Archive for September 3rd, 2010

Crime falling on Cayman Brac

| 03/09/2010 | 17 Comments

(CNS): While there is some concern that drug and alcohol abuse is becoming more prevalent, crime figures for Cayman Brac fell this year, the area commander, Chief Inspector Malcolm Kay (left), told residents this week in the last of the current round of RCIPS public meetings. In January through August this year 94 crimes were logged, ranging from assault to burglary, down from 119 crimes for the same period last year (147 for the whole of 2009). Kayspeculated that the rise last year was a result of Hurricane Paloma in November 2008, which resulted in an influx of people to help with the clean-up operations. “I didn’t realize it was that amount,” said Bracker Arlen Reid. I’d like to see that go down.”

The effects of the hurricane on the people here plus the addition of construction and clean-up workers “bringing their social and driving habits from elsewhere” offered a plausible explanation for the spike in crime last year, Kay said. While the vast majority of offences were traffic related, assault occasioning actual bodily harm was the most serious crime recorded, down from 33 to 22 incidents, the majority of which were domestic disputes, with common assaults down from 13 to just two.

Police Commissioner David Baines said the Sister Islands also had two of the best police stations and the Brac station was the first to be equipped with video equipment for interviewing suspects. He said the recent use of the helicopter to locate missing fishermen at Pickle Bank (a shallow area about 75 miles from Cayman Brac) proved that it could be used in Sister Islands operations.

The commissioner said that the close community spirit on the Sister Islands was something they wanted to recreate on Grand Cayman. However, while the Brac is still a place where people don’t bother to lock their houses, Baines asked people to lock up anyway. “It just takes one offender to ruin it,” he said.

One issue that had been raised in Little Cayman was hurricane preparedness, Baines said and explained that, in case of emergency on the Sister Islands, there were possible plans to have a dedicated team of one inspector and 10 constables ready to drop in and go wherever Kay needed them.

Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor Connolly, who is the second elected member for the district and sat on the panel with Baines, Kay and Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam, voiced her concern about criminal elements “infiltrating the Brac”, and wondered if there was a way to stop them coming to the island. The DP also noted the rise in alcohol and, to a lesser extent, drug abuse and said there was concern for the young people.

Police staffing on the Brac was down four constables – there are eight currently, who work with Kay and newly promoted Sergeant Ashton Ferguson – and the CoP said that the island would “get its share” when new staff was recruited. A process that is underway to fill 27 of the 85 vacancies: nine new recruits were in training, ten experienced detectives were on their way and the RCIPS was also recruiting from the US, UK, Canada and the Caribbean.

No one had any complaints about current police officers on the Brac, but after hearing about past experiences of rude officers, Baines said he had “no truck with bad attitude”. He said they were bringing people who had had bad experiences with the police into the training sessions for new recruits to explain what it was like so the recruits can understandthe difference attitude makes.

Referring to the RCIPS Oath of Office he said that officers who couldn’t follow that had no place in the service. “If you fail that you fail the community,” he said.

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Swiss won’t assist in stolen bank data cases

| 03/09/2010 | 0 Comments

(Swissinfo): The government of Switzerland has adopted a new ordinance setting out when it will or will not cooperate with other countries requesting assistance in cases of suspected tax crime. In a statement on Wednesday, the government said that requests for administrative assistance would be rejected if they are “based on information which was obtained or forwarded due to actions which are punishable under Swiss law”. Recently, there have been cases of client data stolen from Swiss banks or Swiss branches of foreign banks which were offered to, and in some cases bought by, the authorities in European countries including Germany and France.

The ordinance also forbids assistance to governments in cases of fishing expeditions (where tax authorities trawl for data on the off-chance of uncovering evasion or fraud).


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Alibis revealed for accused

| 03/09/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Both Brandon Leslie-Ebanks and Patrick McField had given the police alibis for their whereabouts at the time Omar Samuels, the man they are accused of murdering, was believed to have been shot, the court heard on Thursday. During the fourth day of the Grand Court trial of Leslie-Ebanks, McField and Osborne Douglas for the murder of  Samuels the jury heard from a number of police witnesses, some of whom had interviewed the accused men. Statements taken from the men before and after their arrests revealed they both Leslie-Ebanks and McField had offered up friends and family who could vouch for where they were at the time of the murder and they denied being with each other.

According to two taped statements that Leslie-Ebanks gave to the police after his arrest for the murder, he had been at a friend’s house all of the Saturday night in question, but just before midnight he went to JahT’s restaurant in McField Square to buy food, which he then took back to his friend’s house in Central, an area of George Town some ten minutes walk from McField Square. He then ate the food before his "baby-mama" came to pick him up, he told the police. In his statement he said they had then both headed to Smith Cove in her car and then later she took him home. 
Leslie-Ebanks told police he was in the square close to the murder scene for no more than about ten minutes as he bought roast conch. He said he seen Omar Samuels sitting on a porch at a house in Harlem as he passed to go to the restaurant but he did not see him again when he passed a little after midnight on his return journey to Central after buying the food. He also said he had seen Osborne Douglas in passing that night on the street but he had notbeen out with him or Patrick McField, whom he had not seen at all.
In the police interview Leslie-Ebanks had denied having anything to do with the murder or having a gun but admitted knowing Samuels and said he believed they were related. The defendant told the interviewing officers that he had nothing against Samuels and had nothing to do with the shooting.  “It was not me in Harlem,” he told the police. “He was alive and well when I passed him,” Leslie-Ebanks said of Samuels. Told that he had been seen there with a gun by a witness, he said it made no sense and he knew nothing about where McField and Douglas were but he, Brandon Leslie, was not there and he did not shoot Samuels.
One police officer revealed to the court that it was believed Samuels was shot shortly before 1:00am and that on both occasions Leslie-Ebanks was interviewed he had stated he was at his friend’s house and then with his girlfriend around the time of the murder. The court heard, however, that despite offering the alibi the first time he was interviewed, he was then interviewed a second time without the police having investigated his account. The police finally took statements from Leslie-Ebanks’ witnesses more than two weeks after he had given his account for the second time.
The jury also heard that Patrick McField was with other people that night, one of whom, a police officer said, had corroborated his account. This happened early in the investigation before McField was a suspect. Before he was arrested McField had volunteered a statement to the police about the night confirming he was in Peppers and saying he had seen Samuels there. McField told police that on the Saturday 4 July he was celebrating his birthday, which was on the following Sunday.
He went to Peppers with his female cousin and met more friends and family there, where they stayed drinking until the club closed around midnight. McField told police he was drunk at the end of the night so his cousin drove him back to her home in Randyke Gardens. DS Lauriston Burton confirmed that he had interviewed McField’s cousin who supported McField’s account.
Following his arrest both McField and Douglas exercised their right to silence and did not offer further formal comment to the police. However, Douglas told thepolice outside of interview that they had missed somebody and that somebody was Martin Trench.
The court has already heard that a fresh palm print belonging to Trench was found on a car very close to the murder scene, and that he was the former boyfriend of the crown’s sixteen-year-old eye witness. A friend of Samuels who gave evidence yesterday claimed that before he died Samuels told him that a man called Martin had shot him and taken his gun.
During the fourth day, aside from hearing evidence from the police, the jury also heard from pathologist Dr Bruce Hymer, who confirmed that Samuels’ death was a homicide. He said he had died from a loss of blood as a result of the gunshot wound that had entered through his left thigh and penetrated the femoral artery and vein and exited through the back of his legs, some 2 cm higher.
Although the pathologist could not give an exact position for Samuels when he was shot, Dr Hymer said he was standing upright and, having only one arm as Samuels had lost his left arm in a previous accident, it was physically impossible for him to have inflected the wound on himself. He also said there was no evidence of gunshot burning or residue around the entrance, which would suggest Samuels had been shot from some distance.
He also stated that the grazes and abrasions on Samuels’ body were consistent with him collapsing to the ground as a result of his wound and there was no physical evidence that he had been beaten or kicked and punched.
The case resumes in Grand Court one on Friday morning with evidence from the telecommunication companies.

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Chaos at school campus as uniform stock falls short

| 03/09/2010 | 34 Comments

(CNS): Frustrations were mounting yesterday when literally hundreds of parents and students were forced to queue in the blazing sun in order to try and get uniforms for the new school year. Following a change in uniform for the new high school system but a delay in their delivery, there will not be enough to go round and parents had to take a chance on queuing up at both the John Gray Campus and the civic centre in Bodden Town yesterday in order to get the school clothes. Parents were also angry that education authorities were not keeping them informed about what was happening. Although the minister has apologized he said it is beyond government’s control. (Photo courtesy of News 27).

According to reports on New 27, parents were angry that education authorities had not managed to sort out the problem during the long summer period.
Education Minister Rolston Anglin offered his apologies but said the delay was beyond government’s control. “We are going to get through it … by the end of September we will be fully stocked all the schools will have uniforms,” he said. “In four weeks time all of this will be behind us.”
Officials have also issued a dress code for the year 12 students to cover September until the full uniform stock arrives.

See News 27 video

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Rapper spotted “courting” Cayman model

| 03/09/2010 | 58 Comments

( Fresh from a split from Amber Rose, Kanye West is back on the romantic playing field. Yeezy cozied up next to Nick Cannon’s ex-fiancé and Victoria’s Secret supermodel Selita Ebanks in a suite inside Arthur Ashe Stadium yesterday (Sept. 1) to watch Andy Roddick play at the U.S. Open in Queens, New York City. The pair, rumoured to have been dating in the past, was all smiles as they sipped lime-spritzed club soda drinks, watching from seats positioned in front of “Gossip Girl” stars Ed Westwick and Jessica Szohr, who shared a laugh with the happy couple.


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Gaston fades to a remnant as Earl rolls on

| 03/09/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS):  As Gaston, the season’s seventh storm faded away this evening, Earl continued on towards the coast of North Carolina. At 8pm it was located some 160 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras. While winds have dropped some to 110mph, Earl remains a large category two hurricane and it is moving at about 18mph. The NHC said a turn towards the north-northeast with an increase in forward speed is expected on Friday.  The centre of Earl is forecast to pass near the North Carolina outer banks tonight and approach south-eastern New England by Friday night.

Tropical-storm-force winds are expected to reach the coast within the warning area soon. Even if the centre of Earl remains offshore hurricane force winds are expected to occur in the outer banks overnight tonight, the NHC said. A dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 3 to 5 feet above ground level within the hurricane warning area over North Carolina and the lower Chesapeake Bay.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Fiona is still moving north-northwestward about 425 miles south-southwest of Bermuda where a tropical storm warning is in effect. A turn toward the north is expected tonight with a motion toward the north-northeast forecast by late Friday. On the forecast track the centre of Fiona is expected to pass near Bermuda late Friday or early Saturday. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 105 miles to the east of the centre.
Following a pattern of late in the Atlantic, the NHC has also recorded yet another area of law pressure off the Cape Verde Islands could organise itself into a tropical cyclone over the next few days.


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Charities law faces rewrite

| 03/09/2010 | 19 Comments

(CNS): Despite previous plans to bring the Charities Bill to the Legislative Assembly at the next sitting, a statement from the Attorney General’s Office on Thursday evening revealed that the draft bill will be going back to the drawing board as a result of concerns from charities and the public. Sam Bulgin acknowledged that more needed to be done by government to clarify the law to regulate charities, as mandated by Cayman’s international obligations. He said the bill would be revisited for further consultation. The bill would have seen charities charged fees, be required to submit formal accounts and reveal anonymous donors before they could be registered and raise funds.

“It is not unreasonable for members of the public to harbour some anxiety in circumstances where, as is clearly the case here, there is a lack of clarity in what the law is seeking to achieve. It is incumbent on government to address the numerous concerns before attempting to move ahead with the Charities Bill,” Bulgin stated.
He said the bill would be revisited and further consultations conducted with a view to reaching a sensible compromise going forward. “The government has no intention to destroy the enormous good will relating to charitable assistance. Indeed, the government continues to be very appreciative of the efforts of these charitable organisations and their donors,” the attorney general added.
In August CNS reported on the proposals contained in the draft bill, which would have introduced formal regulation of all local charities forcing them to pay fees and submit annual accounts before they could legally raise funds. The report received a mixed response from CNS readers, with many concerned that the fees and red-tape would see charities close down, while others pointed to the need for some form of regulation.
Many pointed out that it is not a priority, and one local auditor stated that the bill needed to be revised before it could be taken seriously. “The idea of subjecting members of service clubs to due diligence procedures is over the top as is the idea of annual audits. Audit firms do a substantial amount of pro bono work as it is and no one wishes to see monies raised for charities being spent on audit fees or indeed fees paid to government,” said Chris Johnson. “This Bill cannot be a priority bearing in mind the problems that require resolving as a matter of urgency such as Mount Trashmore.”
This weekend the Observer on Sunday reported that the charity sector and the wider community had some serious concerns about the impact the bill would have on their bottom line, with the need to hire staff to formalise their accounting processes and the possibility of scaring anonymous donors away with the need to reveal where all of their contributions came from.
It also reported major concerns from the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, which has reported concerns to government on several occasions about the impact of the bill on the private wealth and institutional use of charities in Cayman.
STEP said it had been decided that it would assist in drafting a revised Charities Bill as a discussion document, which was submitted to the Law Reform Commission.
“As the months passed, it was assumed that the technical requirements evidently necessary from the STEP redraft and the more general objections of the local charities had been sufficient to cause the idea of regulating charities in the manner of the first draft to have been abandoned,” the organization stated in the Observer. “The first that the private sector then hears, almost a year later, is that a Charities Bill, which nobody in the private sector has apparently seen, is about to be gazetted.”
STEP said the latest draft varies little from the original and warned of the potential impacts on the financial services industry, a point that likely prompted the government’s decision to scrap the proposed bill and start over.
While the goal is to regulate charities to protect donors and to ensure charities are not abused when it comes to money laundering or terrorist financing, there appear to be numerous unintended consequences in the current draft, which will now be rewritten.

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