Archive for August 10th, 2010

Conviction sticks over drugs found on beach

| 10/08/2010 | 1 Comment

(CNS): A North Side man who was sentenced to 12 years in prison after he was convicted of cocaine possession with intent to supply, which he found washed up on the beach, has had his appeal rejected. Garvin Bush appeared before the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal (CICA) on Monday morning without an attorney stating that he believed his sentence was too harsh. Bush claimed that he should not have been convicted of intent to supply as the drugs, which included over ten grams of crack and almost six ounces of powder cocaine, were for his own personal use only. Originally tried in summary court Bush had already had an appeal heard and turned down in the grand court before he came before the court of appeal this week.

During his appeal to the CICA, the court explained to Bush that his appeal had to be based on a point of law in the ruling of Justice Cooke the judge who presided over Bush’s Grand Court Appeal and not on the facts of the original trial.
However, Bush continued to proclaim his innocence regarding the original summary court trial and the conviction of intent to supply insisting that he found the drugs and that he was using them himself as he admitted he had a serious addiction. “I was addicted to the drugs but I was using it not selling it,” he said. “I agree it was a big amount but all I was doing was harming myself.”
The appellant claimed that during his appeal in the Grand Court he was unrepresented and as he was not a lawyer he had not been given the proper opportunity to present his case. “I was abandoned from all help and I don’t have too much experience with the law,” Bush told the appeal court judges.
However, the CICA had to point out on a number of occasions that Bush needed to make it clear on what point of law he was now making his appeal given that one appeal had already been heard and refused. The CICA chair Sir John Chadwick explained to Bush that the only thing the appeal court could now consider was an appeal based on a mistake in law made by Mr Justice Cooke.
Following Bush’s protestations of innocence the three appeal court judges considered thematter before announcing that the appeal was dismissed and they would place their reasons in writing in due course.
Bush was handed down his 12 year sentence in June 2008 by Magistrate Margaret Ramsay–Hale who accepted that Bush found the cocaine as he said but concluded that he was not only using the drugs but was also determined to make a profit from them.
Police had found rocks of individually wrapped crack cocaine at his North Side home and portions of powder in separate plastic bags. The magistrate said in her verdict at the summary court trail that as he wrapped the rocks in foil they were unlikely to be for his own use. Bush had pleaded guilty to possession in January 2006 but had always denied that he was selling the drug.
Throughout his time in the court system Bush has had a number of issues with attorneys provided to him on legal aid certificates. At least four attorneys had appeared for him at various times with each eventually asking to come off record leaving him unrepresented at both his grand court appeal and at his most recent appearance in the court of appeal.

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UK courts under threat in £1bn Justice budget cuts

| 10/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(The Daily Mail): Frontline legal services could be axed following massive cuts in Ministry of Justice funding outlined in a secret Government memo. The document, by the MoJ’s finance department, reveals it will slash £102million from the Court Service budget over the next three years. The memo also details a £193million cut in legal aid and a £39million drop in the Tribunals Service budget by 2011 following this year’s Comprehensive Spending Review. Critics warn the move would inevitably hit public access to justice and could create delays in criminal prosecutions and a wide range of civil disputes. And sources claim MoJ officials are already discussing where the cuts will fall. It is understood that up to 150 courts and tribunals, in five regions, could be forced to merge or close. Gary Slapper, professor of law at the Open University, said: "This will significantly compromise people’s ability to receive justice."

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Volunteers say people leaving should take their pets

| 10/08/2010 | 56 Comments

(CNS): Following recent reports from the Humane Society that it is inundated with unwanted pets as a result of so many expatriate workers leaving the Cayman Islands, one group of local volunteers says that people who are leaving can take their pets with them and don’t need to leave them behind. As the animal shelter is now at capacity, the Humane Society has said it is finding it very difficult to take on any more animals. Lesley Agostinelli, a volunteer with Cayman Animal Rescue Enthusiasts, says it is not that difficult for people to take their animals with them when they leave. “We have the advantage here in Cayman of good veterinary support, so it is possible to arrange pet transport and to have animals micro-chipped so they can travel,” she said.

“We know of many people who have taken their local ‘rescue’ animals with them when they moved first to one country and then another, and the animals seems none the worse for the travel,” the animal volunteer stated. Agostinelli said that she and her fellow volunteers at CARE are hoping to persuade more people that it is not impossible to take their animals with them. “What we find strange is the decision to adopt one or more animals, give them a good life for a while and then shrug them off on departure,” she says adding that it is not necessary.
“Anyone not born here in Cayman has to presume that at some point they may be required to leave the Islands, whether planned or unplanned, for short or long term.  As such, if you are considering adopting a pet, they must also be part of an evacuation or re-location strategy.  It is simply not acceptable to consider that you are "doing the island a favour by adopting an animal" and giving it a good life while you have it,” she said.
Agostinelli pointed out that the notion that a short period of “a better life” for a pet and then being abandoned by its carers is not necessarily any kinder than leaving that abandoned animal to fend for itself in the first place. She said that pets are part of the family and wants to see more people making arrangements to take their adopted Cayman cats and dogs with them if they leave the islands.
According to the Cayman Animal Hospital, owners wanting to take pets to the UK will need to get their animals micro-chipped with an ISO chip. They will need two vaccines against rabies given 30 days apart, which are available at the Department of Agriculture. A minimum of 21 days later the pet needs to take the rabies Titer blood test at a vet’s office. It takes 14-21 days to get the results back.
If your pet passes the Titer test, it will be eligible to enter the UK under the pets travel scheme six months from the date the blood was taken. If pets are flown into the UK before the 6 month period has elapsed it will remain in quarantine until the full time period has passed. Travel to the UK requires a health certificate to be issued no more than 48 hours and no less than 24 hours prior to departure for England. The animal hospital also has information on take pets to other parts of Europe and North America.
“Owners have to be responsible. Cats and dogs live for an average of 15 years or more so that’s the length of commitment one should be prepared to give," Agostinelli said, adding that she hoped more people would begin to investigate the idea of exporting pets rather than leaving them with friends who don’t really want them, taking them to the Humane Society or, worse still, simply abandoning them when they leave.
People returning to Canada or the US with pets do not need to have them microchipped or have a rabies vaccination prior to their leaving the island.

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Diving therapy group visit Grand Cayman

| 10/08/2010 | 3 Comments

(The Scotsman): Last week a group of three British soldiers, two of them amputees, joined four US marines similarly wounded for an extraordinary diving trip in Grand Cayman, spearheaded by a Scottish diver who has experienced at first hand the despair of the newly disabled. Fraser Bathgate, the pioneer of Deptherapy, as the rehabilitation programme is called, explains: "It is impossible to imagine the emotion of being with these wounded soldiers when they experience for the first time the freedom of being in warm, clear waters and the stunning underwater marine world. I have seen men who were shadows of their former selves become alive again." It is a journey Bathgate was forced to embark upon aged 23 when he slipped off a training wall in London while preparing for a Himalayan climbing expedition.

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Law to introduce charity fee

| 10/08/2010 | 41 Comments

(CNS): A government bill to regulate charities in the Cayman Islands, which is expected to come before the Legislative Assembly next month, will require fees to be paid by local organisations that want to be registered. Once the bill is in effect no charitable body or non-governmental organisation will be able to fund-raise legally unless they are registered and have met the conditions set out in the new law. Although the draft bill does not say how much charities will have to pay to be on the country’s official register, clause 14, which provides for the regulations to facilitate registration states that the regulations may provide, “for the application and other fees to be paid on registration.” All charities will have six months to register once the bill is past in order to be given official charity status.

The law gives no indication if the registration fee will be a nominal amount, if it will be a one off payment or an annual sum, but the law does make it clear that, once enacted, no organisation, unless exempt by the registrar, can claim to be a charity and raise money locally without being registered.
The new law will, according to clause 30 of the draft, also exempt charities from the Gambling Law, facilitating their ability to sell raffle tickets for draws and other prize winning games.
Aside from creating a register of all charities operating in the Cayman Islands and methods by which their accounts and actions can be monitored, the law also provides for a registrar whose role will be to promote public trust and confidence in the charitable sector. The appointed person will also decide which charities will be registered, monitor their activities and compliance, as well as provide an annual report to government on the local charities sector and the activities of those charities registered under the law.
At present there are no laws regulating the establishment and activities of charities and people can fund raise for causes at will. In future, however, all organisations, from well known charities such as the Humane Society to lesser known specific local groups and church organisations, will all be required to register if they intend to take money from the wider public.
Charities registered under the law will be expected to provide accounts, follow financial laws and reveal their sources of income. Charities will be expected to spell out their purpose and the registrar will monitor the organisations to ensure they are doing what they say they will and spending money collected for the betterment of society. The registrar will be able to refuse and remove charities and the wider public will also be able to object to the registration of charities.
The law will make it an offence for anyone to solicit on behalf of charity that is not registered and the attorney general will be able to investigate any charitable organisation that is suspected of committing an offence.
Registered charities will be required to state their RCO number on fund raising materials from brochures to badges and will not be allowed to pester people into donating. Once the law is passed the public will be able to examine the records and accounts of charities and see exactly where funds are going.
The law provides for some charitable organisations to be exempt if they are regulated by another law or are a government entity. It also provides for exemptions for organisations raising funds for a short term project or specific event at the discretion of the registrar.
The law had been set down to come before members of the Legislative Assembly last month but it was withdrawn from the order paper as government said there were changes still to be made to the draft bill before it would be presented and debated.

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Profits fall for Cayman’s private water company

| 10/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A combination of factors have led to a fall in earnings in the second quarter 2010 for Consolidated Water Co. Ltd. Announcing its results on Monday the firm said the 18% decline in revenue for the three months ended June 30, 2010 was due to problems in all three of the Company’s business segments and because of more than a half million dollars of damages as a result of the Company’s inability to complete the refurbishment and commissioning of the Red Gate plant by its contract deadline. Retail water revenues declined 3% due to inflation and a 5% decline in gallons. Bulk water revenues decreased 4%.

The firm said that the decline in gross profits in the services segment reflected lower revenues due to a reduction in construction activity and liquidated damages of$260,000 assessed by the Water Authority Cayman as a result of the problems ad Red Gate caused by the failure of a key component.
"Our disappointing second quarter was substantially impacted by a decline in new project activity compared to last year and by additional costs and liquidated damages resulting from the delayed commissioning of the Red Gate plant for Water Authority Cayman," stated Rick McTaggart, Chief Executive Officer of Consolidated Water Co. Ltd.
 "Red Gate was a challenging project because it was a refurbishment of a 22 year old plant and we priced our proposal accordingly. Unfortunately we were delayed due to a variety of factors, including the failure of a key plant component that was purchased from a third party and this increased our costs beyond the level we had expected in the first quarter.
“Higher professional fees related to the project development activities of our newly formed consolidated Mexico joint venture increased our general and administrative costs during the quarter and we expect this trend to continue as we continue to commit resources in the pursuit of this project into next year," he added.
However McTaggart said a speculative project in Mexico in the early stages of its development, offers promise of future success due to a growing need for a new potable water supply for the areas of Baja California in Mexico and Southern California in the United States.
“In the most recent quarter, we incurred approximately $504,000 in general and administrative expenses, primarily consisting of organizational costs and legal and other professional fees, related to the Mexico joint venture,” the CEO stated.
"While we continue to pursue opportunities in the Caribbean market, competition for new projects in this region has increased with the entrance of several new players which has significantly compressed profit margins on projects, so we are developing businesses with strategic partners in other places where we believe we can successfully employ our business model and our significant experience operating seawater desalination plants in challenging environments. The Mexican project is but one example of the opportunities that we believe exist for us outside the Caribbean."
Despite a significant decline in second quarter earnings, McTaggart said performance of the retail and bulk segments was consistent with expectations given the inflation related rate adjustments that were implemented in January. "Net cash provided from operating activities was approximately $3.4 million in the most recent quarter, and our $45.4 million in cash balances as of June 30, 2010 were approximately $1.0 million higher than at the end of last year. We ended the second quarter with over $52.3 million in working capital, a healthy current ratio of 6.8-to-1.0, approximately $126.3 million in stockholders’ equity, and only $20.5 million in outstanding debt.
"As a result of our strong cash position, we have elected to prepay $1.5 million of our Bahamian bonds payable at the end of next month. Our healthy balance sheet will enable us to pursue future growth opportunities in the Caribbean and around the world,” he added.
For the six months ended June 30, 2010, total revenues declined 13% to approximately $27.4 million, compared with approximately $31.3 million in the first half of 2009. Retail water revenues declined 3% to approximately $12.4 million in the first half of 2010, versus approximately $12.8 million in the prior-year period. Bulk water revenues decreased 3% to approximately $12.5 million, compared with $12.8 million in the year-earlier period. Services revenues decreased 56% to approximately $2.5 million, compared with approximately $5.7 million for the six months ended June 30, 2009.
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Realtors want almost $60m for South Sound house

| 10/08/2010 | 48 Comments
(CNS): The Cayman Islands office of Sotheby’s real estate agents is looking for $59.5 million for a single home on the beach at South Sound. Castillo Caribe is being described as one of the finest beachfront estate homes in the world offering endless luxury. The realtors are also using the government’s recent move to encourage the rich to make Cayman their home as one of the property’s selling points. Sotheby’s says that Cayman’s tax neutral environment makes it “very appealing to people of high net worth to seek residency here – a position which is actively encouraged by the local government.”

 The 48,000 square feet property on South Sound has its own helipad as well as a wine Cellar/Grotto and an outdoor Kitchen. The list includes a pool, gym, tennis courts, four car garage, media room and the other usual requirements of the rich including indoor golf.
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Spotlight hits Miss Cayman hopefuls

| 10/08/2010 | 48 Comments

(CNS): The six young women who will be competing next month for the title of Miss Cayman Islands have now been revealed. Cristin Alexander, Mysti Bush, Trudy Ann Duncan, Venessa Ebanks, Janine Martins and Shari Walton will make their first official public appearance at the Platform Launch and Charity Auction in two weeks, but the pageant contestants have already been out and about in front of the cameras with a bikini photo shoot this weekend at Rum Point. The girls will now take part in a whirl of events and ‘photo-ops before the judges award the crown at the grand finale on 25 September.

The beauty pageant will after a year’s absence return to the Lions Centre, and this year’s theme ‘Earth, Wind & Fire’ will set a bold tone for the upcoming events. The first major fundraiser will be on Saturday, 21 August, at the Westin Casuarina Resort when the six contestants will have their official introduction and an opportunity to talk about their chosen charities, in keeping with the Pageant’s mantra of ‘Beauty with a Purpose’. They will also receive their official sashes from their individual sponsors.
The Minister’s Black Tie Ball is scheduled for Saturday, 18 September, at the Grand Cayman Marriott Resort, hosted by Minister of Tourism McKeeva Bush. Organisers said they expected that to be a “colourful evening full of surprises.”
Leading up to the main event, the contestants have an intense two months of preparation, including a vigorous training and fitness programme with Ford Fitness, several photo sessions, the Sister Islands trip and the Island Tour.  
Photo:  The 2010 Miss Cayman Contestants at a swimwear photo shoot at Rum Point. (L-R) Cristin Alexander; Janine Martins; Trudyann Duncan; Mysti Bush; Shari Walton and Venessa Ebanks.

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