Archive for December 12th, 2011

Getaway not so clean for Tortuga robbers

| 12/12/2011 | 0 Comments

_DEW0535.jpg(CNS): Two men were apprehended by police and charged with the robbery of the Tortuga liquor store in West Bay because witnesses saw the men get into their getaway vehicles, according to the prosecution. A customer outside the store and a passing cyclist both saw the robbers as they tried to make their escape in separate cars the crown’s counsel, Kenneth Ferguson told the court Monday as the trial of Dennis Ebanks and John McLaughlin opened. The two men are accused of holding up the store in February of this year and stealing some $2000 at gunpoint.

Opening his case against both men for robbery and for possession of an imitation firearm against McLaughlin, the crown’s lawyer described how two masked men had held up the store popular with cruise visitors in the middle of the day.

Ferguson said that although the men were masked during the commission of the crime they were spotted getting into two cars across the street from the robbery by two separate witnesses who both called 911 and reported the details of the vehicles including license plates. The police were then able to track down the robbers and arrested them both for the crime.

The store is situated between the Turtle Farm, the Cayman Car Museum, a dolphinairium, the Cracked Conch restaurant and the Macabuca Tiki bar all of which are popular tourist locations. The hold-up took place on a day when there were four cruise ships in port.

The first witness called by the crown as the case opened was the sales clerk in the store on the day of the robbery who said the store had been very busy that day. She described how two masked men had entered the shop around lunch time. One of them who was wearing a black and white handkerchief over his face and carrying a silver gun pointed the weapon at her and asked for the money. She opened the cash register and the gunman told her to turn around and not look at him. She then heard the cash pan fall to the floor as the robbers then fled.

Although unhurt the clerk told the court that she was traumatized by the event and a fellow staff member at the store was the one who made the 911 call which coupled with the reports from the two witnesses outside led to the robbers both being apprehended by police shortly after the crime.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to the crime and have opted for a judge alone trial before Justice Charles Quin, the case continues tomorrow in courtroom five.

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DUI endemic, say cops

| 12/12/2011 | 66 Comments

_DSC3524-web.jpg(CNS): Drivers in Cayman are not taking the issue of drinking and driving seriously and many appear not to believe it is a crime, a senior police officer has said. In the last two weeks 17 people have been arrested on suspicion of DUI, despite the numerous police warnings about the dangers associated with drinking and driving. Chief Inspector Angelique Howell, the officer in charge of Operation Christmas Cracker, the RCIPS’ seasonal safety campaign said the disregard by drivers of police warnings demonstrates that drink driving is endemic on the Islands and is not seen by many as breaking the law. “Unfortunately so many people seem to drink and drive so often that they do not actually believe that they are doing anything wrong – it’s a way of life for them,” she said. (Photo Dennie Warren JR)

“But every time they have a drink then get behind the wheel of a car they are gambling with their own lives and the lives of other road users. I don’t know how many times we have to say that, and in how many different ways, before the message finally starts to get through,” Howell added.

Of those seventeen arrested during the last two weeks one was a 31-year-old man who was involved in the fatal road crash on EsterleyTibbetts Highway on 30 November, and another who crashed his truck into a tree as he approached a police road check in the Breakers area just after 12.30 Monday morning.

The man’s truck cut the tree in half and then dragged the debris onto the road, blocking it to other traffic. He then left the scene of the crash and drove through the police road check at speed. Officers followed the truck and the driver was arrested a short distance away on suspicion of DUI, leaving the scene of an accident and dangerous driving. The officers were also able to clear the tree from the road before any further accidents were caused.

Accepting that Christmas is a time for fun and celebration Howell saidthe police do not want to dampen the Christmas spirit but she warned people had to be responsible.

“Our clear position is that if you have just one drink your driving will be impaired and you should not drive. If you are planning a night out, designate a driver or get a taxi. But make sure that the designated driver commits to drinking soft drinks and will get you home safely at the end of the night,” the senior officer said as she reminded people that after a night of drinking they are not necessarily fit to drive the next morning either.

“Alcohol stays in your system for some considerable time – so don’t assume a shower and strong black coffee will sober you up enough to drive safely,” Howell warned.  “We have already lost one life on the roads since the start of this initiative; we do not want to lose any more. So, if nothing we say encourages drivers to act responsibly then I would ask them to think about what kind of Christmas Richard Martin’s family will have this year and every year for the rest of their lives. ”

The man charged in connection with the fatal crash on Esterley Tibbetts Highway is now on court bail. He has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving. He was also arrested on suspicion of DUI. Officers investigating the crash are awaiting results of blood tests. The results of those tests will determine if any further charges will follow.

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Police charge suspect in foiled cash bag heist

| 12/12/2011 | 4 Comments

(CNS): A 40-year-old man has now been charged withpossession of an imitation firearm with intent to rob, police confirmed Monday. Following the arrest of the man at Owen Roberts International Airport as he was attempting to leave the country police have now charged the suspect in connection with an attempted robbery of a cash van security guard outside a supermarket at the Countryside shopping village in Savannah. The man is accused of trying to steal a cash bag from the guard as he loaded cash from Fosters to his armoured van on 2 December at around 7:30 in the evening. The would-be robber was carrying what was believed to be a handgun as he approached the guard and demanded he hand over the cash bag.

The guard put up a fight foiling the suspect’s attempts to get the cash who ran off empty handed. Although the guard was shaken by the attack, he was not physically injured and no shots were fired.

Police arrested the suspect on Tuesday 6 December at the airport but his name and nationality have not yet been revealed.

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Burglaries on rise as police offer security tips

| 12/12/2011 | 14 Comments

It's sometimes just too easy! web (217x300).jpg(CNS): As part of the police seasonal anti-crime campaign, officers from the RCIPS were offering security tips at a live demonstration Monday to help home and business owners keep their premises safe. Chief Inspector Angelique Howell, the officer in charge of Operation Christmas Cracker, the RCIPS safety campaign and crime crackdown, said that burglaries had increased recently so home and business owners needed to focus more on securing their premises and stop themselves becoming victims. CI Howell also encouraged people to contact the police about starting neighbourhood watch schemes.

“We’ve noticed an increase in burglaries over the past few weeks and the main purpose of our focus on home and business security is to encourage people to think a bit more about how they secure their property and businesses against would-be criminals,” CI Howell said, adding that sometimes all it takes is for people to make a few simple changes to their routine and their security arrangements to reduce their chances of becoming victims.

She pointed out that burglars like to work quickly so she pointed to things people can do to slow down a prospective burglar and ultimately deter them.

Howell said residents need to lock windows and use deadbolts on doors and not to hide keys. She advised placing bars in the tracks or track locks on all sliding glass doors and windows while being careful not to impede emergency getaways. She advised people to leave lights on automatic timers and to store jewellery and other valuables in a safe hiding place, such as a safety deposit box.

The senior officer also told people not to say they are going away on answer-phone messages and to encourage neighbours to be nosey and watch out for each other’s homes. She encouraged people on extended vacations to make arrangements to have someone mow the lawn or trim bushes and to notify the local police station that they will be away.

“We are often asked what people should do if they arrive home to find that a door has been kicked in or a window has been smashed and they don’t know if a burglar is still inside,” CI Howell said. “Our advice is that you shouldn’t enter the house but should immediately call 911 either from your cell phone or from a neighbour’s home.”

Throughout this week officers will be visiting businesses to speak with owners and staff about how to stay safe during the festive season. Brochures and pamphlets will also be distributed to ensurethat members of staff who are not present will still have access to the all-important crime prevention advice. On Saturday, 17 December, RCIPS officers will be located outside supermarkets to provide shoppers with crime prevention information and advice.

If anyone wishes to speak to a police officer about home or business security, they should contact their local police station. Additional home and business security advice can be found on the RCIPS website www.rcips.ky

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CS get 3.2% for Christmas

| 12/12/2011 | 82 Comments

Christmas-bonus-200x300.jpg(CNS):  Full story  — Government is giving back the civil service cost of living allowance (COLA) that was taken from them in July 2010 in time for the December payroll. According to a memo sent by the acting deputy governor on Monday morning to heads of departments and chief officers, the premier's promise to return the 3.2% allowance to acknowledge the contribution of public sector workers in helping government cut costs will be in the pay packets of all civil servants before Christmas. The news that the government is giving back the COLA comes in the wake of revelations in the government's Strategic Policy Statement that it anticipates it will be facing a deficit of over $4.5 million by the end of this financial year rather than $12 million surplus government had predicted when it delivered this year's budget.

McKeeva Bush raised the issue of returning the allowance to civil servants this summer when the 2010/11 fiscal year ended with an unexpected surplus. The premier said he intended to use some of the cash to return the 3.2% to civil servants by September.  The reinstatement will not be back dated to September however but is starts from 1 December which will ensure the allowance is returned in time for Christmas.

Bush said in August that government had always intended to return the COLA as soon as the public finances were stabilized and although the last financial year had ended with a surplus, the latest predictions for this year are now calling for a deficit which represents a turnaround in government’s financial fortunes of more than $16 million.

Nevertheless the memo from Franz Manderson confirmed that the allowance was reinstated as a result of the hard work over the last eighteen months of the service in reducing government spending and the need to acknowledge those efforts especially at this time of year which can be a “cause of financial strain as much as seasonal joy,” he said.

The deputy governor noted however that the government finances were still in a difficult situation and urged the service to continue its work reducing costs and increasing efficiencies. He said the other measures which were implemented last year including overtime bans and other cost cutting measures would remain in place until June 2012.

The reinstatement was welcomed by the local civil service association especially as a result of the surge in the cost of living over the past couple of years to new heights.

“We take this as a sign that the government accounts have been strengthened through the many cuts the Civil Service has implemented over the last few years and from the plethora of cost saving suggestions and recommendations,” James Watler the president of the CICSA said in a statement released to the membership on Monday afternoon, adding that those recommendations made by members must have been taken on board and paid dividends.

He said the CICSA management council urged members to continue to keep their eyes on the bottom line, and to continue to find ways and means of economizing as he noted the vulnerable situation.

Watler thanked all the civil servants that had to accept a cut in pay but did not compromise the integrity of their work.

“You sacrificed professionally by cost cutting as well as personally doing more with less because of the salary cuts but also emotionally; finding ways to cope despite the high cost of living, the umbrage of persons in jobs even more exposed to the financial downturn than ours, many of whom do not appreciate how uncompetitive your monthly salary is compared to what you could be making in the private sector had you chosen a different career, and the other stresses that were compounded by this pay cut,” Watler stated. “You stepped up to the plate and made the sacrifice that you were called upon to make.”

He said the service’s acceptance of the cut which lasted for some 18 months despite the hardships placed on the members and their families spoke volumes on their commitment to the country.

 

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AG denies penal code changes threaten civil liberties

| 12/12/2011 | 12 Comments

Sam bulginAG_0.jpg(CNS): The attorney general has said that the changes to the Penal Code relating to disorderly conduct and gang activity will not catch up innocent people and are not a threat to civil liberties. Samuel Bulgin (left) told the Legislative Assembly that there needed to be a deterrence regarding anti-social behaviour, which he said everyone in the community recognised was becoming a problem.  He said zero tolerance ought to be embraced as he defended the changes to the law. Bulgin denied that they would allow the police to take trivial behaviour and criminalize people as gang members.

Amendments to the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code that increase sentences and fines for public order offences among other issues was passed in the Legislative Assembly during the latest sitting.

The attorney general said some of the fines in the law had not been amended for decades and the changes were designed to account for inflation. He said the other issues were to address gang problems and anti-social behaviour.

He said the legislators had their ears “close to the ground” and it was common knowledge that a lot of the problems in Cayman are caused by the gathering of unsupervised youngsters left to their own devices who create trouble, intimidation and harassment to law abiding citizens. Bulgin said they were getting involved in anti-social behaviour and eventually end up in the criminal justice system

The amendments gave the police a proactive approach to some of the problems the community is facing regarding gangs and enabled them to break-up the groups of unsupervised youngsters before they could cause trouble. He said this was a way of addressing the problems before those youngsters became criminal and reached the courts. The AG denied that it would interfere with civil liberties.

“We are trying as much as possible to balance civil liberties with law and order,” he told the Legislative Assembly during the recent debate. The AG said if there was any abuse of power people had a route of redress and if it created any real problems it could be revisited by legislators.

“We have heard these cries before. We heard the cries about … adverse inference and anonymous witnesses and it is quite legitimate for people to raise these concerns, but the proof is in the pudding,” he said, adding that these had worked “very well” and the court was another safeguard of civil liberties.

Bulgin said most of the changes to the Penal Code were to update the fines and penalties because many had not been addressed for many years, and it was as much about inflations as anything else. He said the amendments dealt only with maximums and the courts were not tied when it came to issues of drunk or disorderly offences in terms of leniency. The court can still impose a sentence of one day or ten days for disorderly conduct or other anti-social offences.

The opposition leader pointed to a number of concerns regarding civil liberty issues and said the definitions in the law were too broad or not defined at all as in the case of the introduction of a law against gross indecency. Alden McLaughlin warned that the vagrant offences may impact mental health patients, and as there was such a wide collection of definitions, he urgedattorney general to create separate offences to ensure the innocent would not be swept up in this new criminalization of anti-social behaviour.

See Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code amendments below.

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PPM colour banned from Christmas lights display

| 12/12/2011 | 79 Comments

xmas lights.PNG(CNS): The deputy premier's ministry has treated the people of Cayman Brac to a brand new display of Christmas lights in a remote and sparsely populated area of the Bluff. Costing an estimated $5,000, the display of blue, green and white lights decorates the new road and cabanas at the Agricultural Grounds off Songbird Drive. Conspicuously absent is the colour red — the colour of the PPM — from the light display. It was launched Tuesday 29 November, pre-empting and following a very similar programme to the traditional launch of Christmas on the island, the Cayman Brac Rotary Club's Tree Lighting Ceremony at Stake Bay, which takes place the first Monday in December each year. (Photo by James Tibbetts)

The building of the road to the Agriculture Grounds, which includes two roundabouts (the only ones on Cayman Brac) caused quite a stir earlier this year as the road is seldom used and was given priority over any roadwork done onthe main tourism area of the island.

The road was dubbed the "Grand Bluff Highway" in a CNS Viewpoint by Just Commentin', who described it as "a four-lane shiny black asphalt paved double carriageway with tree-planted medians, connecting cross-overs, and additional turning lanes at the end where it intersects the main road. It reminded me of the entrance and main throughfare to one of those ritzy Miami subdivisions. The only thing missing was the guy in a gold-buttoned uniform in a security booth at the entry gate. Off to the side all the trees had been leveled to make way for big paved parking areas."

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Impossible target for new funds registration

| 12/12/2011 | 0 Comments

too much work.jpg(CNS Business): Although CIMA says it has put in place the necessary infrastructure to deal with the issue, getting all 4,000 or so funds registered further to the recent amendments to the Mutual Fund law could take them years, not the three months mandated in law, say industry insiders. Local experts say that on present form, a lawyer can prepare up to two funds per day for registration – online or on paper – If they want to do it right. They estimate that a CIMA analyst could manage to register about the same number, possibly up to three a day. With 4,000 new funds to register, that equates to 2,000 "lawyer days" and 1,333 to 2,000 "analyst days".Read more on CNS Business

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