Archive for November 10th, 2011

Teen guilty of robbery

| 10/11/2011 | 12 Comments

(CNS): An 18-year-old boy, who was only 16 when he committed the crime, has been found guilty of robbing Mostyns Esso in Bodden Town last year but has been acquitted of attempting to murder a police officer. Following a judge alone trial that began almost one year ago, Elmer Wright finally discovered his fate on Thursday afternoonwhen the visiting judge who presided over his trial without a jury delivered his verdict. the teenager was also convicted of possession and use of an unlicensed firearm as well as possession of ammunition relating to the gas station heist and a shot fired at police officers who gave chase as the men fled the scene of the crime. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

Justice Smith stated that the prosecution had proved beyond all reasonable doubt that Wright was involved in the robbery and that he had been in possession of the weapon that had been fired as well as the ammunition and that he had fired that shotgun. The judge said he rejected the defendant’s claims that he had been with another man earlier that evening who had fired a weapon and had swapped jackets with him. During his evidence Wright had claimed that the gun belonged to Harryton Rivers who was shot and killed by a home owner during an attempted burglary one month after the Mostyns robbery.

The judge rejected his story and said the accused’s own evidence was contrived and incredible. “In short I reject his evidence in the main,” he said adding that he had clearly lied and not for any innocent reason.

“The prosecution evidence has shown beyond doubt that he was one of the robbers at the gas station,” the judge said as he pointed to the list of evidence against the defendant.
Justice Smith found that the crown had also established beyond doubt that Wright had fired the gun but he did not think it had proved that Wright intended to murder the police officer when he fired the weapon at the patrol car. The judge said the fact that the defendant had fired towards such a large target and had missed the vehicle completely created reasonable doubt and he could not be sure the defendant was attempting to kill anyone, as he acquitted him of that count.

Wright was one of three robbers who held up the Bodden Town gas station in June last year but he is the only one to have been arrested and charged. The three armed men threatened a female attendant in the store and one butted a customer with one of the rifles before they fled in a white car with over $1000 in cash. As they made their escape a routine police patrol car which was in the area spotted the robbers leaving the gas station and went in pursuit.

The two officers in the police patrol car who were unarmed followed the robbers’ getaway vehicle at high speed into Northward Road, where the suspects abandoned the car. Three men ran from the vehicle on foot but not before one of them had loaded his shotgun and fired at the police car.

The defendant was charged with robbery and attempted murder as the man who fired the shot at the police. When he was apprehended in Beach Bay road as he emerged from some bushes he was found to have over $300 in cash, including more than 30 single dollar bills, shotgun cartridges and gunshot residue on his clothes and hands. Police also found the shotgun close by to where Wright was arrested a short time later.

Wright's trial began in December 2010 but was adjourned before the crown closed its case in order for defence expert witnesses to examine the prosecution evidence. Despite being schedule to return in January, the case did not in the end resume until July, almost six months after it started.

The trial was completed by the end of July but as a result of work load and other issues the visiting judge was not able to deliver the verdict until this week when he returned to the jurisdiction from Jamaica.

The teenager, who is now facing a lengthy term of imprisonment and scheduled to be sentenced tomorrow morning, is still the only person police have charged in connection with the robbery, in which the shotgun and the car used in the crime were both stolen.

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U20 Women’s World Cup qualifying group is set

| 10/11/2011 | 0 Comments

11 womens.jpg(CIFA): The Cayman Islands under 20 National Team now know who they will face in the second and final stage of the Caribbean Football Union Qualifying round. After finishing second in the previous round, Cayman has now been drawn into a group with the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica. The final stage of this tournament will be held within the period 9-17 December 2011, or at latest 18-31 January 2012. The dates of Cayman’s fixtures and venue are still to be confirmed. Winners of Group E and Group F as well as the best runner-up chosen from the runners up of both groups will qualify to the CONCACAF Women’s U20 Tournament which will be held in March 2012. This is the final round ofQualifying for the World Cup Finals Tournament. 

The 2012 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup will be the 7th edition of the tournament. Only the world’s best sixteen teams from all six confederations will compete in the World Cup Finals. The tournament will take place in the summer of 2012 in Uzbekistan.

Women’s Technical Director Thiago Cunha is excited for the next round and believes that the girls are ready to compete. “The game that we played against Trinidad & Tobago in the previous round showed that we can compete with the best teams in this region, the girls learned a lot from that game and I am sure that experience will prove vital in the next set of games, the girls believe that they are good team and they believe that they can beat anybody, they are confident but very focused and they will continue to work together both on and off the field as they prepare”.

Fifteen year old Cayman striker Shanelle Frederick is confident that Cayman can advance to the final stage of qualification, “We are very excited about this draw, this is what we live for, we train and prepare for these big competitions and I know that I can speak for all the girls and say that we are ready to take on this challenge”.

The Women’s National team is currently training four times a week in the morning and in the evening as they prepare for the next round of competition. The majority of the squad also plays in the Cayman Islands Women’s Football League. 

CFU U20 World Cup Qualification Final Stage:

GROUP E                                
Cayman Islands                      
Dominican Republic              
Haiti                                          
Jamaica                                    

Group F
Cuba
Puerto Rico
Trinidad & Tobago
Guyana

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Crown files appeal on child murder verdict

| 10/11/2011 | 1 Comment

Devon.JPG(CNS): Officials from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) office have confirmed that the crown has filed an appeal against the not guilty verdict in the trial of Devon Anglin for the murder of four-year-old Jeremiah Barnes. The West Bay man was tried in August by Justice Howard Cooke, who sat alone without a jury. The judge acquitted Anglin when he rejected the eye-witness evidence of the child’s parents, Dorlisa and Andy Barnes, who both said Anglin was the man who opened fire on their car at the Hell gas station in West Bay in February 2010.  Police say that Andy Barnes was the intended victim on the night as a result of a feud between him and Anglin.

In his ruling the judge said he had found that there were too many inconsistencies between the Barnes’ evidence as well as with that of a gas pump attendant who was also a witness to the shooting on the evening in question, and returned his not guilty verdict.

In the wake of the verdict, Police Commissioner David Baines described the acquittal as a sad day for justice and stated that he wished for the DPP to seek an appeal as quickly as possible. The grounds on which the DPP has based the appeal have not yet been revealed but the prosecutors will need to find that the judge has erred in his judgment of the law in some respect for it to be upheld.

The appeal will not be heard before the next session of the appeal court, which begins later this month, and the next ordinary session is expected to sit sometime in the spring. The law does provide for an emergency sitting of the higher court.

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Fears TLEPs will get status

| 10/11/2011 | 68 Comments

(CNS): Although government has stated that work permit holders who take advantage of the new Term Limit Extension Period to avoid rollover will not be allowed to apply for PR, fears are mounting that this could easily be challenged and eventually see thousands of people granted status as a result. Sherri Bodden-Cowan has denied that this will happened and any suggestion is scaremongering. The TELP allows workers who were due to leave the island under the seven year limit to stay for another two years subject to the usual conditions but the law says they cannot apply for residency and will not be able to use this permit as a road to status.

The United Democratic Party government is still haunted by the mass 3,000 status grants handed out during its first term in office in 2003. The grants were a consequence of many people living and working in the islands for years without rights, which the UK government forced the Cayman government to address.The government was blamed, however, for the surge in new Caymanians who would become entitled to vote, not just because of the numbers but because of the way the grants were awarded.

There are now concerns that the issue of legal and human rights to residency after a given period may raise its head again with the workers who are granted a TELP, some of whom will have been living in Cayman for more than nine years when their new permit expires.

Ezzard Miller, who is the only politician in the Legislative Assembly now that believes the seven year work permit limit or rollover should remain, says that the fears regarding a surge in status grants down the line are not without foundation.

The TELP could eventually lead to the need to grant thousands of worker permit holders permanent residency, he said, which will in time see them gain Caymanian status and if they wish they can then become naturalized and go on to vote.

“The fear is that anyone who is granted a TELP will be able to apply for PR, despite government claims, as it is very likely to be challenged,” Miller said. Many thousands of people who would have been rolled over are now in a position to apply for the new extension, and just one successful challenge to government’s claim that they do not have the right to apply for PR could see a flood of applications, many of which are bound to meet the PR criteria.

Miller said that this could see another surge in the electoral roll for the 2017 election, way beyond the normal 500 or so that Cayman’s voter’s list generally increases by each election cycle.

The independent member for North Side has stated that his concerns remain the same as they always have. Rollover was never really intended to create jobs for Caymanians but was to protect the indigenous population’s control of the political landscape and from a takeover by foreign nationals. He said that the introduction of TELP could undermine that protection.

Miller has consistently stated that it is “incompetent government’ and the high cost of doing business that has caused Cayman’s economic difficulties and that the idea that immigration policy is preventing the country from attracting ‘high net worths’ or investors, as claimed by both the premier and Anthony Travers at the recent Generation Now debate, is a red herring.

“The government has made numerous amendments to the immigration bill since it came to office offering automatic PR to those investing money here. Most recently the government has stated that anyone who invests more than $500,000 in a new home will automatically get PR,” he added.

He said he believes that the rollover policy would have worked to protect Caymanians in the workplace as well if it had not been constantly watered down.  Miller added that for years Cayman has constantly moved the goal posts when it comes to immigration to accommodate the needs of overseas workers but every time “they still want more”; no matter the change it is never enough.

“It doesn’t matter what we do, people will demand we change it,” he said. “From the start with the introduction of the Caymanian Protection Board the law was amended allowing more and more and more people to stay. It is not Caymanians that are asking for rollover to be suspended.”

Miller said that many people who come to Cayman to work say they don’t want citizenship or the right to vote until they “pass the magic day” and then, he said, naturally they want to become Caymanian.

“If we don’t roll people out, we will be forced by international laws to give citizenship,” he told the audience at the recent Generation Now discussion on rollover.

Bodden-Cowan, chair of the IRT who is also leading the current review of rollover, said Miller was scaremongering. “There is nothing in the current immigration law that will allow Cabinet to grant status. It is scaremongering to suggest that massive status grants will follow these changes,” she added.

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Gangs targeted in new law

| 10/11/2011 | 24 Comments

(CNS): Anyone who is found guilty of being a member of a gang engagedin criminal activity could face twenty years in jail under proposed changes to the penal code, even if they have not been found guilty of other criminality. The amendments to the criminal procedure and the penal codes are due to come before legislators this month and are aimed at giving the authorities greater powers to deal with gangs. Among the many changes, police will also be giventhe power to force anyone they believe is suspected of a crime to remove anything that may conceal their identity such as hoodies, bandanas or sun glasses.

In the wake of the September spate of gang violence, when five young men were killed over a period of eight days, police officials spoke of the inadequacy of existing gang legislation as there have never been any prosecutions in Cayman under that part of the penal code. Police Commissioner David Baines said he hoped that the law could be changed to increase the powers of the police to control what they suspect is gang activity. 

Under the new proposals, government intends to amend section 231 of the law to read that a person who is “a member of a gang; or participates in or contributes to the activities of a gang knowing that any or all of the members of the gang engage in or have, within the preceding three years, engaged in the commission of a series of serious offences, is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of five hundred thousand dollars and to imprisonment for twenty years."

Gangs will be defined as three or more people in any group, association or other body whether formally or informally organised that has crime as one of its primary activities.

The new law will allow police greater powers of control and arrest in neighbourhoods where gang activity or anti-social behavior is taking place and remove from the streets anyone they suspect is a gang member or who has harassed or threatened anyone in the community.

Police will also be allowed to ask people to remove items that they believe may conceal a suspect’s identity and to use reasonable force if they refuse.  The proposed law states: “A police officer may in any public place, stop a person and – (a) require that person to remove any item which the police officer reasonably suspects that person is wearing to obscure or conceal his identity; or (b) seize any item which that person has and which the police officer reasonably suspects that person has for the purpose of obscuring or concealing his identity.”

The law will allow the police to “use reasonable force, if necessary, in the exercise of the powers” conferred and arrest anyone who refused to take off the item in question.

With few of Cayman’s gang members supporting specific identifying tattoes or colours, the police have more difficulty in defining criminal gang members and arresting them. As a result, law enforcement officials said they need to find other powers of arrest to allow them to arrest gang members and remove them from the streets in an effort to reduce gang violence.

The police have also asked politicians to examine the law in relation to the right to search a property or car where they believe guns may be concealed without a warrant in the same way that the law currently allows for them to search premises without a warrant for drugs but no amendments have yet been proposed regarding firearms.

See penal code amendment bill below

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