Archive for August 17th, 2011

Lawyer attacks credibility of key witness

| 17/08/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The character and credibility of Andy Barnes, the father of four-year-old Jeremiah Barnes, who was killed in a shooting at a West Bay gas station last year, came under attack on Tuesday as John Ryder QC accused him of pointing the finger at his client for the killing, even though he did not have any real opportunity to see who the gunman was as he had claimed. Ryder suggested that Barnes had a violent nature and, as a result, there were many people in Cayman who might want to kill him. The defence attorney said that Barnes had deliberately singled out Devon Anglin as the gunman in an act of revenge as he believed that he was responsible for the death of one of Barnes’ close friends.

The child’s father was subjected to a lengthy cross-examination from Anglin’s UK-based defence attorney and spent the entire day on the witness stand. Barnes, who is currently in custody on firearms related offenses, denied that there were lots of people seeking to kill him or that he had made threats to anyone. He insisted that the only person who seemed to want him dead was Anglin and he had seen him clearly on the night his son was shot at the Esso station in West Bay on 15 February 2010.

Going through Barnes’ evidence in chief, Ryder pointed out that he had described to the police the exact clothing worn by Anglin earlier that day when the two men had seen each other by chance, when he had given his statement about the gunman in the wake of the shooting. The lawyer noted, however, that the CCTV evidence later revealed that the shooter was actually wearing completely different clothes. 

“What you have done is taken the clothes Devon was wearing that day when you saw him and then put them on the gunman,” the lawyer suggested to Barnes, who replied, “No, sir.”

The lawyer pointed out discrepancies between the evidence Barnes gave in court and the earlier statements and deposition given at the preliminary enquiry. He said Barnes had only stated in court that the gunman was still fixing his mask or bandana when in previous statements he had said the gunman’s face was not covered and he had seen Devon Anglin. The lawyer pointed out that the CCTV shows a masked man firing on the Barnes' car.

As he pressed the witness, Ryder suggested that everything had happened far too fast and there was no real opportunity for Barnes to have seen who the gunman was or the details of his face as Barnes had said in his evidence.

“You were determined to point the finger at Devon Anglin and you did not see the details of the gunman,” Ryder suggested during his cross-examination, adding that he had seen nothing more than a fleeting glance of the shooter. “I seen more than that, sir,” Barnes said as he insisted that the gunman was the defendant.

Barnes admitted that he believed Anglin had killed Carlos Webster in a nightclub in 2009 but he denied that he was accusing him of his son’s murder for that reason. He said that he had seen the gunman on the night his son was killed and it was Devon Anglin.

Throughout the cross-examination Ryder challenged Barnes over his history, threats he had suggested Barnes had made to others, and his criminal record. Barnes denied making threats to anyone, including the threat he reportedly made in the court house to Jordan Manderson in front of a police officer. He also said that since his son was killed, Justin Manderson had tried to kill him because he was the cause of his cousin – whois Devon Anglin — being in jail.

However, throughout the cross-examination Barnes stuck to his version of events in connection with the night of the shooting, insisting that Anglin was the gunman. But after several hours standing in the witness box he became angry with the lawyer as he questioned him intently about other events and discrepancies in his statements and evidence.

“I shouldn’t be going through this kinda crap,” Barnes said. “I’m not the one on trial for murder.” When pulled up by the judge, Barnes said he was going through a lot. The judge acknowledged his loss but said it was no excuse as he reassured him that no lawyer would be permitted to take advantage of him.

During his probing Ryder sought to bring to the attention of the judge, who is trying the case alone, the possibility that Barnes could have deliberately pointed the finger at Anglin because of the animosity between the two men, who were once close friends. He also pressed the point that Barnes had a chequered past, which, although this was denied by the witness, had included threats to other people. He also pushed the issue that Barnes believed his friend Carlos had been killed by Anglin, which was motive to try and blame him for the death of his child.

The trial continues Wednesday with the next crown witness.

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Mac goes on attack

| 17/08/2011 | 268 Comments

(CNS): The country’s premier has lashed out at the auditor general’s office and the media in connection with his Nation Building Fund. In a statement broadcast on TV and radio on Tuesday evening, which was not widely publicised, the premier accused the audit office of courting media headlines and implied that writers on a local newspaper could be devil worshippers. Defending his decision to give grants to churches because of their important role in society and young people who needed scholarships for a second chance at education, McKeeva Bush said he intended to keep on helping local churches and those in need. (Photo Dennie Warren JR)

There was considerable backlash from the community expressed on the CNS blog, the radio talk shows and in the wider public domain when the details of the grants given under the Nation Building Fund were revealed via two FOI requests, one made by CNS. In response the premier has chosen to hit out in particular at an editorial published in The Caymanian Compass last week as well as the Office of the Auditor General (OAG).

A spokesperson for the OAG told CNS that the office would be examining the Nation Building Fund at some point in this financial year in order to establish the criteria on how the money was being allocated and to ensure value for money was being achieved with public cash.

In his televised statement Tuesday, Bush said that he hoped the auditor general’s office would do what an audit of public expenditure is intended to do, which was to help strengthen the process and value for money. The premier said the OAG had a right and duty to report its findings but accused the office of seeking out media attention.

“It does not enhance their contribution to good governance for them to play up their public role to the point of seeking out banner headlines for themselves and making the office into a media celebrity as it has been doing in recent years,” Bush stated, echoing comments he had made in the past about the previous auditor general, Dan Duguay. Bush had accused Duguay of being a “cowboy” following a damning report concerning the Royal Watler terminal.

Soon after the premier began criticising Duguay publicly, he learned that his contract would not be renewed and the governor’s office began the search for a replacement.

Alastair Swarbrick arrived just over a year ago to take up the post and has until recently focused on the issue of government’s failure to complete annual financial reports. However, last month the AG published his first value for money report, which was directly critical of the current administration when he questioned the management of government procurement and accused politicians of interfering in the central tendering process.

Speaking about the wider reaction to his Nation Building Fund, the premier said he could not understand why there had been so much criticism about the government’s efforts to give grants to the churches and help young people get a second chance.

He denied that there was any patronage involved, as suggested by an editorial in the Compass. Bush claimed that the grants were made to the churches that had heard about the fund and applied for help for after school programmes or with buildings and buying land.

He said the disparity in amounts was because the different churches had applied for grants for different things and that obviously there would be a difference in funds to start an afterschool programme compared to building a community hall.

Answering criticisms about the significant amount of money ($1.3 million) which was given to his own church, the Wesleyan Holiness, he said that there was no wrongdoing and the money was to build a community hall and hurricane shelter which would benefit the whole community. He said the church, like many others, had been completely destroyed after Hurricane Ivan but it had built back the sanctuary without any help from government.

The premier said that the churches had been an enormous help to the community and what they did could not be measured in dollars and cents as he accused the newspaper of being “slippery” in the way it reported on the issue.

“Why does giving money to churches cause so much upset?” he asked, adding that he also wondered why the newspaper thought the churches wielded too much power as suggested in the editorial. “What problems have the church caused?” Bush queried.

The premier continued to attack the paper directly, accusing the staff or editor of having “jaundiced views … where people don’t know what they come from or what they did ….(sic).”

Not for the first time, the premier questioned the politics of the press and implied that they came from countries where things were going badly wrong while Cayman still enjoyed good governance.

“Ask what are their politics … whether they are devil worshippers … ask why US don’t allow prayer in school, some of them, and other countries are now burning down, and young people running to and fro looting and burning … thank god we have none of this … thank god we do have peace order and good governance. This has been because all of our years we have had tremendous influence from churches … pastors and Sunday schools … who have taught us to do the right thing.”

He said the editorial had led public opinion to a heightened level of suspicion of wrongdoing on his part as well as civil servants and the churches when there was nothing untoward. The premier said that the wider community looks to churches for moral guidance and that they reinforce the community.

“I will pay no attention to the heretics and the devil as he is a roaring lion moving to and fro causing burning in cities, young people killing one another … and those who claim … and marching and causing demonstrations …,” he said.

The premier asked Christians to “pray for them and that they will turn from their wicked, spiteful and dirty ways,” as he added how concerned he was about the turn of events in response to the help given to the churches.

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Judges missing in phone taps

| 17/08/2011 | 23 Comments

(CNS): The leader of the opposition has raised concerns that the judiciary is missing from the recently introduced phone tapping regulations and that too much power has been given to a “committee of two” over a very serious and sensitive issue. Alden McLaughlin said he understands the need for law enforcement agencies to listen to phone conversations in the fight against crime and that there needs to be a lawful way to achieve this. However, he said, history indicates that putting the decision in the hands of two representatives of the UK government with no judicial oversight may not be in the best interests of the people of the Cayman Islands.

“It is necessary to have proper checks and balances,” the PPM leader stated. "I am uncomfortable with this cosy committee of two. I believe there needs to be judicial oversight.”

The regulations, which came in to force on Monday following their approval by Cabinet, state that only the governor can sign the warrants which will allow law enforcement officials to tap private phones during investigations. In addition, the application to the governor can only be made by the commissioner of police.

Although the information gathered during a phone tap cannot be used in court as evidence, the commissioner of police can make a request to gather intelligence via a phone tap during a criminal investigation, to avert immediate threats to human life, for issues relating to national security, in connection with ‘mutual assistance’ and to safeguard the economic well-being of the country – which may not necessarily involve criminal activity.

McLaughlin queried why the power for such a sensitive issue had been concentrated in the hands of the governor and the commissioner of police only. He noted that even the collector of customs and the chief immigration officer are not included and they will be forced to go through the commissioner to get the governor’s approval for their own departments' investigations.

“I can’t accept that the chief immigration officer and the collector of customs should be shut out of this process. Why do they have to go to the commissioner?” he asked, noting that the power had been given to direct representatives of the UK government.

Given the experiences in Cayman over the last decade, McLaughlin said, this made him distinctly uncomfortable. He said he did not have a great deal of confidence in the way the UK always used its authority over the jurisdiction. “I do not have any issues with the current governor but it is the problem of what he may be requested to do on behalf of the FCO and how the responsibility for the well being of the islands held by the governor can come into conflict with the wishes of his appointees,” the opposition leader added.

He said it would have been prudent when Cabinet defined the regulations to have more checks and balances to address the perceptions and concerns by having judicial oversight. McLaughlin pointed out that to have the power concentrated in the executive and not the judiciary heightened concerns, especially in the wake of the Euro bank scandal, the David Ballantyne spying issue and more recently the UK police investigations, Operations Tempura and Cealt. 

While the audit committee would offer some oversight, he pointed out that this would take place after the fact and would be unable to prevent abuse by the authorities, only question it later. He further raised the question of who the “overseas ICT expert” would be on that committee.

The opposition leader said the phone tapping question had a long history and it had caused problems when the ICTA law was revised in 2003 in order to facilitate telecommunication liberalisation. While all of the elected members of parliament had at the time wanted the judiciary to be able to sign wire tapping warrants and that made that part of the law, the governor had refused to sign the bill.

As a result, the UDP administration allowed the bill to go forward with a clause allowing the governor to sign warrants. However, the regulations were never completed, not least because the technology had moved beyond the capabilities  of the polie at the time to successfully intercept phone calls and messages. However, having now acquired the technology, the need for a lawful framework to govern covert listening was required.

Speculation that officials are already engaging in the practice as a result of current undercover operations involving overseas law enforcement agencies has also been denied. The governor’s office recently responded to queries from CNS stating that the governor "is not aware of any police officers from the UK or any other jurisdiction being in the Cayman Islands at present or having been in the Cayman Islands recently other than those who are regular members of the RCIPS.”

Last week the acting commissioner of police also denied that the police have already been using phone tapping and covert interception techniques.

McLaughlin stressed his support for law enforcement officials to have access to telecommunications in criminal investigations and said there would be many occasions when it was justified. However, he pointed out that it is a “serious invasion of privacy” and at the very minimum it should have some judicial oversight and such authority should be very carefully exercised. 

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Ministers defend donations

| 17/08/2011 | 66 Comments

(CNS): The association representing local church ministers has defended its receipt of $50,000 from the premier’s controversial fund but has also recommended that local churches should be open and transparent about how they have used the public cash. The Cayman Ministers Association said that it received its donation from the Nation Building Fund in April last year and the money was used for the Miles Ahead (Do Something Cayman) campaign of 2010. The pastors’ group also stated that they believed the donation was made to it legitimately and that it is common practice for governments in Christian countries to support churches.

“The CMA wishes to point out that in the view of its members it is appropriate in general for the Church or any of the Church's agencies to receive funds from legitimate sources, and many of its members, though perhaps not all, would include the government as such a source,” the organisation said in a statement published on its website.  “It is a common and natural practice for governments of countries in which Christian values are recognised to provide some financial assistance as well as moral support for the Church in those countries for its ongoing mission.”

However, the ministers pointed out that the churches and other agencies should be careful not to allow that support “to compromise either a Godly and healthy political independence, or the critical, prayerful and prophetic interaction with governments.”

The church body also said that from an ethical standpoint the membership should maintain an appropriate transparency in financial affairs, including money received from the Nation Building Fund.

The statement came in the wake of considerable criticism across the community about the money that was being handed out under the premier’s nationbuilding programme without full transparency. Following a freedom of information request made by CNS, the number of churches and the amounts they had receive was placed into the public domain.

The details of the grants made under the NBF revealed considerable disparity between the various donations made to the different churches. It is not clear, however, what the criteria is for the grants and how some churches managed to receive more than$1.3 million, including the Wesleyan Holiness Church in West Bay where the premier attends, while others received nothing at all.

The Nation Building Fund is a new budgetary item introduced by the premier and managed in the Ministry of Finance. So far, since it started in the 2009/10 financial year, more than $10 million has been appropriated from public cash and the money is given to what the premier defines as anything that contributes to nation building.

The money has been used for a diverse list of projects and programmes, from paying rangers to patrol Barkers Reserve in West Bay or paying off bad debt claims to just causes, such as the Pines Retirement Home, as well as churches and scholarships for students that can’t qualify through the normal education department criteria.

Related articles:

AG to probe nation building

2 churches get half the cash

Churches get $4M public cash

$10m spent on nation building

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Rumours distract police from real lines of enquiry

| 17/08/2011 | 11 Comments

(CNS): Following a surge in rumours yesterday (Monday 15 August) in connection with the disappearance of 25-year-old Kerran Baker, officers from the RCIPS are appealing to the public to stop fuelling the marl road, which they say distracts from the real investigation. After another day slipped by with no genuine sign of Kerran, who disappeared more than two weeks ago, the police officers, who are giving daily updates on the investigation, said that the circulating of rumours is distracting the investigators from following genuine lines of enquiry. DS Marlon Bodden asked people to refrain from making what can only be considered false and malicious reports.

Bodden said that officers had been fielding calls and others were forced to attend the scene at Barkers where claims had been made that a body had been found. He said that the false reports are hurtful to Kerran’s family and they also hinder the real investigation.

“We need the investigators to channel their efforts into the real lines of enquiry,” Bodden said as he appealed to the community to stop being consumed by the marl road. He said he had no idea how yesterday’s rumour got started, but that it reached significant levels even though there was no truth to the claims that Kerran had been found. Bodden said that no matter how untruthful a report may be, until officers can be sure there is no truth to a rumour they still have to go and check out these false reports.

Bodden said that the false rumours impede the process of the real investigation and individuals may have many reasons for attempting to fuel false reports and slow down the police enquiry.

The senior officer said Kerran had not been found and there were still no updates regarding the investigation other than the fact that officers were continuing with the existing lines of enquiry.

Bodden revealed that the police have more than 60 hours worth of CCTV footage that has to be scrutinized inch by inch and that it is a painstaking and challenging process . He said four police officers were rotating on a shift system to view the tape to make sure that nothing was missed.

Kerran Natale Baker, a Jamaican national also known as KerryAnn, has lived and worked in Cayman for the last two years. She was last seen on CCTV footage at Foster’s Supermarket near the airport at 7pm on 30 July. Kerran was reported missing to the police on Sunday 31 July after a friend had visited her apartment and found half unpacked groceries on the counter in her apartment in Bodden Town alongside her handbag.

Her white car was discovered parked at Pedro St James around noon on Monday 1 August and the keys were found in the bushes around fifty feet away the following day.

Anyone who may have information on the whereabouts of Kerran is asked to call any of the local police stations, the crime hotline 949 7777, Wilmot Anthony Kerran’s father 321 4271 or Crime Stoppers at 800(TIPS) 8477.

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Monsters and Sharks tie while Wolverines slip by

| 17/08/2011 | 0 Comments

(GCFFA): Halfway through the Grand Cayman Flag Football Association Dart Women’s League, close-scoring games prove that each team is becoming increasingly competitive and privy to their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses. Last Saturday’s games saw the undefeated Domino’s Pizza Wolverines narrowly win over the Androgroup Killa-Panthers, with a final score of 13-6; and for the first time this season, there was a tie-game between the Lone-Star Jager Monsters and Hammerheads Lady Sharks, at 12-12. The phrase ‘defense wins games’ is proving to be true for the Androgroup Killa-Panthers, who, in the past two weeks, have managed to halt the offensive progress of the top two teams in the league.

Although the Killa-Panthers didn’t win their last two games, they did manage to stay right on the heels of the Wolverines and Lady Sharks, keeping both teams from accomplishing high-scoring games.

In the game against the Wolverines, the Killa-Panthers’ Christina Pineda and Lisa Malice exchanged quarterback duties. Pineda completed eight out of fifteen attempts, with two interceptions thrown. Malice was on target with six out of eight passes completed.

Leading the Killa-Panthers’ offense was Heather Roffey with six receptions, followed by
Caron Murphy with three. In the second half, the Killa-Panthers became the first team to score on the Wolverines this season, when Natalee Dyke ran a handoff into the end-zone, bringing the team within six points of the Wolverines, and fuelling their momentum.

Janique Samson had most of the action on defense, and a season high, with five tackles and an interception. Becky Coe, Gillian Roffey and Phillipa Knights each had two tackles, and Dyke added to the Killa-Panthers’ defense by sacking the Wolverines’ quarterback twice.

For the Wolverines, the chemistry was simply not flowing on the offensive line-up. Quarterback Antoinette Lewis was not her usual self, completing only twelve of twenty passes, including one for a touchdown. In an attempt to spark up the Wolverines’ offense, Dionne Whittaker stepped in with one out of five passes completed, making an important touchdown throw that brought the second score in for the Wolverines. Alexandra Terry also completed one of three attempts in the quarterback position.

Leading the offense for the first time this season was Jahzenia Thomas with five receptions. Terry, the constant target, had a quiettime on offense with three receptions.  Benecia Thompson and Saneata Smith each received touchdown passes and Christsania McLean brought in the extra point.

Defense also kept the Wolverines in the game with Alexandria Saintvil bringing in four tackles and one interception. Right behind Saintvil was Saneata Smith with three tackles and Shinette Rhoden also flew out of from the safety position to intercept a ball in the mid field. Agueda Broderick also chipped in with two sacks to the Killa-Panthers’ quarterback, while Thomas’ steady rush paid off, leading her to three sacks.

Interceptions and fumbles defined the second game with the Lone-Star Jager Monsters versus the Hammerheads Lady Sharks.  In the first half, it seemed as though the Sharks would make mince meat out of the Monsters as they stopped their opponents from barely moving the ball 15 yards down the field; however, the second half showed a different story, as the Monsters made some key plays, managing to tie the game and stop the Sharks from scoring again.

Missing their starting quarterback, Christina Hefner, the Monsters opted for rookie player Erica Bosch-Bone to fill in as quarterback. Bosch-Bone completed ten out of eighteen passes, with five interceptions thrown. Michelle McTaggart, who started off the season as the team’s quarterback before moving to receiver, helped out Bosch-Bone with four completed passes out of eight attempts, and one interception thrown.

Both quarterbacks spread the ball around, with Kristin Kipp, Melanie Lewis, and Michelle McTaggart each receiving three passes. Renee Thompson caught a high pass from Bosch-Bone in the end-zone, bringing in the first touchdown for the Monsters in the beginning of the second half.  Bosch-Bone managed to barely secure a second touchdown for the team as she ran the ball in, with what seemed to be a questionable dive into the end-zone.

The Monsters stayed in the game with their defensive stops. Thompson had an excellent game on defense, with six tackles and four interceptions. Christine Bisnauth, Monique Roberts, and Christina Ravdas each had three tackles, and Roberts also came up with an interception.

For the Lady Sharks, having five interceptions thrown between quarterbacks Bobeth O’Garro and Ellen Downey killed the team’s chances in the second half. O’Garro completed four out of ten passes, with two interceptions thrown, and made one incredible run past a slew of Monsters’ defenders to bring in the first touchdown for the Sharks. Downey completed twelve out of twenty passes, with three interceptions thrown, and one touchdown pass.

Serena Yates received six balls, followed by Lilia Connolly with four. Dionne Anglin and Kathy Miller each had two receptions, with Anglin catching a ball in the end-zone for a touchdown.

On defense for the Sharks, Connolly led the way with three tackles and two interceptions. O’Garro, Miller and Keisha Anglin each came up with an interception. Katherine Maw, Maggie Ebanks, and Miller also had two tackles each on defense.

During overtime, it looked as if O’Garro’s long pass to Dionne Anglin would bring the Sharks into the lead again, but the ball brushed Anglin’s fingertips and she couldn’t hold onto it for the crucial score. The Monsters were not as successful in their overtime drive to bring the ball near their goal line, and the ending result was a tie-game at 12-12.

This coming Saturday, 20 August at the Camana Bay Field sees the Lone-Star Jager Monsters versus the Domino’s Pizza Wolverines at 10am, followed by the Androgroup Killa-Panthers against the Pythons.

 

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