Jasmine Hartin, the daughter-in-law of British billionaire and political power broker Lord Michael Ashcroft, will be released from jail while she is prosecuted for shooting a top police officer in Belize.
The Canadian national has been in police custody since her May 28 arrest, with prosecutors calling her a flight risk. But after a Wednesday hearing, a judge decided to grant her bail in the amount of $30,000 and allow her to return home to her 4-year-old twins, local outlets reported.
The ruling is sure to be controversial in Belize, where suspicions that Hartin’s wealth and family connection are getting her special treatment run high. However, her release was not entirely unexpected since the charge she faces, manslaughter by negligence, rarely carries serious jail.
Hartin is the wife of Andrew Ashcroft and was the director of lifestyle and experience at the luxury resort he developed and owns. Andrew is the youngest son of Lord Ashcroft, who has extensive business interests in Belize and even bankrolled the police force’s gym. He’s also been a member of the British House of Lords, a Conservative Party official, and a major political donor.
The victim in the case, Superintendent Henry Jemmott, was a well-known cop in Belize with social ties to the Ashcrofts.
Almost two weeks ago, while on personal leave, he and Hartin were socializing on a deserted pier in San Pedro after curfew when a shot rang out. A security guard rushed over to find Jemmott, a giant of a man, dead in the water and Hartin with blood on her hands and clothes.
What transpired between them has been shrouded in secrecy, but there are reports that Jemmott had been showing Hartin how to use a gun for her protection—and that she accidentally shot him behind the ear when he had her hand the gun over as she was giving him a neck rub.
She retained the nation’s former attorney general as her defense lawyer, and was charged with manslaughter as Jemmott’s family angrily demanded a murder charge. But in an unusual move, she was not granted bail immediately and was shipped from San Pedro to Belize City to a notorious lockup while awaiting a ruling from a magistrate on her release.