Billionaire Tory donor's daughter-in-law charged with shooting police officer dead, could escape with a fine

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LONDON (Bywire News) - The daughter-in-law of a billionaire Conservative Party donor charged with shooting dead a police officer in Belize could be let off with a fine.

On Friday, following reports of a single gunshot, police found the body of Police Superintendent Henry Jemmott floating in the water next to a pier in San Pedro

According to witnesses, Jemmott had been seen drinking with former estate agent Jasmine Hartin - whose father in law in the former Tory Deputy Chairman, and a politically-connected figure in Belize, Lord Ashcroft.

According to Police Commissioner Chester Williams, Hartin's conduct raised red flags after she refused to give a statement about the officer's death without the presence of her lawyer.

In the absence of a credible explanation, he said, Hartin had to be treated as a killer.

“From what we know is that they are friends,” said Williams. “From what we have been made to understand they were drinking. From investigation, they were alone on the pier and yes they were both fully clothed".

However, when Hartin did finally give a statement, it raised as many questions as it answered.

She claimed the pair had been drinking in her apartment discussing her personal security, before going for a walk to the pier alongside the Mata Rocks Hotel.

According to her statement, she then offered Jemmott a shoulder massage to ease some pain he was suffering.

The officer then placed his police-issued Glock revolver on the dock, but when she picked the loaded weapon up to hand it back to him, Hartin claims she accidentally fired it.

After he was shot, Jemmott reportedly landed on top of Hartin, but fell into the water when she pushed him off.

Following reports of a gunshot fom witnesses, police found Harnet covered in blood and in what Williams described as ‘an emotional state’.

Hartin - whose lawyer is Godfrey Smith, Belize’s former Attorney General - has now been charged with manslaughter by negligence, and denied bail.

Jemmott, 42, was a father of five and a popular figure in the area - known locally as ‘the King’.

His sister, Marie, has since claimed that a post mortem investigation suggested the killing was a homicide.

Speaking to media she said her brother ‘loved life’, and that they knew nothing other than that he was in the presence of a woman they did not know.

“The situation is such that it does require an explanation from her”, Williams said. “In the absence of an explanation, then she would have to be treated as the killer and we will proceed accordingly”.

Hartin's father-in-law is Lord Michael Ashcroft, a billionaire Tory donor and a politically-connected figure in Belize - the Central American nation where he previously claimed residence for tax purposes.

Lord Ashcroft also holds Belize citizenship, and once represented the country at the United Nations.

Under to Belize law, the maximum penalty for manslaughter by negligence is 5 years - but this sentence is rarely implemented, and, if convicted, Hartin could escape with a fine of around £7,000.

[Writing by Tom Cropper, editing by Tom D. Rogers.]

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