THE daughter-in-law of British billionaire Lord Ashcroft only confessed to accidentally shooting dead a police officer in Belize after being threatened with cocaine charges, local reports say.
Socialite Jasmine Hartin, 38, is facing manslaughter by negligence charges after the body of Henry Jemmott was found floating in the sea near San Pedro on Friday.
She was denied bail on Monday and has spent the last four days cramped in a tiny concrete cell inside the magistrate's court complex in San Pedro.
Hartin was initially uncooperative with investigators after her arrest, however, she started talking after officers threatened to charge her with cocaine possession, 7 News Belize reported.
Police sources claim the mother-of-two was found to have 0.4 grams of the drug on her person, which is punishable by up to two years in prison and carries a maximum fine of $36,000.
The Canadian-born socialite, who runs a luxury hotel in Belize with her partner Andrew Ashcroft, provided cops a "statement under caution", Commissioner of Police Chester Williams said.
According to local reports, Hartin said she had been giving the cop, 42-year-old Henry Jemmott, a massage while they were drinking together on the pier.
She said Jemmott, who had reportedly complained of pain in his shoulder, placed his service pistol on the ground beside him while she carried out the massage.
Afterward, she claims he then asked her to hand him his gun back to him.
Hartin claimed the gun – a Glock – accidentally fired when she picked it up, striking Jemmott once in the head.
He fell on her, police have said, and as she panicked trying to get him off his body fell into the water where it was later found by someone on a passing boat.
Hartin was reportedly "hysterical" when she was found at the scene of the shooting.
Police in Belize said that a single gunshot was heard – and officers then found the woman on the pier with "blood on her arms and her clothing."
She was later arraigned on charges of negligent manslaughter on Monday.
Williams told local media there is no evidence to support a murder charge but declined to comment on the possibility of an accidental discharge of a pistol.
"I'm not going to comment on that at this time," he said. "We are going to give Mr. Jemoth the best funeral we possibly can."
Charges of manslaughter by negligence carry a maximum sentence of five years in jail in Belize.
However, Hartin may escape jail time by simply paying a fine of $20,000 Belizean dollars – or $10,000 USD – reports the Daily Mail.
In her statement to police, Hartin claims she invited Jemmott to her apartment where the pair drank alcohol and discussed her private security.
She told cops the pair then walked a short distance to the wooden pier by the Mata Rocks hotel where the shooting later unfolded.
Friends and family of the victim have insisted there was no romantic relationship between Hartin and Jemmott, saying the cop was good friends with the whole Ashcroft family.
However, Jemmott's family has raised doubt over Hartin's version of events, with one of his sisters saying he "had a gunshot behind his ear like an assassination."
“He was a top cop. I don’t know how he let down his guard to be shot with his own gun,” she told the Mail.
Sources have claimed to 7 News Belize that Jemmott's Glock had a trigger safety mechanism which made it "impossible" for it to be fired accidentally.
Police sources also told the Times of London that investigators are probing whether Hartin was playing a drinking game with Jemmott when he was shot dead.
Hartin, a mom of two, is currently being detained in a San Pedro jail.
She is being represented by Attorney General Godfrey Smith, one of Central America's top lawyers.
Her partner Andrew, who is described as her husband on the website of their hotel, is the youngest of Lord Ashcroft's three children from his first marriage and is a citizen of Belize.
Family members said that Jemmott was a father of five and that he was heading for a promotion to senior superintendent with Belize Police.
Lord Ashcroft, who lives in Belize but remains active in British politics, has not yet commented on the incident.
He is a former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, having served between 2005 and 2010.
Lord Ashcroft sat on the benches of the House of Lords as a life peer until 2015.
He is also a philanthropist, author and pollster.
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