Posted: Tuesday, June 29, 2021. 4:53 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Jasmine Hartin, 32, accused of manslaughter by negligence and separately of common assault and drug possession, is a free woman after as many as nine women came forward to vouch for her using title to their various land properties.
The Ministry of Natural Resources has been kept busy doing valuation of the land in question, and whoever is successful must sign what is known as an encumbrance with the court, formally indicating that this is surety for Hartin until her case is over.
Attorney Richard “Dickie” Bradley told us in a telephone interview that due to the late hour on Friday it was difficult to get Hartin out of the Central Prison at Hattieville, where she was cooling her heels until she could replace the surety withdrawn by Frank Habet, general manager of Grand Colony Island Villas on Ambergris Caye, where there was, last week, a confrontation between Hartin and the father of her twin boy and girl, Andrew Ashcroft, and an alleged assault of an employee for which she was charged on Friday.
The assault and drug charges are ‘minor offenses’ or misdemeanors under law, and ordinarily would not attract objection to bail in court; but Bradley charges that in his client’s case, police and the Director of Public Prosecutions’ office sought to punish Hartin by effectively denying her further liberty, first by raising objection to bail in the San Pedro court, and then, when that was granted, bringing Habet to the Supreme Court without notice to Hartin and putting him on the stand to convince Justice Herbert Lord, presiding, to withdraw surety, while also making a challenge to revoke the $30,000 bail.
His client felt ambushed, Bradley told us but was saved by the court choosing not to interfere on the established bail while allowing withdrawal of Habet as surety. The conditions initially set – signing in daily in San Ignacio, staying out of trouble, not interfering with witnesses, etc. – still apply, and moreover, Hartin has no restriction on traveling within the country, merely traveling outside it, which the Supreme Court must agree to allow on the application for the duration of the proceedings.
“The judge should not have entertained Mr. Habet and should have said to him, ‘You should give the lady at least three days’ notice or a week’s notice,’ but we know this is a very big thing…I told the judge when the Crown Counsel said she was read charges in San Pedro and he should take away bail, I told her ‘No ‘tal! That da no how Supreme Court go; ih no work like that. You no turn up yah fi ambush people. They have to serve proper notice on me, who is the lady’s lawyer; she has a lawyer now. And I need notice and I need grounds and I need to see all kind of thing,” said Bradley, adding that it was simply a matter of substituting surety for bail.
Bradley also said he was ashamed of the actions of the Director of Public Prosecutions’ Office and Commissioner of Police Chester Williams, in the case of the latter for directing the court prosecutor to object to bail for an offense that, under Section 44 of the Criminal Code, does not even carry a specified penalty on conviction. The cocaine possession charge is for a minute amount, was laid after the initial charge and should not have affected the calculus of bail allowance.
It has been alleged that Hartin was threatened with the loss of her children. According to Bradley, she was made to sign over other assets under duress, leading to her outburst last week Thursday. Concerning the children and custody, Bradley cites the Families and Children Act, under which the children of a single mother are solely hers in terms of custody, with the father having a responsibility to maintenance and right to visitation.
“[My client] did that because she was desperate,” Bradley explained in reference to Hartin’s actions last week. “She is not on San Pedro, they put in that she has to sign in in San Ignacio Police Station. That is 100 miles from San Pedro – San Pedro is 36 miles from Belize City; and Belize City is 74 miles from Cayo – what [the expletive] is going on? She is 100 miles away from where her children are every day and she can’t see them. And they have the money to drive in – they can fly the little babies to Belmopan and run them up to see her. Once you start to mess with a mother and her love for her children, you’re begging for trouble, big time trouble,” he continued. (The children are dual Belizean-Canadian citizens, but fall under Belizean jurisdiction by the terms of the Families and Children Act.)
Nonetheless, he says Hartin’s life is in danger considering the forces allied against her and the determination of the Police and DPP to put her away, stooping even to, in Bradley’s words, “unethical and immoral” behavior in court.
Hartin’s next court date is scheduled for August; she hopes, presumably, to keep a low profile until then.
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