Archive for November 25th, 2009

TJI told to quit as suit filed

| 25/11/2009 | 16 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government has issued a written notice to Tom Jones International Ltd of its intention to terminate the construction contracts for the John Gray and Clifton Hunter school projects, over what it states is a substantial breach of those contracts. Meanwhile, one of the main sub-contractors working on both of the sites has also filed a law suit against the general contractor, TJI, for over $2.2 million, plus interest and costs, after invoices remained unpaid in contravention of the terms of the sub-contract, the writ claims.

The government confirmed that an official seven day notice had gone to TJI on Wednesday, 25 November, as it was forced to protect its interests and to mitigate the costs and schedule damages associated with the substantial breaches of the contract by Tom Jones International Ltd. Sources close to the situation told CNS that the termination notice was based on a number of issues, including TJI’s abandonment of the project and its failure to pay sub-contractors.

Attorneys for Caribbean Mechanical Limited, part of the Andro Group owned by Allen Roffey and one of the sub-contractors that says they have not been paid, filed the writ of summons in the Cayman Islands Grand Court on Tuesday, 24 November.

The plaintiff says that TJI has failed to pay the progress payment of $1,081,966.55 for work undertaken in September at the Clifton Hunter site and a sum of $1,161,256.29 for work at the John Gray site, despite the due date being passed and the contractor having received its payment from government.

In the statement of claim, Caribbean Mechanical explains that it entered into two sub-contracts with TJI, one on 1 May and one on 7 May 2008, to carry out mechanical, electrical, plumbing and building services at the John Gray and Clifton Hunter school project sites.

The plaintiff states that, according to the contracts, progress payments are to be made every month following the submission for payment by the sub-contractor and once the architect’s certificates are issued.  The legal document states that, although the September applications for payment were submitted on time, the architect had signed off and that government had paid the general contractor, TJI has not paid Caribbean Mechanical before the due date agreed.

The document also notes that, under the contracts which Caribbean Mechanical has with the general contractor, even if the Cayman Islands Government had not paid TJI, the general contractor would still be liable to pay the sub-contractor.

A spokesperson for TJI said that all matters are being disputed and will be vigorously defended by the general contractor. 

Caribbean Mechanical was forced to lay-off around one hundred workers earlier this month when the ongoing dispute between government and TJI caused the contractor to down tools and stop work at both school development sites for the second time in the last few months. TJI claimed some $15 million in disputed change orders and publically stated it did not believe government could afford to build the schools. The company asked for a significant advanced sum and a form of financial surety or bond before it would return to work. Recent meetings with government have failed to bridge the impasse and government moved to terminate the contractors based on both an abandonment of the project and failure to pay sub-contractors with a seven day notice.    

Since then literally hundreds of workers on the sites have been laid off by the sub-contractors on the sites and by TJI themselves.

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Pocketknife stabbing at JGHS

| 25/11/2009 | 57 Comments

(CNS): Update Wednesday 8:00pm — A stabbing incident at the John Gray High School this morning (Wednesday, 25 November) has been described an “altercation” between two female students, who have both been suspended from school pending an investigation. One girl received medical attention immediately at the school for two non-life threatening lacerations to her chest, apparently with a pocketknife. She was taken promptly to the George Town Hospital and, was due to be released this afternoon. (Photo courtesy News27)

According to the Education Ministry, the student alleged to have caused the injuries in this case was also involved in a previous incident during the last school year that resulted in another student being injured with a pen. The student was reintegrated into the school following disciplinary action and supportive intervention, according to release from the ministry. An RCIPS spokesperson told CNS the 911 Emergency Services received a call at 10:10am reporting the stabbing. The female suspect was taken into custody at the West Bay Police Station.

The ministry reported that a member of staff was in the process of interviewing one of the students when the other arrived and a confrontation ensued. This confrontation resulted in one student allegedly injuring the other with a pocketknife which had been hidden on her person. A teacher received a superficial injury when she and a security guard intervened, thereby preventing the incident from escalating.

The RCIPS responded to a call from the school within minutes and the incident is presently under police investigation, the ministry said. The school has instigated its standard response to serious incidents of this nature. The parents of the students involved were immediately notified and have been assisting in the case. The two students will be excluded from the school pending full investigation and a multi-disciplinary assessment will be undertaken and an intervention response decided. The students and staff of the school will be fully briefed in the morning and counseling will be made available.

Education Minister Rolston Anglin, Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues and Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler visited the school this afternoon and have been fully briefed on the incident. Wahler noted that since September 2009, John Gray High School has initiated procedural changes which have significantly reduced the number of disciplinary incidents and the number of suspensions at the school. This was the first violent incident involvinga student bringing a weapon into the school compound this school year. It is recognized that this is a serious incident, but it appears at this time that it involves a personal dispute between the two students and pertains to matters arising out of school, the release said.

Any parents of students within John Gray High School with any questions should contact the Principal’s Office at 938-8571.


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PAC issues summons to Joey

| 25/11/2009 | 21 Comments

(CNS):  Following his failure to turn up to the Public Accounts Committee hearing today, Joey Ebanks, the former MD of the Turtle Farm, has been issued with a formal and legally binding summons for him to appear on 3 December. Ebanks was scheduled to appear as a witness on Wednesday morning, 25 November, to give evidence to PAC as it examined the auditor general’s report  "Loans and Expenditures of Funds at Boatswain’s Beach". The report revealed the details of so-called salary advances or loans, as well as turtle meat bought on credit and bar tabs ran up by Ebanks during his tenure as the boss at the facility that amounted to over $50,000.

At the opening of the meeting, which was held in public at the Legislative Assembly, PAC Chair Ezzard Miller told the committee that the Serjeant-at-Arms had been told that Joseph Ebanks, who was scheduled to be the first witness would not be attending. The members expressed their disappointment and observed that Ebanks had declared his intention publically on a number of occasions to attend to answer the report’s findings.

Auditor General Dan Duguay noted that Ebanks had said he did not feel he would get a fair hearing by submitting an answer in writing to the AG for the report and had wanted to defend himself at PAC. “We gave him several opportunities to respond to the report and he always said he would, but he never did and later said he would not have had a fair shot,” Duguay said, adding that his office had even delayed publication of the report to offer him time to comment.  Duguay explained that whatever Ebanks would have submitted in writing would have been included in the report as his response.

Following his failure to show, PAC called Joel Walton, the former chair of the Boatswain’s Beach board, who said he felt Duguay’s report was accurate. The next witness was the farm’s Chief Financial Officerwho said he had signed off on some of the checks which were issued to Ebanks as advances. During the questioning of those two witnesses it was revealed that Ebanks had been signing off on his own salary advances (or loans) with the second signature on cheques coming from different members of the management team. It was also revealed that Ebanks had eventually paid the entire sum back in cash without any explanation of where the more than $50,000 in notes had come from.

As a result of the various questions that arose once the committee began examining witnesses, they agreed to issue the formal summons to Ebanks.

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Britain`s air travel tax: a disaster for the Caribbean

| 25/11/2009 | 17 Comments

(CaribWorldNews): Britannia may no longer rule the waves but its imposition of the November 1 Air Passenger Duty tax has sent shock waves across the Atlantic that will wash up on Caribbean shores with a devastating effect on the region’s tourism industry. In spite of massive lobbying from home and abroad and objections from airlines, tour operators and tourism organizations including the Caribbean Tourism Organization, the British government went ahead with its plan to impose the allegedly `green` and controversial Airport Passenger Duty aimed at taxing aviation`s `carbon emissions.`

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Jesus ‘may have visited UK’

| 25/11/2009 | 1 Comment

(The Independent): A new film suggests that Jesus may have come to Britain, as described in the hymn Jerusalem, its director said today. The documentary, And Did Those Feet, explores the story behind the legend which survives in the hymn, for which William Blake wrote the words. The legend claims Jesus visited several places in the West Country, such as the Roseland peninsula and Glastonbury, with his uncle, Joseph of Arimathaea. In the film, Scottish researcher Dr Gordon Strachan said it is plausible Jesus may have visited Britain to further his learning.

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Dirt can be good for children, say scientists

| 25/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): Children should be allowed to get dirty, according to scientists who have found being too clean can impair the skin’s ability to heal. Normal bacteria living on the skin trigger a pathway that helps prevent inflammation when we get hurt, the US team discovered. The bugs dampen down overactive immune responses that can cause cuts and grazes to swell, they say. Their work is published in the online edition of Nature Medicine. Experts said the findings provided an explanation for the "hygiene hypothesis", which holds that exposure to germs during early childhood primes the body against allergies.

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Bush & Scotland plan India trip to meet Shetty

| 25/11/2009 | 38 Comments

(CNS): The minister of health has finally made an official statement regarding the proposed development by world famous heart surgeon Dr Devi Shetty to build a 2,000 bed hospital in the Cayman Islands. Mark Scotland said that government is supporting the project but it is a completely private initiative and it has not offered land to the Narayana Hrudaylaya Group. However, the minister confirmed that he and Premier McKeeva Bush have been invited to meet Dr Shetty in India, and officials were currently working on travel arrangements to make it possible.

“We have been in discussions with this group, but we have not offered them land or any other form of partnership,” Scotland said, adding that government welcomed the investment as it will generate much-needed long-term economic activity outside Cayman’s traditional revenue streams of tourism and financial services. “This endeavour will help to create a more diverse economy that is better insulated from economic downturns. It will also promote medical tourism in our Islands.”

Following news reports that Cayman officials willbe in Bangalore this December, the health minister also verified that he and the premier have been invited to meet Dr Shetty there.  “We are waiting to confirm possible arrangements based on the premier’s travel plans,” he said.

Dr Shetty reportedly visited the Cayman Islands recently and told Cabinet about his plans for the mega medical facility or health clinic, and a memorandum of understanding has been given to  government, but despite reports in The Wall Street Journal and the Times of India, it has not yet been signed.

The project, which could cost as much as $1 billion, will be entirely privately funded and will target North American patients looking for high quality, low cost medical health care. The local project director is Gene Thompson, who says the project is still in its infancy.

See footage of Dr Shetty on News 27

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Murder scene nightclub changes hands

| 25/11/2009 | 16 Comments

(CNS): The nightclub where Carlo Webster was murdered in front of over 150 clubbers in September of this year has been sold. According to a report on News 27, Joe Dephillippo has confirmed that his company, JD Enterprises Limited, has purchased the Next Level Nightclub. The club will now be known as Jet Nightclub and will re-open in mid-December, when the new boss says there will be an emphasis on safety for both customers and staff. 35-year-old Webster was shot in the head by an unknown assassin inside the nightclub on 10 September, and despite the huge number of people who were in the club at the time, no one has been charged with the murder.


Police say that even though there were more than 150 people present when Webster was shot no witnesses have come forward to identify the shooter. Police Commissioner David Baines recently stated that Webster was the victim of a string of tit for tat gang murders that police believe started as a result of a dispute overa girl.

The first victim was 28-year-old Omar Samuels, who died following a gun shot wound to his leg,which severed his femoral artery, at a shooting in McField Lane, George Town, in July. Three men have since been charged with his murder. A matter of days later, 20 year old Marcus Ebanks was gunned down by masked men, who opened fire in the early evening on a street in West Bay. Two other teenagers were also shot at the same time, including 14 year old Adrian Powell, who is now paralyzed as a result of his injuries. No one has been charged in connection with this crime.

Following Webster’s death in Next Level Night Club in September, Fabian Reid was shot and killed by unidentified masked gunmen in October as he was driving a car in the Newlands area of Bodden Town. A female passenger was also shot in the leg at the time of the shooting. Again no arrest or charges have been made in connection with the crime. Reid was the 7th person to be murdered in the Cayman Islands in 2009 and so far police have only brought charges in three of the cases.

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Martin rejects jury for judge alone trial

| 25/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Justice Charles Quin will now be the sole person who will weigh the evidence in the case against Randy Martin, the man charged with murdering Sabrina Schirn in March of this year, following the HMP Northward inmate’s  last minute request for a judge alone trial. As proceedings began in the murder trial on Tuesday morning in the Cayman Islands Grand Court, Martin’s defence team filed a verbal submission  to the judge to allow their client to forego his right to a jury as he did not believe he would receive a fair trial.

Adam King, of Samson McGrath and junior council for the defence, told the judge that, given the notoriety of the case coupled with rumours which had come to his client’s attention, Martin’s, who has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, was requesting the last minute change.

Although the defence is generally expected to notify the court of its decision to be tried by a jury or a judge three weeks before the start of the trial, the law allows for extenuating circumstances. King put the case that his client had become increasingly anxious about how fair a jury trial would be for him as he believed most Caymanians would be very familiar with the case or those involved in it. He also explained that, following increasing rumours that had come to him in the last few weeks about how a jury may decide in the case and then getting sight of the jury pool on the morning of the trial, he said his client had become certain that he would not get a fair hearing.

King noted that, while it was something of a surprise to the court, no one really suffered as a result of the decision being late.

Solicitor General Cheryl Richards, who is prosecuting the case with Kirsty-Ann Gunn, said that although the application was late, provided counsel justified their reasons to the judge under the relevant law, the prosecution would not object. Richards said that the prosecution would not wish to stand in the way of a defendant not feeling he would get a fair trial.

After a brief discussion Justice Quin agreed to the last minute switch and sent word to have the jury dismissed. Following the submission, Martin’s lead counsel, David Howard Evans QC from the UK, asked for an adjournment so he could review late evidence that had recently been submitted by the prosecution.

The case was adjourned to 2:30 on Wednesday afternoon, when the crown will open its case against Martin, who is currently serving a seven year sentence at Northward. The trial is scheduled for over three weeks and the prosecution has more than 60 witnesses on its list.

The body of 21-year old Schirn was discovered in the High Rock area of East End in bush land,  some five days after she was reported missing, by her friends and family on the 17 March. A local farmer had discovered the car she had last been seen driving a few days before about a mile or so away from where the body was eventually found.  The case caused considerable controversy in the local community, not only because of the brutal nature of the crime but the police were also criticised for the way the investigation into Schirn’s disappearance was handled. The prison service also came under fire when it became clear Schirn’s body was found very close to the prison agricultural facility, Wilderness Farm.

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