Archive for January 15th, 2012

West Bay man pleads not guilty to nightclub stabbing

| 15/01/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Twenty year old Dan Kelly from West Bay has denied stabbing another man during a fight inside a West Bay Road nightclub in December. The West Bay man was granted bail following his not guilty plea to the charge of grievous bodily harm by Justice Alex Henderson as he said the crown had presented nothing more than a “bare allegation” against the defendant who has been in custody since his arrest on 12 December. Although Kelly admits he was at Club 7 on the night the victim says he was stabbed the West Bay man denied being in a fight with the man or stabbing him.

The accusation against Kelly is based on a seven line statement issued by the 36 year old victim who says he knows Dan Kelly, only hours after he had received abdominal surgery, following the stabbing at the club. The crown said that Kelly made an unprovoked attack on the victim stabbing him twice for “no reason,” the court heard.
Kelly’s defence attorney however said there are no witnesses and no forensic evidence that her client was involved in the fight. He gave a full statement to the police on arrest denying the charge.

The victim had not called the police at the time of the stabbing which allegedly occurred inside Club 7 at around 2am. The police were called by hospital staff after the victim turned up suffering from two stab wounds andseeking treatment at the Cayman Islands hospital.

Continue Reading

Customs silent over enquiries

| 15/01/2012 | 52 Comments

(8636049.jpgCNS): With several customs officers suspended, some sacked, others under investigation overseas and one facing serious drug charges in the local courts, government officials have still made no comment about the problems that the critical department appears to be facing. At least five officers are facing accusation that range from turning a blind eye on customs fraud to gun and drug smuggling, but government has remained tight lipped on the issue relating to any of the allegations against customs officers or any enquiries into the alleged wrongdoing. The department bosses have given no indication over what, if anything, is being done to address the problems of apparent corruption in one of government’s highest revenue generating departments. 

CNS submitted a number of questions to government officials about the department in order to clarify the current situation and the speculation that even more officers may have been fired but none of the questions have been answered.

According to other sources, CNS understands that at least one officer may be under investigation in the US in connection with a gun smuggling operation in which Caymanian Brandon Leslie was recently arrested.  Another is due to appear in Summary Court this week charged with importing as much as two pounds of cocaine, while a third officer has been linked to a major drug smuggling investigation in the UK in which Caymanians were also arrested.

Two other officers are also believed to be on required leave as a result of customs fraud cases involving the importation of legal goods but where reduced duties had been illegally applied.

It appears that the various investigations surrounding the customs officers all relate to separate incidents but it is not clear if the issues are part of an organised attempt to corrupt customs officials, an endemic problem in the department or merely coincidental cases of rogue officers.  Despite the major public interest in explaining what is being done about what on the surface appear to be serious problems in the department, officials have remained silent.

As well as being an important barrier to the importation of unwanted items such as guns and drugs, the customs department is also one of the most important government departments when it comes to the public coffers and coercive revenue. The customs department is responsible for collecting duties on imported goods coming into the Cayman Islands, from motor vehicles to kitchen appliances, which accounts for around a quarter of government earnings. 

Continue Reading

Key offshore legislation in works to boost sector

| 15/01/2012 | 0 Comments

jennings.jpg(CNS Business): The Financial Services Legislative Committee is currently working on a number of amendments to existing legislation and new bills that will boost the industry, the chair of the committee has revealed. Charles Jennings, who is chair of the specially created committee, said several major legislative projects were underway that would put the Cayman Islands back at the forefront of the offshore financial sector. He said revisions to the Companies and Exempted Limited Partnership laws and several brand new laws to establish vehicles such as portfolio insurance companies, limited liability partnerships, limited liability companies, foundations and others are all in the works. Read more on CNS Business

Continue Reading

RCIPS staffer gets legal aid in corruption case

| 15/01/2012 | 0 Comments

data_2.jpg(CNS): The first case under the new anti-corruption law that will be heard in the Grand court had been delayed as the RCIPS staffer who is the first person to be charged under the law was refused legal aid the court heard Friday. Patricia Webster who was working as a receptionist at a police station when she reportedly abused police confidentiality was denied government funding because crimes under the new law have not yet made the legal aid schedule. Webster’s defence attorney pointed out that given the gravity of the charges which could result in a maximum sentence of ten years she needed representation. 

Having established that Webster met the means test Justice Alex Henderson granted the legal aid request allowing the attorney to begin work on the case load. The case was adjourned until 3 February when Webster is expected to formally answer the charges against her.

Webster was arrested in October following an investigation by the RCIPS own anti-corruption team and has been charged with two counts of abuse of public office and two charges of misconduct in a public office contrary to section 17 of the anti-corruption law 2008.The specific details of the charges have not yet been made public but the RCIPS has said the counts relate to confidential police data.

Continue Reading

Brackers get busy counting endangered iguanas

| 15/01/2012 | 10 Comments

brac iggy (236x300).jpg(CNS): Despite being an endangered species, there has never been a survey of the rock iguanas on Cayman Brac until now. Usually in the shadow of its blue cousin on Grand Cayman, this month the Brac iguanas have become the centre of intense focus as the Department of Environment began an in depth population survey of this unique sub-species of Cuban rock iguanas, found only on the Brac and Little Cayman. Some twenty researchers and volunteers are involved and the current total is 63 is climbing as a result of the help coming from Brackers, in particular school children who have become involved in the spotting process.

Experts working on the project said that as the Sister Islands iguana is an endangered species, means of conservation can only come through education and habitat preservation. The informaiton gathered during the survey will better inform conservation efforts aimed at ensuring a healthy population of iguanas on Cayman Brac in future years.

The rock iguana faces many of the same problems of its famous blue relative, including the impact of development such as more roads and sub-divisions as well as feral dogs and cats, plus speeding cars, which have all taken their toll.

Researchers were suprised by the number so far however, and iguana reports continue to flow into the hotline: 917-7744. Once a call is made a team of researchers are swiftly dispatched to the location where the iguana in question – which is hopefully still close by – is caught and then a comprehensive data collection process is carried out.

First the iguana is measured and weighed. Then it is scanned to see if it has an identification microchip already implanted. If not, one is inserted. The gender of the reptile is then checked, and this is followed by the attachment of an external tag. Finally, a number is painted using whiteout on its side. The whiteout will eventually disappear, but the microchip will remain active for life, allowing the life span of the iguana to be monitored on a regular basis. When the processing has been completed, the iguana is released back into the habitat where it was found. Photographs of the habitat are taken and added to the data file which is being completed on each animal.

The first part of the survey is expected to be completed by the end of January but volunteers will return later in the year to observe and record both the mating and the birthing of future populations.  Reports of new finds or any mortalities will all be added to the data collected

Volunteers comprise many Brackers, especially members of the Brac National Trust, as well as volunteers from throughout the US under the auspices of the International Reptile Conservation Foundation (IRCF), which has also been supporting the program.

brac iguanna count.JPGFor some who have been involved for several years with the blue iguana programme on Grand Cayman, this is their first visit to the Brac. Several young Brackers are also being trained in the survey techniques and will be able to carry on the process when the overseas volunteers have returned home. One young Caymanian, Jerrica Wood (pictured right) from Bodden Town, also took part in the study as part of her practicum for her studies in Integrated Wildlife Conservation at University of the West of England.

(Photo by Martin Keeley)

Continue Reading

Tourism board clamps down on craft market

| 15/01/2012 | 44 Comments

cruising-grand-cayman-028L.jpg(CNS): Reports of improper conduct by vendors, poor customer service and the sale of unauthorised products at the Cayman craft market has led to the Tourism Attraction Board instigating a new set of rules. The code of conduct prohibits the use of profane or threatening language or behaviour at the market and addresses basic service standards that vendors should provide to all customers, the board said. It also reinforces the kinds of art and craft items and that can be sold at the market. In view of the Department of Tourism’s marketing campaign, Gilbert Connolly the CEO of TAB said vendors had to ensure that all visitors to the market enjoyed a courteous, pleasant, beneficial and ‘Caymankind’ experience.

Although the TAB officials were not specific about the complaints or the vendors that had been complained about all licensed stall holders will be required to sign the document and agreed to be bound by the new rules which have arisen as a result of what were described as “persistent issues at the market.”

The vendors at the Cayman Craft Market on Boilers Road, located in downtown George Town were presented with the revised and updated ‘Code of Conduct’ last week by the board’s chief executive officer and Jeán-Eric Smith, the craft market manager at a special meeting. The document is designed to regulate the conduct of business at the market, how stall holders behave and what can be sold at the location the officials said.

“The Board was committed to maintaining the mission and integrity of the market, as a truly Caymanian enterprise that provides visitors with authentic representations of local art, culture and heritage,” Connolly said in a release about the meeting.

He said that the vendors are representatives of the Cayman Islands tourism industry and must conduct themselves as such but he said the code was also there to protect the licensed stall holders rights as well as guidelines on how to behave.

Smith said he welcomed the code as he said it reflected the growth of the Craft Market. “Hopefully, this kind of entrepreneurial tourism initiative will be more passionately embraced by Caymanian artisans as a means of showcasing and selling their creations,” he said.

Ivolyn Thomas, who operates Ivy’s Cayman Treats at the market for the past five years, said she was behind the code 100 percent because of the impact the vendors can have.

“The vendors here at the Craft Market are some of the first people that cruise tourists meet in the Cayman Islands and the first impression is very important. This is not only our business; it’s the country’s tourism and if we do not conduct ourselves properly, we lose and the country will lose,” she added.

The code will apply equally to all those using the market and they were all given copies to study over the week following the meeting. This week all the vendors licensed to sell at the market will be required to sign the document, signifying their agreement and legal obligations to comply with the new rules.

The Tourism Attraction Board has management responsibility for the Cayman Craft Market and other tourism-related properties including the Queen Elizabeth 11 Botanic Park, Pedro St. James Castle, Hell, as well as the annual Pirates Week Festival.

Continue Reading

Free dives on offer in monthly lionfish cull

| 15/01/2012 | 0 Comments

sam-with-lion-fish (254x300).jpg(CNS):As part of the islands collaborative effort to fight the increasing numbers of lionfish in Cayman waters Red Sail Sports are beginning a monthly one tank dive on the last Saturday of the every month for volunteers who are already trained to catch the marine invader. Starting this month (28 January) the dives will be free of charge and the fish caught will be cleaned and delivered to the fish market at Foster’s Food Fair on Monday morning where the supermarket hopes it will become a regular choice for local cooks. “If weather conditions permit, the first dives will hunt for Lionfish on the lesser-dived reefs of the island’s North Side and East End where they have thrived,” said Rod McDowall Red Sail Sports Operations Manager.

“For some time now operators have been culling the reefs on the West Side where Grand Cayman’s most popular dive sites are located,” he added.

Lionfish arrived in Cayman waters about three years ago and they continue to multiply and threaten smaller reef fish. Originally from the Pacific Ocean and popular as aquarium fish, lionfish are colorful with venomous spikey tentacles. First spotted in Florida waters in 1985, the population of the voracious predator has exploded in recent years and spread throughout the Caribbean.

To control this marine pest, conservation groups are encouraging fishermen and divers to catch lionfish and eat them as the filet is light, delicately flavored and very good eating. Fosters Food Fair has contributed $20,000 to the cause for dive expenses and a portion of the fish sold at the market will go back into an operational fund to keep the lionfish dives going. A lionfish cookbook featuring 45 recipes is now available.

The one-tank dives will take place the last weekend of each month, and they are free for volunteers who are properly trained to spear the lionfish or catch them with nets.  Lionfish “spotters” are also needed. 

Red Sail Sports will provide all necessary equipment for the roundup. To sign up for the lionfish dive or to know more about getting certified to hunt and spear them, call Red Sail Sports at 949-8745.  For more information call the Red Sail Sports main office at 623.5965, e-mail: info@redsailcayman.com or visit www.redsailcayman.com.  Spearing of any other fish on Scuba in the Cayman Islands is prohibited and a violation of the Cayman Islands Marine Conservation Laws.

Continue Reading

Man robbed of cash bag outside own home

| 15/01/2012 | 12 Comments

Crime-Scene.jpg(CNS): Two men armed with a gun and a knife robbed a victim of a cash bag as he arrived at his home in the early hours of Sunday morning. Police are now investigating the incident the third robbery of 2012 after receiving a report of the mugging in Palm Dale, George Town at around 2:06 am this morning. The man told police that as he reached the outside of his house he was approached by the two men two men who stole the bag containing an undisclosed sum of cash. The victim said that the men both had their faces covered and no descriptions were given to the investigating officers. No shots were fired and no-one was injured in the robbery before the armed men escaped the scene on foot.

Anyone who was in the area at the relevant time and anything before the robbery, or the men fleeing the scene, is asked to contact George Town CID on 949-4222. Information can also be passed via the RCIPS Tip-line 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477(TIPS).

 

Continue Reading