The sister of a Belizean police officer who died in mysterious circumstances while in the company of a wealthy American socialite has told DailyMail.com that her brother would never have taken his own life and had ‘a gunshot behind his ear like an assassination’.
The lifeless body of police chief Henry Jemmott, 42, was found floating off the coast of San Pedro on Friday morning with a single gunshot wound to the head. Prior to his death, Jemmott had been drinking with Jasmine Hartin – a 38-year-old US national who is the daughter-in-law of British billionaire and politician, Lord Michael Ashcroft.
Hartin is currently in being held for questioning at a local police station, as rumors about what happened on the fateful evening circulate across the island. Some theorize that Jemmott was accidentally or deliberately shot dead, while other say he could have killed himself.
However, Jemmott’s sister, Cherry Jemmott, 48, and Assistant Superintendent with Belize Police, told DailyMail.com: ‘My brother would never ever kill himself. He had his plans. In September he was to be promoted to Senior Superintendent and he was to be transferred to another unit. My brother is a very top cop with a big dream.’
She said the father-of-five – who has one boy, six, and four girls ages 9, 11, 12 and 14 – had been fishing with friends on the day of his death before calling their other sister to say he was tired and going to bed.
‘The news was saying that when he was shot it was only himself and Jasmine on the pier,’ she said. ‘His body was found in the water and his personal revolver was found on the pier. She was found with blood on her hand and blood on her feet.’
She added: ‘He had a gunshot behind his ear like an assassination. He is so skillful after 24 years [as an officer], he would never have left his guard down. He was a top cop. I don’t know how he let down his guard to be shot with his own gun.’
Cherry said a security guard heard a single shot.
Cherry said she believes her brother, whose nickname was King because he was his parents’ only son, and Hartin knew each other because she does business in San Pedro and he was the officer in charge of the area two to three years ago.
Henry Jemmott’s sister, Assistant Superintendent Cherry Jemmott, 48, are pictured together at a holiday party in 2019. She told DailyMail.com that her brother would never have taken her own life
American Jasmine Hartin, whose father-in-law is British billionaire businessman and politician Lord Ashcroft, was drinking with Jemmott before he died
Jasmine Hartin is pictured with her husband Andrew Ashcroft at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for their new resort on May 7
Jemmott’s body is seen being brought to shore on Friday morning after it was seen floating in the sea earlier that day
Henry Jemmott’s other sister, Marie, told 7 News Belize she similarly believes that her brother would ever end his own life.
‘My brother would never kill himself. My brother had a passion for life. He looked forward for his children, his five children, and his fiancee, and me and the other family members.’
She added: ‘I believe he was killed, the investigation can tell me otherwise but I believe he was killed. He was already in his room when we spoke. Why was he out there? I don’t know.’
Meanwhile, Henry Jemmott’s niece, Renisha Martinez, wrote on Facebook: ‘I know for a fact my uncle would never do a suicide. He was murdered and we need justice. That man loved his job so much that he wouldn’t even take days off!’
She added: ‘First and foremost my Uncle is a dedicated man when it comes to his job. He is a caring and supporting dad, uncle and friend. He loved being out and working hard. He believed that hard work came with alot of discipline.
‘My uncle was a great man in my eyes and anybody else who knows him would feel how I feel.’
Police are trying to understand how Henry Jemmott ended up dead, shot with his own police service weapon; a single bullet hole piercing the skin behind his right ear
Henry Jemmott’s niece, Renisha Martinez, wrote on Facebook: ‘I know for a fact my uncle would never do a suicide. He was murdered and we need justice. That man loved his job so much that he wouldn’t even take days off!’
Hartin and her husband, Andrew Ashcroft, share two children together. They spend much of their time in Belize, where they own a luxury hotel named Alaia. It only opened for business earlier this month.
According to Belize Police Commissioner Chester Williams, Hartin left the hotel late Thursday evening and walked a short distance down a beach to a small wooden jetty.
She met up with Jemmott, who was reported to be an old friend. Commissioner Williams confirmed the two were alone, drinking alcohol, and breaking the island’s 10pm to 5am Covid curfew.
‘They were both fully dressed,’ he told reporters. ‘They were known to each other. They were drinking for a couple of hours before the incident occurred.’
Hartin was in custody in a holding cell at the San Pedro police station jail which one local described as ‘hell on earth’.
He added: ‘She is a lady who is used to luxury. Whenever you see her she is always perfectly dressed, her children are always perfect. She is a nice lady, very polite and beautiful. I can’t imagine her in there. I have been inside that jail. The cell floors are made of dirt and the whole place smells of urine.’
Late on Thursday evening, Hartin left her luxury hotel, Alaia (pictured) and walked a short distance down a beach to a small wooden jetty to meet Jemmott
Police tape marks the area where the shooting took place on Friday morning
Last night, Jemmott’s family claimed that a post-mortem examination had ruled out an accident or suicide. The police could not be contacted for comment, but the results of the examination are due for release tomorrow. There is a possibility that Hartin will appear in court as early as tomorrow.
In the bars and coffee shops around downtown San Pedro, speculation about what had happened was rife.
‘I’ve heard lots of theories,’ one woman told Daily Mail. ‘That they were drinking and maybe she was playing around with his gun and it accidentally went off. Or maybe they were playing a game and she didn’t think it was loaded. I don’t think he killed himself because you wouldn’t shoot yourself behind your right ear.’
According to one source, a local security guard raced to the scene when he heard the gunshot and alerted police who arrived to find Hartin ‘deeply distressed and shaking’. The police commissioner confirmed Hartin had been found with blood on her hands, arms and clothing. Another unconfirmed report claimed she told the first officers on the scene the gunshot had come ‘from a passing boat’.
One source offered a potential explanation for Hartin being covered in blood. ‘After the gun went off, Jemmott fell on top of her and so she pushed him off and that’s how he ended up in the shallow water by the pier,’ he suggested.
‘His gun was found there on the pier. People have been speculating there was some sort of romantic relationship between them but I don’t believe that, the family doesn’t think that. I knew Henry [Jemmott], he was a big bear of a man, grossly overweight.
‘He’s a good guy and I know he was friends with several members of the Ashcroft family. He got to know them well when he was living here on the island. It’s a small island, we all know each other.’
According to one source, a local security guard raced to the scene when he heard the gunshot and alerted police who arrived to find Hartin ‘deeply distressed and shaking’
Hartin’s husband, Andrew Ashcroft, 43, has lived in Belize for over 20 years, he said. His father is Lord Ashcroft, a well-known British political donor and former deputy chairman of the British Conservative Party
Lord Ashcroft, 75, a former deputy chairman of the British Conservative Party and philanthropist, has invested heavily in Belize for decades and has dual Belizean and British citizenship.
Lord Ashcroft’s long-time lawyer, the nation’s former attorney general Godfrey Smith, was seen visiting the prison on Friday afternoon after flying in from mainland Belize. It is not known whether she will appoint her own criminal lawyer – and provide an explanation.
The shooting has stunned islanders who say the Ashcroft family has been part of the fabric of Belize – formally British Honduras – for generations.
Lord Ashcroft was raised there as a child and returned in the early 1980s, took Belizean citizenship and built up a series of hugely successful businesses including banks, telecommunications firms and tourism ventures.
‘Lord Ashcroft spent most of Covid here in Belize,’ said a source. ‘He only left a short while ago.
‘The Ashcrofts are integral to Belize. Many people are grateful to Lord Ashcroft for all the millions he has invested in this country.
‘He has created thousands of jobs but, like anywhere, there is also some resentment and a lot of politics going on.
‘He is embedded in the culture and has made a lot of money from his businesses here and some people aren’t happy about that.’
The Ashcroft’s latest venture – in partnership with hotel giant Marriott – is the gleaming new hotel Alaia, which was completed during lockdown and opened just three weeks ago.
The Ashcrofts are also building a condominium building on nearby land. ‘That hasn’t broken ground yet,’ said a source. ‘But Andrew remains committed to Belize. This is his home and it is where he is raising his kids.
‘He used to have a different accent but now he sounds like a local. He loves this island and he does everything to fit in. The new hotel has created 300 jobs for the island. We love him. This has all come as a terrible shock.’
Lord Ashcroft has business interests in Belize. Pictured: Lord Ashcroft and Lord Steinberg in the Robing Room of the House of Lords