Hours before a bombshell TV interview with cop killer Jasmine Hartin aired on Thursday night, a remarkable video emerged online.
It showed the gregarious 32-year-old blonde, wearing a black swimsuit and very short shorts, blasting watermelons on an idyllic Belize beach with a pump-action shotgun, then pretending to blow smoke from the barrel.
Separate new footage also showed her clambering onto a saddle suspended from a ceiling during a party.
Hours before a bombshell TV interview with cop killer Jasmine Hartin aired on Thursday night, a remarkable video emerged online
The timing hardly seemed coincidental. Miss Hartin’s interview with the local Belize station 7 News was intended to put forward her side of the story, and settle scores with her partner Andrew Ashcroft, son of the Tory billionaire Lord Ashcroft.
Miss Hartin has always claimed she had shot a respected Belizean police chief accidentally as they sat at the end of a jetty after a night of heavy drinking in late May.
Many may now feel the new ‘watermelon’ footage shows that she knows how to handle a gun.
It’s the latest twist in an extraordinary tale that has gripped this tiny Central American nation.
To many ordinary Belizeans, Jasmine Hartin was just another spoilt and wealthy expat who more than deserved to be in her predicament.
After all, she has not denied shooting dead her friend Superintendent Henry Jemmott just over a month ago. And when prosecutors charged her with only the relatively minor offence of manslaughter by negligence, many were outraged by what they saw as near-colonial-era corruption.
It showed the gregarious 32-year-old blonde, wearing a black swimsuit and very short shorts, blasting watermelons on an idyllic Belize beach with a pump-action shotgun, then pretending to blow smoke from the barrel
Yet following her TV appearance — and despite the watermelon footage — some may now have a sneaking sympathy for her.
For, as she emotionally relayed, ever since the police superintendent’s death she has been sucked into a downward spiral of events that she says have allegedly deprived her of her money, home and even her two young children.
Once she flitted between smart restaurants and glitzy parties. But of late she has been dividing her time between scorpion-infested prisons and cramped police cells.
And where home used to be a beachfront villa in the resort of San Pedro, where an army of staff attended to her every need, the Canadian — now on bail — reportedly shares a modest Airbnb with her mother on the less fashionable, landlocked side of the country.
During her jaw-dropping interview — which inevitably will have infuriated the Ashcroft family, who have decades-old ties to the former British colony — Miss Hartin accused Andrew, 42, of exploiting her incarceration and emotional state to persuade her to give up her stake in their business.
She claimed he had sent a letter to her via a friend on the night of May 31 — three days after her arrest — and provided a copy to 7 News that was shown on air.
Miss Hartin (right) accused Andrew, 42, (left) of exploiting her incarceration and emotional state to persuade her to give up her stake in their business
‘I was in the San Pedro police station after a magistrate had denied me bail,’ she explained.
‘I was clearly upset and stressed out, and Andrew had sent a letter with a mutual friend to meet me in the males’ bathroom at the front of the police station to sign a one-paragraph statement that says: “I, Jasmine Hartin, sign all shares in Kidd Estates Ltd, which is 10 per cent, to Andrew Ashcroft for the sum of $1 a share.” ’ She said she had signed the statement, but has not received any compensation.
Miss Hartin claimed she was told that if she didn’t sign, hotel giant Marriott would rescind its franchise agreement to let her and Andrew run their luxury boutique hotel, the Alaia.
This, she said, would mean ‘everything we’d worked for was going to be taken away’.
She went on: ‘All I thought was: “We built this for our kids, we’ve worked so hard to get this, so I’ll sign it over but I’m sure he’ll make sure I get it back.” But it wasn’t right to sign it at that time, under those pressures.’
A source who knows the couple told the Mail that Andrew and Jasmine split up some time ago — in part because of his refusal to marry her (although, under Belize common law, they are considered married) — but had stayed together for appearances’ sake.
Following her release on bail after Superintendent Jemmott’s death, Jasmine was re-arrested last week. She had stormed into the Alaia to confront Andrew over not being able to see their four-year-old twins. She allegedly assaulted a member of staff (she denies this) before posting footage of the incident on social media.
She revealed to 7 News that she’d had previous custody battles with Andrew, one in 2018. ‘It was a very, very bad time in our relationship.’
She took the children to Canada to visit family and stayed for two-and-a-half months, although their father ‘wasn’t denied visitation’ and came to see them.
She said she returned to Belize because she felt they ‘owed it to the children to make it work’.
Mr Ashcroft’s alleged refusal to let his former partner see their children is just one puzzling aspect of this saga.
For as Miss Hartin’s new Belizean lawyer, Richard ‘Dickie’ Bradley, stressed this week, under local law a single mother has sole custody of her children, with the father having visitation rights and a responsibility to pay maintenance.
It has been alleged that Miss Hartin has been threatened with losing her children, although that didn’t come up in the TV interview.
Becoming tearful, she went on: ‘Withholding a mother from her children when we have nothing on custody in writing — I don’t know of another situation where they’ve done this to a mother: taken the children and put up a blockade of security guards to keep you from them on your own property, and then try to put charges on you for trying to see your kids.’
She also claimed she’d been told by the Ashcroft family that they’d been ‘instructed to distance themselves from me and that ‘they couldn’t have bad Press associated with their reputation’. As a result, she says, she received no family visits during the 19 days she spent behind bars and didn’t speak to Andrew or their children at all.
Meanwhile, Andrew kept Hartin’s family ‘at bay’, thousands of miles away in Ontario, allegedly telling her mother, who was ‘worried sick’, that she was ‘fine’ and had visitors every day. ‘I wouldn’t say I was a wild party girl but I do have fun with my friends — I like to dance . . . I am a social person,’ Miss Hartin said.
As to rumours that she is a heavy cocaine user — she has been charged with possessing a small quantity when she was arrested on the jetty where she killed Mr Jemmott — she said: ‘I heard that, too, and that was a shock to me as well. People are always talking — it’s Belize.’
Following her release on bail after Superintendent Jemmott’s (pictured) death, Jasmine was re-arrested last week
On legal advice, Miss Hartin refused to say any more about how Henry Jemmott came to die. However, she addressed speculation — dismissed by insiders as highly unlikely — that there may have been a sexual element to their stroll to a deserted jetty to watch the stars and discuss guns in the early hours of May 29.
She said the policeman hadn’t told her he was having problems with Romit, his common-law wife and mother of three of his five children. ‘I saw he posted on Facebook that “I’m single” or something . . . and then he said he wanted to come to San Pedro to blow off some steam,’ said Miss Hartin. ‘I figured if he wanted to talk about [the break-up], he would. He didn’t.’
She has previously revealed that she felt grateful to him after he had rescued her from a party where she had been threatened by a man. Miss Hartin said she had let him have an apartment at the Grand Colony, the beachside resort she and Mr Ashcroft own and where the family home is.
Many Belizeans are angry that Miss Hartin’s woes are getting so much attention when a police officer died — even if accidentally — at her hands.
‘Is Jasmine Hartin a careless killer, is she a dispossessed mother or is she a party girl who just didn’t know when to stop?’ pondered her 7 News interviewer, covering all the bases.
Ms Hartin’s TV interview certainly leaves various riddles unanswered, and there could indeed be another side to this story. In fact, although the Ashcrofts have so far refused to comment, Andrew broke his silence yesterday to explain his treatment of his partner.
Family reputation: Tory donor Lord Ashcroft
In a statement he said: ‘At no time have I told Jasmine she cannot see her children.’
Mr Ashcroft said he had arranged to have the children flown over to spend several hours with her when she was first released on bail and living in a house 100 miles away that he had found for her.
‘I have explained to Jasmine that we have to agree on dates, times and places convenient to all of us where she can see the children,’ he said.
‘Instead, she insists on making unreasonable demands, showing up without prior notification and alerts the media to deliberately make a scene.’
He revealed that when Miss Hartin turned up at the Alaia hotel demanding to see the children, he was so determined to stop her that he put them in a boat and headed off shore.
A source close to the Ashcroft family say they reject her claims that they abandoned her. The insider said prosecutors had been determined to refuse bail after she initially claimed Mr Jemmott had been shot from a passing boat and was uncooperative with police.
Mr Ashcroft’s insistence that he decides when Miss Hartin can see her children was challenged last night.
Legal sources in Belize said the twins’ father could win custody of them only if he applied for a court order, and he has yet to do so.
However, Miss Hartin’s ability to get them back could be severely restricted because she is a foreigner, said a lawyer.
Andrew Ashcroft had arranged for a prominent lawyer, Godfrey Smith, to represent his former partner and paid her legal fees, which have amounted to $130,000 (U.S.). He not only arranged for her to stay in a comfortable house with armed security after she was given bail, but he chartered a helicopter and took the children to see her, said the source. Miss Hartin later abandoned the house without telling her guards.
Miss Hartin hired a new lawyer and found new accommodation after the confrontation with Andrew at their hotel. She had turned up with her mother, Candice, and chased him, shouting angrily and demanding to be allowed to see her children and collect her possessions from their home.
Ms Hartin and her lawyer say she is in fear for her life, although they haven’t specified who poses the threat. She says she had felt forced to dye her blonde hair brown and has refused to disclose exactly where she is living.
She arrives for her court-ordered daily check-in visits at the local police station in the Belize district of Cayo with a masked friend, who appears to be armed.
Others have decided to fight her beleaguered corner in a battle for public opinion that Andrew Ashcroft may not be winning.
Wendy Auxillou, a Belizean barrister and friend, stepped in to post Miss Hartin’s £21,500 bail when the hotel manager who had been the original guarantor decided to revoke it, prompting her rearrest and imprisonment — a move Jasmine blames on Andrew Ashcroft.
Miss Auxillou said Miss Hartin had been ‘thrown to the wolves’ by the Ashcrofts, who were ‘psychologically and emotionally’ abusing her.
‘Many of us women are victims to this. Rich, powerful men do things like this all the time,’ she said.
Miss Hartin’s lawyer, Richard Bradley, says his client is not being prosecuted but ‘persecuted’.
He says Belize police and prosecutors have gone out of their way to put her behind bars, and attacked the court’s decision to make her sign in each day at a police station 100 miles from where she is staying.
‘Once you start to mess with a mother and her love for her children, you’re begging for trouble, big time trouble,’ he said.
A story that was bizarre enough to begin with is getting odder by the day.