The daughter-in-law of conservative party donor Michael Ashcroft has been released on bail in Belize where she is accused of accidentally shooting a police officer.
Jasmine Hartin was released Wednesday after spending eight days behind bars at Belize Central Prison. She had to surrender her passport and personal documents and cannot leave the country without permission from the Supreme Court.
The deposit was set at Belize $ 30,000 (£ 10,500). Hartin, 32 years old, must report daily to the San Ignacio Town Police Station and adhere to a nighttime curfew. The prosecution opposed her release and said her wealth and connections meant she posed a flight risk.
The Canadian is the partner of Andrew Ashcroft, who has lived in Belize for two decades. His father, Lord Ashcroft, is a former Conservative Party Vice President, a former member of the House of Lords and a billionaire of British and Belizean nationality.
Authorities charged Hartin with causing negligent manslaughter. According to detectives, she attended a party last month in Ambergris Caye and then took a walk with Henry Jemmott, a local police commissioner. In the early hours of May 28, the two men sat together on a jetty.
Jemmott allegedly showed him his Glock service pistol. When she returned it to him, it accidentally went off, she told police, shooting Jemmott in the back of the head. The officer – a tall man, 1.82 meters (6 feet) tall and weighing over 135 kg (300 lbs) – rolled into the sea, dead.
Hartin said she was giving Jemmott a massage. She was found upset and covered in blood. At Wednesday’s bail hearing, her defense attorney, Godfrey Smith, stressed that she made no attempt to flee the scene or dispose of the gun.
In written submissions, his legal team said Hartin was the mother of four-year-old Belizean twins. They argued that she had close ties to Belize and therefore it was unrealistic to believe that she would flee the country.
Smith said after the hearing: “It made no sense to argue the risk of absconding if it is under the microscope of international media, for an offense for which the likely sentence may be a fine or a short sentence of imprisonment. It makes no sense to flee under such circumstances.
Prosecutors told the judge Hartin was under the influence of alcohol when she handled Jemmott’s service weapon and that she did not have a firearms license. They noted that her children – Lord Ashcroft’s grandchildren – had Canadian and Belizean passports.