(Daily Mail) – Sitting at the edge of the pier with the waves gently lapping at her toes, the warm Caribbean breeze blowing and a full moon overhead, it could not have been a more perfect night.
Beside her, an old friend laughed and reminisced as the wine and whisky flowed. But within a couple of hours, this peaceful scene would descend into a ‘living nightmare’.
A single gunshot pierced the night air, followed by a scream – then a splash as a body entered the water.
And Jasmine Hartin’s life would never be the same again.
Today, the horrific chain of events on the night the 32-year-old socialite accidentally shot dead her good friend, Belize police superintendent Henry Jemmott, can be revealed in detail for the first time.
Although she has not spoken directly to The Mail on Sunday, this newspaper understands she told police about the moment the gun went off: ‘Henry fell back on top of me. I was pinned down and he was bleeding all over me.
‘As I was wriggling to get out from under him, to get free so I could check to see if he was OK, he slipped into the water.’
A frantic Jasmine screamed for help, alerting some nearby security guards. As she paced up and down the pier, looking for his body, she pleaded with people arriving at the scene to help find her friend. She is said to have called the situation ‘a living nightmare’.
While the world has been gripped by the tragedy of how a 6ft, 21 stone ‘bear’ of a man ended up on a mortuary slab, a gaping bullet-hole behind his right ear, rumours have abounded about what really happened in the early hours of Friday, May 28.
Was it a lover’s tiff? A drug deal gone wrong? Neither is true. Instead it was an innocent reunion with an old friend – one who sought only to protect her.
But it set off a chain of events which left two families devastated.
Jasmine and Jemmott had been friends for years, ever since he worked his way up through the ranks on the tropical island of Ambergris Caye, where served from 2014 to 2019, eventually becoming a police chief.
Jasmine and long-time partner Andrew, 43, live at the Grand Colony hotel in the island’s capital San Pedro – Andrew also operates the luxury venue. Next door, the family has just opened a spectacular £700-a-night resort, Alaia.
Supt Jemmott used to dine with Jasmine occasionally when he was stationed in San Pedro but the pair saw less of each other following his transfer to the town of San Ignacio on the mainland.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that on May 22, six days before the shooting, Jasmine was on the mainland. She attended a party in the capital, Belmopan, when a man suddenly became aggressive towards her.
Sources confirmed she was so shaken that she called her police chief friend, who was an hour’s drive away in Belize City.
Supt Jemmott immediately despatched some officers from a nearby station, who raced to Jasmine’s side, picked her up and waited with her as Jemmott drove more than 50 miles in the middle of the night to pick her up. By the time he reached her it was 4.30am.
It was during the drive back to Belize City, where Jasmine could catch a ferry back to her island home, that Supt Jemmott first suggested she get a gun.
He took his police-issued Glock 17 from his holster as he drove and handed it to her. Jasmine has said: ‘He told me I needed to get a gun for my own personal protection.
‘We started talking about guns. He made me unload the bullets from his gun and reload them, time and again, to practise for when I eventually got my gun licence and my own gun.’
After she returned home, the policeman continued to text to make sure she was OK.
He mentioned he was taking some ‘personal time’ away from his common-law wife Romit and their three children. Jasmine immediately offered to put him up at the Grand Colony, in Unit 1, a pretty villa right on the beach, as a thank you.
The following Wednesday, May 26, Henry and his friend Manuel Pacheco checked in.
Pacheco was an unusual choice of companion for a high-ranking police officer. The jeweller had been charged with shooting dead his neighbour Jose Villanueva during an argument in 2018.
He shot Villanueva four times, including in the back. CCTV footage showed the victim staggering back towards his home before collapsing in a pool of blood.
Facing capital murder charges, Pacheco remained behind bars until his trial in February last year when he was acquitted, with the judge accepting his story that he acted in self-defence because Villanueva tried to draw his gun first.
Jemmott’s friend, Francisco ‘Panny’ Arceo, a boat captain, told the MoS: ‘Henry rang me as soon as he got to the island. We were very close.
‘He and Manuel came for dinner at my house on Wednesday and we arranged to go fishing at 9am the next day.
‘I didn’t know who Manuel was at first. When I found out I was upset. He is notorious. He killed a friend of mine. If I’d known who he was I would never have let him in my house or on my boat.’
Jasmine told police that Henry asked to see her that Wednesday evening but she was busy with her young twins so had to decline. The next night she and partner Andrew attended a party at the Sunset Roof Top Lounge, returning home to Grand Colony at 10.30pm.
Henry and his friend had been out fishing from 9am to 3pm. Then they hit the bars before returning to the hotel. Fisherman Panny said: ‘Henry liked his whisky. It’s all he drank.’
Meanwhile, Jasmine arranged to see her friend, despite the fact that both parties had already been drinking.
She asked Andrew if he wanted to join them as they were all friends but he was tired and told Jasmine to go ahead without him.
She took a bottle of wine and some miniature-sized bottles of whisky, arriving at Henry’s villa at 10.45pm. His friend Manuel was asleep.
Jasmine and Henry sat on the balcony of his villa and drank shots. Despite the island operating a 10pm Covid curfew, it is understood she suggested the pair head down to the pier at the nearby Banana Beach resort. Just before they left, Henry picked up his gun from the kitchen counter.
On the pier, they sat side by side, chatting and listening to music.
It is understood Jasmine told police: ‘I was to the right of him. At some point he said, ‘Let’s see if you’ve improved your gun skills.’ ‘
Jasmine admits she’d been slow when loading and unloading his gun during the car ride days before.
‘We’re sitting on the pier and I start loading and unloading his gun again,’ she is said to have told police.
‘The last time I did it, he took the bullets as I was unloading and placed them on the left side of him. I then put the gun, with the magazine clipped inside it, beside me to the right.’
Police would later find a pile of unspent bullets at the scene.
Jasmine explained that her friend then complained of a sore shoulder. Fisherman Panny told the MoS: ‘He was reeling in fish when we were together, so I’m not surprised he had a sore shoulder.’
Supt Jemmott asked her for a massage, prompting Jasmine to joke about him being spoiled. But she relented, and moved behind him to rub his shoulder.
After a while, Supt Jemmott suggested they return to the Grand Colony and asked Jasmine to hand him the magazine so he could reload the gun.
She is understood to have told police: ‘I picked up the gun and tried to eject the magazine clip but it was stuck.
‘I struggled with it, trying to get the magazine out, when the gun suddenly went off. I had no idea it still had a bullet in the chamber.’
Horrified and in ‘utter shock’, Jasmine recoiled. As the body fell back on to her, covering her with blood, she tried to extricate herself, only for Henry to fall into the water.
She became ‘hysterical’, according to several sources who spoke to the MoS.
Security guards from a nearby hotel raced to the scene to find her pacing up and down on the pier.
One person picked up the gun while Jasmine, in a state of shock, sat down on rocks before blood was swabbed from her arm.
Once at the police station, Panny, who also serves as the island’s Justice of the Peace, arrived to formally remand her in custody.
He told the MoS: ‘She was in shock. I was too. I couldn’t believe the friend I’d been fishing with a few hours before had been shot dead.
‘When I saw Jasmine, her eyes were glazed over. She didn’t know who I was.’
Later that day Panny used the same boat that he and Henry had been fishing in to take his friend’s body to the mainland for a post-mortem.
The examination revealed he died of a ‘massive haemorrhage to the brain caused by a single gunshot wound behind the right ear’.
Last night the devastation wrought by the event continued to reverberate. Jasmine remains in custody in Belize’s notorious central prison, denied bail, according to some, because of the controversy the case has stirred up. Her next bail hearing is on Wednesday.
Sources told the MoS the Ashcroft family has been left ‘devastated’ by the incident.
‘Lord Ashcroft has devoted his life to Belize and the Belizean people,’ one local said. ‘This is so sad for him and his family.’
In the scope of the whole tragedy it is the children people care most about.
Panny said: ‘My friend Henry has five kids. Two teenagers and then three young ones from his current partner. Jasmine has two kids. Whatever has happened, this is a tragedy for two families, for two sets of children. Here on Belize we are praying for everyone.’
No member of the Ashcroft family wished to comment.