bonita – and she had been drinking with Mr Jemmott on a pier near Andrew Ashcroft’s luxury Alaia resort.
It’s no secret that, although violent crime in the country isn’t high and is largely confined to warring drugs gangs, the Belizean police encourage upstanding citizens to acquire guns for personal protection.
Sources say Mr Jemmott, a friend of the couple who was off-duty but carrying his gun, suggested Miss Hartin get one for herself and they examined his Glock pistol.
Lord Ashcroft has business interests in Belize. Pictured: Lord Ashcroft and Lord Steinberg in the Robing Room of the House of Lords
The firearm, which some regard as being light on safety features, accidentally went off while she was handing it back to him and shot him in the back of the head.
A local ex-pat, Eric Trachman, in fact demonstrated to me how it could happen, producing his own handgun and explaining how a tipsy Mr Jemmott, 42, might have cleared his gun’s chamber of a round before handing it to Miss Hartin but forgotten to take out the magazine, meaning that another bullet had automatically been fed into the chamber.
Prosecutors have now charged Miss Hartin with manslaughter with negligence.
This charge can incur a five-year prison sentence but, if a guilty plea is offered, it can simply result in a fine of less than $20,000 (£7,000), some of it going to the bereaved family and some to the court.
Manslaughter by negligence is the least serious charge she could have been handed over the officer’s death and in Belize is most often given to dangerous drivers.
The idea that a rich white ex-pat could escape killing a senior black police officer with what – to her – would be a fairly painless fine has caused some controversy in a country where racial antagonism lurks under the outward veneer of sunny Caribbean affability.