Canadian socialite Jasmine Hartin pleaded guilty to manslaughter by negligence on Tuesday, nearly three years after accidentally shooting a Belize police superintendent in the head with his own gun. The plea, submitted just before a trial was slated to begin, ends a lengthy saga that had captivated the Central American nation.
Hartin, the former daughter-in-law of British billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft, reportedly wept as she declared herself guilty in the killing of police superintendent Henry Jemmott. “I just want Henry’s family to have peace now and I want this whole thing to be behind all of us so we can heal,” she said after leaving the courtroom.
According to Hartin’s account of the tragic shooting, she and Jemmott walked to a pier in May 2021 in San Pedro, Belize, after drinking cinnamon whiskey together. She said Jemmott let her handle his Glock 17, as he thought she needed to learn how to operate a firearm to protect herself. (Jemmott’s sister, Cherry, previously told CBS she believed her brother “would never do a thing like that.”)
After handling the weapon, Hartin said, Jemmott told her that his shoulder was stiff, and she offered to massage it. Jemmott then suggested they “head inside,” she recalled to CBS. She then tried to remove the magazine from the gun but struggled to see clearly in the darkness, she said. Suddenly, as she was fumbling with the firearm, it went off.
“He fell on top of me. And all I could feel was warmth. And I later then realized—he was bleeding on me,” she said. Jemmott’s body was later retrieved in the water near the pier.
At first, Hartin told authorities that Jemmott had been shot by an assailant in a kayak, as Channel 5 Belize reported. She later told CBS that she didn’t remember making that claim, adding that the aftermath of the shooting “was such a blur.” She insisted that she wasn’t just lying in a weak attempt at avoiding accountability.
Police officials found cocaine in Hartin’s possession when she was taken into custody. She told CBS the drugs weren’t hers but declined to say who they belonged to. She also insisted that she and Jemmott were simply friends, not romantic partners, and that her persona as a “wild, crazy, party girl that’s hanging from the rafters” was off base. “That’s not it at all. I’m a businesswoman. I’m a mother. I’m a friend… I’m a wife,” she said.
Andrew Ashcroft, Hartin’s ex-husband, was awarded custody of their two kids last year. Ashcroft’s billionaire father is an influential figure in Belize and once served as its ambassador to the United Nations.
Hartin is scheduled to be sentenced next month and is not expected to receive jail time.