Archive for July 25th, 2011

West Bay trio not guilty

| 25/07/2011 | 1 Comment

(CNS):  Full story — Three men were found not guilty Monday for the murder of Alrick Peddie, also known as 'Bling', in West Bay last year. Deward Bush and Jose Sanchez walked out of the courtroom, immediately free men, after Justice Harrison said the crown had failed to prove its case against the men in the trial which began last month. Aaron Crawford remained in custody in order to clear up other matters. The court room erupted with emotional scenes when the judge handed down the not guilty verdict, stating he did not find the crown's key witness Michael Ebanks credible. Peddie's widow, who was present for the verdict, was taken to George Town hospital after she collapsed outside the courthouse.

Peddie was gunned down in Michael Ebanks' family yard on Willie Farington Drive on the 24 March. Ebanks had been the crown's key witness against Bush, Sanchez and Crawford, who were charged with the murder as a joint enterprise.

In his ruling, the judge said the case had hung on the credibility of Ebanks' eyewitness account as the prosecution had very little forensic and circumstantial evidence. “Identity is the crucial issue in the trial, “ said Justice Harrison.

In his evidence, Ebanks said that he saw Bush, Sanchez and Crawford pull into the yard at a high speed in a red Honda Civic, which belonged to a friend of his. However, conflicting testimony from an earlier witness in the case presented by the defense suggested that Ebanks had previously stated that the men were masked.

The crown's case depended on the judge believing that Ebanks was telling the truth when he said he saw the three men very clearly. On the other hand, the defense had used the statement of this early witness, which indicated that on the evening of the murder Ebanks had said the gunmen were masked. The defense had also pointed to the evidence that all windows on the Honda Civic were heavily tinted.

The judge pointed out that he was faced with two irreconcilable positions in relation to the case. He revealed to the court his concerns over Ebanks' story.

“A doubt lingers in my mind over Ebanks' ability to have made the identification,” he said.
“ I reject his explanations … I am convinced this witness was making up the story as he went along to try and justify what he said he saw."

The judge explained that he could not be sure about his evidence which was compounded by the lies he told about his brother not being at the scene of the crime.

The judge was not convinced by the crown's other evidence, such as the DNA and the gunshot residue, and he also said that the telecommunications evidence contributed nothing to the case.

In his verdict, Justice Harrison said that in the absence of any supporting evidence and the fact that identification was made in difficult circumstances he could not be sure that the three men before him had committed the murder as a joint enterprise.

“The crown has not discharged the burden to satisfy me so that I feel sure that these defendants were there and killed Alrick Peddie,” he said as he handed down the not guilty verdict.

Friends and family of the defendants cheered as Bush and Sanchez were immediately released from custody. It is understood that Crawford is dealing with other issues and was remanded back in custody.

Meanwhile, Alrick Peddie's widow who had fled from the courtroom as the judge read the verdict collapsed on the pavement outside the George Town library nearby the courthouse. She was assisted by friends, family and emergency services before being taken to the George Town Hospital.

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Six-year-old chef shares cook-off trophy

| 25/07/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): In a surprising twist, two winners emerged from the 14th Annual Little Cayman Cook-Off this year, with one of the winners being under seven years of age. Little Cayman Beach Resort Head Chef Anthony Pizzarello and six-year-old Mathieu Pothier tied for the highest total points in the competition. After considerable deliberation among the judges, Pizzarello and Pothier both received a Cayman National Grand Champion trophy and the $250 cash prize. Photo: Tasting Judges Geussepe Gatta (far left) and Vico Testori (far right) with Grand Champions Mathieu Pothier and Andrew Pizzarello.

A fundraiser of the Sister Islands Tourism Association (SITA), the competition, held on 2 July at the Little Cayman Beach Resort (LCBR), received entrants from the professional and non-professional cooking arenas, who were judged this year by Vico Testori of Pappagallo Restaurant, Frederic Morineau of the Grand Cayman Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Geuseppe Gatta of the Lighthouse Restaurant at Breakers.

LCBR also played host to SICO's traditional Caribbean jerk chicken, with attendees being given the option of upgrading their dinner choices to sample the 46 dishes submitted in the competition. A raffle was held shortly after the competition with prizes donated by Cayman Airways and a host of other resorts, restaurants and businesses around the Cayman Islands.

“It is incredible that on an island with very limited resources and a sometimes weekly supply barge the quality and freshness of the food can be at this level,” said Testori.

Suzy Soto, who owns a guest cottage on the island, said that it was an event that merited international attention, out-performing even the vaunted Grand Cayman competition, while SICO host Peter Hillenbrand said it was the most successful SITA fundraiser in the 14 years of the competition and that he estimated US$7,500 was raised from the competition.

The results of the competition were:

Local (Non-Professional Cooks): Mathieu Pothier was awarded first place with Saucisson au Chocolat and Mirelda Massias was awarded second place with Land Crab Fritters.

Soup/Appetizer: Debbie Truchan of the Little Cayman Bahai' Communit was awarded first place with Conch Pate with Caribbean Herb Bread served with Plantain Coconut Relish and Sweet Chili Pepper Jelly. Diane Sherer of Pirates Point was awarded second place with Caribbean Seafood Corn Chowder.

Salad: Diane Sherer of Pirates Point was awarded first place with Ahi, Avocado, Heart of Palm with Wasabi Dressing and Team SCC of the Southern Cross Club was awarded second place with Tropical Sweet and Spicy Crab and Fruit Salad with Passion Fruit and Honey Vinaigrette.

Entree: Anthony Pizzarello of the Little Cayman Beach Resort was awarded first place with Braised Beef Short Ribs au jus with Corn Pudding and Team SCC of the Southen CrossClub was awarded with Yam Crusted Mahi Mahi with Trilogy of Vegetable Puree.

Dessert: Debbie Truchan of Little Cayman Bahai' Community was awarded first place with  Cayman Triple Treat Tower (Papaya Heavy Cake Mango Mousse Almond Coconut Crunch garnished with Sugared Papaya Flower) and Team SCC of the Southern Cross Club was awarded second place with Little Cayman Naseberry and Mango Cheesecake.

This year's SICO was sponsored primarily by Cayman National Bank, along with Cayman Airways, Cayman Imports, Jacques Scott, Island Supply, Cayman Distributors, the Cayman Islands Brewery, Tortuga Rum andvarious others.
 

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Residents urged to attend meeting on Emerald Sound

| 25/07/2011 | 52 Comments

(CNS): Both the developer’s representative and those against the proposed development in South Sound are urging everyone to come out to a meeting being hosted by Burns Conolly on Thursday evening to discuss the issues surrounding Emerald Sound. There is considerable opposition in the area to the development because of the plans to move the road, dredge the sea bed and create canals which will bring the ocean into the inland part of the property. The meeting will take place on Thursday 28 July at the South Sound community centre when Conolly says he will be answering questions about the proposals.

Last year residents in the area submitted a petition to planning opposing the project and hoped that would be an end to the application to dredge the seabed and create the canals. The objectors say that they are not opposed to the landowner developing his land but have real concerns about the negative environmental impact that the canals and sea dredging will have.

The residents are also opposed to plans to move the road inland which they say will increase the value of the owner’s property without benefit to the community as the land belongs to the crown. Connolly has denied that moving the road is about financial gain but he says it is to create a footpath and a cycle lane.

Conolly has also denied any major environmental damage as a result of the canals and dredging however a report by the department of environment has noted may serious environmental problems with the plans to dredge and create the canals in a marine protection zone.

Last week more than 50 of those who oppose the development met to begin the full scale campaign in preparation for 3 August planning meeting when the application will be heard by the Central Planning Authority.

“We do not oppose the owner developing his land, however we do oppose the canals and bridge, the moving the road and dredging,” one of the objectors told CNS as she urged people to attend Thursday’s meeting at the South Sound Community Centre at 7pm.

The campaigners are also urging people to contact their elected representatives to demonstrate their opposition and concerns. They are also hoping people will write letters and commentary for the press to show their objections and why and to enlist as much public support for what is being described as a precedent setting development. 

The campaigners are also taking a leaf out of the campaign against the East End Seaport and will be erecting large signs near the site this week about the opposition to the development and why, as well as garden signs for homes in the area.

Anyone wishing to donate to the campaign or who needs more information can contact katrinajurn@gmail.com

For more on the development see DoE queries Emerald Sound
 

To submit a viewpoint to CNS about the project email nickywatson@caymannewsservice.com

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Business owner robbed 7 times in 18 months

| 25/07/2011 | 64 Comments

(CNS): The owner of Reflections has reached the end of his patience when it comes to crime and has said that there is no point employing security guards when they can’t fire back. Prentice Panton’s (left) stores havebeen the victim of robberies seven times over the last year and a half and he said the CCTV footage during the last hit at the 24 hour store on Godfrey Nixon Way demonstrates that without a baton, cuffs, or even a bullet proof  vest the guards can do nothing. In the CCTV of the robbery the guard at the store is shown running to the safety of the rear of the store when the robbers began shooting at the door. (Photo  Dennie Warren Jr)

In an interview with Cayman 27, Panton and his operations manager, Cassidy Jackson, said guards should be able to properly protect the stores, staff and customers.

The latest robbery at Reflections happened on Tuesday night, 19 July, when two masked gunmen fired at the door, which was locked, and threw stones at the glass to break it before one of them rushed in and stole the cash pan. The unarmed security guard, who was by the counter at the time, retreated to the safety of the store’s back room.

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Go to CCTV of robbery

 

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Alden:‘Schools done by book’

| 25/07/2011 | 66 Comments

(CNS): The opposition leader said Friday that he was never concerned about the premier and the education minister’s request to have a commission of enquiry into the high schools as the procurement process was transparent and done by the book. Speaking after the governor announced that there would be no commission of enquiry because of an anticipated review by the auditor general, Alden McLaughlin said the request by McKeeva Bush was never anything more than a distraction. The PPM leader said that government may want the national conversation to be about the schools but the people’s focus was on the economy and the rise in crime, “including crime in high places,” he added.

“The call by the premier and the minister for education for a commission of enquiry into the school projects was nothing more than a stunt to distract attention from the police investigation into allegations of financial impropriety by the premier,” he stated. “The entire process surrounding the procurement process of the contracts for the development of the new schools was done by the book. Every contract was fairly tendered then considered and awarded by the Central Tenders Committee and there was no political interference in the process.”

McLaughlin said he did not for one minute imagine he would escape criticism over the management of the projects when the audit was undertaken but he said that he was never concerned as there was no impropriety on the part of the PPM government and no breaking of the rules. The former education minister said that he would have expected an official audit to take place in terms of value for money because of the size of the project.

The former auditor general, Dan Duguay, had told CNS before his departure that if he was not leaving the islands he would have earmarked the schools for a value for money audit – not because of any indication there was anything untoward but simply because of the size of the project. Duguay noted that it was the role of a public auditor to review all large developments than involve considerable sums of public money.

On Thursday the governor revealed that he had told the premier that he would not consider a commission of enquiry until after a public audit on the school projectswas complete.

“The Auditor General has informed me that he has already put in place plans to carry out performance audits of the John Gray and Clifton Hunter High Schools this financial year. He has further told me that in the course of a programme of work this year he will also be reviewing the transactions around the Beulah Smith High School and the new George Town Primary School projects,” Duncan Taylor said. 

He said he would be prepared to consider the matter again after the auditor general has submitted his reports to the Legislative Assembly should his findings indicate that there are any matters which might benefit from having such an enquiry.

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Marine centre begins major climate change research

| 25/07/2011 | 3 Comments

(CNS): The Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) in Little Cayman is about to undertake a critical research project regarding the direct relationship between climate change and coral reefs. Scientists at the institute say that laboratory experiments show that because of the increasing acidity of the ocean from global warming the capability of marine organisms to maintain and produce their skeletons is reduced. “These predictions need to be testedat a relatively healthy open ocean coral reef site,” the CCMI said. Little Cayman’s geology, location, reefs and low population make it the ideal place to do the work, the experts added.

CCMI is teaming up with the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd’s Ocean Fund, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and the Image Group to establish the unique reference site where the relationships between climate change and coral reef stress can be measured directly.  The project is being headed up by CCMI’s Director of Research and Conservation Dr. Carrie Manfrino, Associate Professor of Oceanography at Kean University.

“The outcome of our work will be to improve the quality of information that is available about the risks that changing climate presents to communities that rely on healthy coral reefs,” Dr Manfrino said.

Scientific models indicate that rising temperatures and sea levels, increasing storm intensity and changes in the ocean’s chemistry will stress coral reefs beyond sustainability.

“In the shallowest most productive part of the ocean, measurable increases in the concentrationof carbon dioxide are expected to interrupt important biological processes that build the skeletons of myriad marine plants and animals.  These chemical reactions are changing the pH of the water and the resulting ocean acidification is one of the greatest threats to marine life yet encountered in the history of our planet,” the CCMI revealed in a release about the new project.

The delicate skeletons of corals, plankton, and even marine algae are made of calcium carbonate. Corals provide the architectural structure for reefs and create the intricate labyrinth that is home to the highest biological diversity in the ocean.  Just as it would be impossible to build a house without a framework, a reef relies on corals for it structure.

Laboratory and controlled experiments show that these changes in the ocean’s chemistry reduce the capability of marine organisms to maintain and produce their skeletons. The scientists explained that the predictions need to be tested at a relatively healthy open ocean coral reef site.

The Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s field station on Little Cayman maintains the region’s only permanently moored oceanographic monitoring station -the Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS), is an instrument conceived by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to continuously measure ocean conditions. 

Newly designed instruments to measure ocean acidification will be installed on the CREWS and ecological experiments, designed to test whether corals are capable of regenerating, will be conducted.  The flat, pure limestone nature of Little Cayman; the extraordinarily low human population (under 200); plus well-developed coral reefs surrounding this isolated oceanic island make this an exceptional site for this study.

This project will establish a much needed long-term record of the fluctuations in ocean chemistry at CCMI’s Little Cayman site.

Studies of the primary structural organisms on reefs including the juvenile coral community will evaluate the level of stress using such indicators as reduced growth rates, changes in the density of skeletons, coral bleaching and declines in recruitment and survival of juvenile corals. 

The data collected will gain an insight into the immediate effects of the changes on coral and will help reef managers understand these threats so that they can more effectively conserve coral reefs and their associated flora and fauna. 

“The communication of the findings of the studies to the general public and young students enrolled in CCMI’s many education programs is of paramount importance.  By disseminating the information we will provide a wider understanding of this critical issue and how to manage it into the future,” the centre added.

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OCG investigates JDIP contract with China Harbour

| 25/07/2011 | 0 Comments

(Go Jamaica): It appears that a claim by the government that it had to hire a Chinese firm to execute the US$400M Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP) as part of a loan agreement maybe false. This was revealed in a release from the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) in which it announced it would be launching a special investigation into the award of the contract to China Harbour Engineering Company.The OCG says it decided to investigate the matter following permanent secretary in the transport and works ministry, Dr. Alwin Hales’ failure to substantiate claims that the loan from the China Exim Bank came with a precondition that a Chinese company had to be contracted to carry out the project.

The claim was made by transport and works minister, Mike Henry in a rebuttal of a media release by the OCG.The OCG had raised concerns that such a large contract had been awarded to one entity and without being put to tender. The OCG says its examination of the contractual and financing documentation between the China Exim Bank and Jamaica did not substantiate Henry’s claims.

The OCG says it therefore wrote to the permanent Secretary on June 28 asking that he provide evidence to substantiate the minister’s claim.

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