Archive for January 16th, 2012

Teen IDs Jeffers as gunman

| 16/01/2012 | 0 Comments

Jeffers.jpg(CNS): Seventeen-year-old Adryan Powell told the Grand Court on Monday afternoon that Raziel Jeffers was one of the gunmen that opened fire on him in a yard in Bonaventure Road, West Bay, some two and a half years ago. The teenager, who was one month shy of his 15th birthday on the evening he was shot multiple times, is now confined to a wheelchair as a result of the injuries he suffered during the shooting.  Powell, who was one of three youngsters gunned down by the two masked shooters that night, including 20-year-old Marcus Ebanks who was killed, said he was 100 percent certain Jeffers had shot him as the mask he wore had slipped from his face.

The prosecution’s case against 28-year-old Raziel Jeffers of West Bay is that he was one of two men who, according to forensics, were armed with a least three guns when they indiscriminately opened fire on a group of boys and young mentalking in the West Bay yard at around 7:30pm on 8 July 2009. The men also gunned down the murder victim’s teenage brother, Rod Ebanks, who received four gunshot wounds but later recovered from his injuries.

As the Grand Court trial opened on Monday Jeffers was charged with one count of murder and four counts of attempted murder as well as possession of an unlicensed firearm in connection with the shooting. The crown claims that on the evening in question Jeffers’ target was not Ebanks but Jose Sanchez, who was a member of an opposing West Bay gang and a man with whom Jeffers also had a significant personal dispute in relation to his former and current girlfriends.

Although he was the target, Sanchez, who was the first to see the sudden arrival of the two gunmen on the night of the shooting, managed to escape to the safety of the house before the shooters opened fire, said Andrew Radcliffe, QC, prosecuting counsel for the crown.

As he presented an outline of the crown’s case against Jeffers, Radcliffe told the court that the prosecution would show through motive, forensic evidence, telephone records, a confession to his girlfriend and Adryan Powell’s identification that the defendant was one of the gunmen who shot and killed Marcus Ebanks and tried to kill the other men in a joint criminal enterprise.

In the long and detailed opening statement to Justice Charles Quin, who is presiding over the case alone without a jury, Radcliffe said it would show the court that Jeffers had met with a man in Scranton, George Town, shortly before the shooting to collect the weapons which the two of them used in the crime.

The crown counsel named the man as Osborne Douglas, who has not been charged in connection with the shooting.

The attorney said telephone records would show that Jeffers then drove back from George Town to West Bay, where he then shot the young men in the yard before making his escape via Scranton to an address in Bodden Town, where he was arrested in the early hours of the next morning.

Radcliffe said that gunshot residue (GSR) was found on a packet of cigarette papers taken from Jeffers when he was arrested at a house in Frederick Street. However, no other traces of GSR or firearms were found at the time of his arrest.

The attorney told the court that the defendant was released on bail soon after the arrest and it was not until several months later that Jeffers’ former girlfriend, Megan Martinez, told police that he had confessed to being one of the gunmen when they were still together.

The crown said the witness would also testify that, prior to the confession, Jeffers had told her on the night in question that he was going to Scranton to meet "Ozzy" and the two of them were “going fishing”, a term, Radcliffe said, that had nothing to do with the sea but implied he was going to look for his enemies.

The prosecuter said other witnesses would testify that Jeffers had bragged about beating up Sanchez and that it was time to start killing some of the opposing gang members.

Radcliffe added that Jeffers, as a member of the Birch Tree Hill gang, already had a factional animosity towards Sanchez, who is a member of the Logwoods gang, as a result of the war between the two West Bay groups. Added to that existing animosity, when Jeffers discovered that Sanchez had begun a sexual relationship with a former girlfriend of his while she was still with him, the dispute turned personnel, the crown said, and it was further compounded when Sanchez assaulted Martinez, the woman Jeffers was living with at that time.

The crown counsel took the judge through a detailed review of the phone evidence, which it said would corroborate the evidence that Martinez was expected to give as well track Jeffers' movements on the night of the killing and place him close to the murder scene.

Powell, who is now confined to a wheelchair, began his evidence around 3pm Monday afternoon via a live video link. He described how he had gone to the house in Bonaventure Road that evening to wait for another friend who had borrowed his bike, and how as he was chatting with the other young man the two masked gunmen had suddenly arrived at the yard and opened fire.

He told the court that he was struck down by one of the bullets and he had tried to run away, and as he went down he was also hit in the face. The teenager was to receive multiple gunshots during the indiscriminate firing but he remained conscious as he lay on the ground. He told the court that one of the gunmen went past him as he lay in the yard wounded. Powell said he believed even at that point it was Jeffers who had shot him because he had known him for more than two years from the district of West Bay and from playing football.

When the gunman then spun around and looked directly down on Powell, the mask he was wearing fell down exposing Jeffers’ face to the teen, who said they looked at each other for a few seconds before he readjusted the mask and moved away. Certain who it was, Powell told the court that after looking at his assailant he lay his face back down and played dead.

The case continues in court two tomorrow morning, when the defence will begin its cross-examination of the crown’s primary witness.

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Cabinet approves techy zone

| 16/01/2012 | 50 Comments

CEC-Special-Economic-Zone-3.jpg(CNS): Although the creators of Cayman's first ever special economic zone (SEZ) have not yet revealed where the much anticipated science and technology park will eventually be located, the government has approved the order naming Cayman Enterprise City as the developer. This means that CEC can now take advantage of the benefits and concessions prescribed in the SEZ law even before the first phase of the techy park is built. Cabinet approved the order on Tuesday 10 January and officials said Monday that it would be gazetted in a few weeks. The law will pave the way for CEC to create what it has said will be a multi-phase development that will have some six different campuses catering to IT, science, media, bio-technology, commodities as well as academic and research companies.

The developers have stated that the first phase will cover 150,000 sq ft and that it was meant to break ground in the first quarter of this year but so far no location has been revealed.

The development proposal has been broadly welcomed in the community as a result of the focus on attracting modern technologies but as yet the developer has not revealed if any of the tenants they hope to attract have agreed to relocate to Cayman. CEC has said it will create some 800 jobs in its first year but so far it has created 20.

In the wake of Cabinet’s decision to issue the order for the creation of the zone, the premier said he was pleased with the progress of Cayman Enterprize City. “Government and CEC have worked well together in order to move this particular special economic zone forward professionally and quickly,” McKeeva Bush stated in a release from his ministry.  "I'm particularly pleased that already, CEC has hired more than 20 staff, 70% of which are Caymanians. This is a great indication that government’s policy to make the right climate for investment is working."

The first meeting of the Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZA), which is responsible for enforcement of policy and oversight of this, the first zone of its kind, and any future zones took place on 14 December. The Department ofCommerce and Investment (DCI), in the Ministry of Finance, is secretariat for the SEZA. In this role DCI is responsible for the authority’s daily administration, including carrying out its functions and record keeping of all meetings, proceedings and decisions.

The members of the new authority were also revealed in the release by ministry officials and they are:
Chairman David Kirkaldy
Deputy Chairman Marcus Cumber
Director Jason Blick (CEO, CEC)
Director Glen Daykin
Director Director of Commerce & Investment (or designate)
Director Collector of Customs (or designate)
Director Chief Immigration Office (or designate)
Director Director of Planning (or designate)
Director Director of Labour (or designate)
Director Chief Surveyor (or designate)

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One charged in jewel heist

| 16/01/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The police have now charged a 34-year-old George Town man with a violent broad daylight jewellery shop robbery a few days before Christmas. The man who has yet to be named has been charged with a list of crimes including robbery, handling stolen property, possession of criminal property, theft of a motor vehicle, arson and driving whilst disqualified. The incident took place at the Magnum Jewellery store in a busy downtown George Town on 22 December at around 11.20 am. The man with along with two other accomplishes smash into display cases at the front of the open store in Cardinal Avenue with axes and grabbed a selection of high end jewellery.

Police arrested the suspect who was due to appear in court on Monday following a police operation in the Windsor Park area of George Town on Wednesday 10 January when a quantity of jewellery was also recovered.

Following the robbery the three man had fled in a stolen Rav 4 vehicle which was later found burnt out a short time later in Wahoo Close, George Town. The men were then believed to have escaped in a maroon SUV.

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One charged in jewel heist

| 16/01/2012 | 0 Comments

magnum robbery.jpg(CNS): The police have now charged a 34-year-old George Town man with a violent broad daylight jewellery shop robbery a few days before Christmas. Julio Newball has been charged with a list of crimes including robbery, handling stolen property, possession of criminal property, theft of a motor vehicle, arson and driving whilst disqualified. The incident took place at the Magnum Jewellery store in a busy downtown George Town on 22 December at around 11.20 am. The man along with two other accomplices smashed into display cases at the front of the open store in Cardinal Avenue with axes and grabbed a selection of high end jewellery.

Police arrested Newball, who was due to appear in court on Monday, following a police operation in the Windsor Park area of George Town on Wednesday 10 January when a quantity of jewellery was also recovered.

Following the robbery the three man had fled in a stolen Rav 4 vehicle, which was later found burnt out a short time later in Wahoo Close, George Town. The men were then believed to have escaped in a maroon SUV.

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CBO and CNS lets public have its say on politics

| 16/01/2012 | 0 Comments

CBO.gif(CNS Business): In an attempt to gauge the public’s view on governance, transparency and politics in general, CNS Business has partnered with the organisers of this week’s Cayman Business Outlook conference and offers readers the chance to have their say anonymously on the subject in a specially devised poll. Results from the poll will then be put to a panel of local speakers at the conference, which will be held this Thursday at the Westin Casuarina Resort & Spa. Readers who would like to submit questions to the panel can do so anonymously as comments on CNS Business.

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Accounting for the cash

| 16/01/2012 | 17 Comments

How governments collect and spend public cash is one of the key issues on which they are judged, but here in the Cayman Islands no one really knows how this or the previous administration actually spent our money. As the UDP approaches the last year of this government, the voters still don’t have access to any meaningful account of how it has actually spent the people’s cash or how successful it has been at collecting what it is owed.

In his latest update on the state of government accounting, the auditor general went very easy on the government. No doubt exhausted by the efforts to try and have it produce anything at all that accounts for what it is doing with the money it collects from the people, and not wishing to undermine the relatively minor step forward of meeting accounting deadlines for the first time in eight years, he offered praise and encouragement.

Sadly, however, the failure of government to account for how it has collected and spent our money means that once again when the voters go to the polls in May 2013 they will not really have a clue how the people they are voting for will spend the cash they collect from them. They won’t know where government has failed to collect what’s owed and whether they are wasting cash. They won’t know where money has been well spent and provided a positive outcome because what little information comes from government cannot be relied upon or is meaningless.

Despite claims by government that public finances are being addressed and that it is catching up when it comes to genuine accountability to the people, this is simply not true.

Of the 38 entities that are obligated to produce annual reports only eight — yes, eight — have been made public for even the first financial year in office of the current government. Of those eight only four statutory authorities have unqualified reports that the public can rely on; the other four have qualified reports, which means the auditor general could not be sure that the information supplied in the reports was accurate or credible. So today there are in existence only four statutory authority reports that tell the people how public cash was spent in the financial year from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010. In essence the entire public spending since the government took office with these four exceptions – CIMA, the ERA, CINICO and the Turtle Farm — remain a mystery.

Consequently, some 16 months away from an election the people have no idea how the current government has fared when it comes to spending the people’s money or collecting it.

Has government spent enough on education, not enough on crime fighting, too much on roads or too little on the poor? Has it collected customs from all the right people? Are fees still outstanding and why? Are collection systems themselves efficient? Should government spend less on collecting money or more money to ensure everyone pays their dues?

Legitimate questions about public finances are the most basic reasons why one group of politicians is voted in over another. It will be impossible for any voter in the Cayman Islands to have an accurate idea when they go to the polls how the representatives they are about to vote for will spend their cash. 

Often politicians may say they are spending money on one thing and collecting from another as declared in the budget, but the budget documents are a wish list not a reality and difficult for the man in the street to properly interpret .

Unless the people can see and understand clearly the actual amounts collected and the actual amounts spent and the reasons, they cannot make an informed decision when they go to the polls.

The issue of government finance is not about meeting deadlines and obeying the requirements of the law. The Public Management and Finance Law was passed to make government account for how it spends the people’s money – our money not theirs, ours.  The annual reports should be telling the people what each government department spent and why but the failure of government to produce them year after year after means the government is simply unaccountable to its employers.

When a government is voted into office we trust those people to collect and spend the money wisely or at the very least as it claimed it would during its election campaign. Even the richest governments do not have an infinite supply of public cash and even in the best of times must make decisions about spending in line with the wishes of the majority. During global recession how the money comes in and goes out is even more fundamental to the voter’s decision.

Given the persistent failure of government to give the people a true and meaningful account of want it has done with the public’s money (that the people can actually understand) means every single voter is handicapped at the polls. The Cayman electorate is notable to make an informed choice about which government they can trust to spend their money in the way they want.

In the end, that’s not democracy.

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Robbers hit West Bay house

| 16/01/2012 | 23 Comments

crime-scene-tape.jpg(CNS): A West Bay man was reportedly robbed in his own home Sunday evening in the second incident of its kind this weekend. Police said that in this second home invasion there was only one masked and armed robber, who reportedly mugged the victim at a house in Capt. Curry Road, West Bay at 6:53 this evening. The man said that he was at his residence when the robber, with what appeared to be firearm, entered the house and stole his wallet and two cell phones. Police said the suspect is of slim build and between 5'10" and 6ft tall. The robber’s face was covered with a black mask and he was wearing a long sleeved black shirt and a long pair of black trousers.

According to the report, no shots were fired and no one was injured during the incident before the suspect escaped on foot.

Police are also investigating a mugging which took place early Sunday morning outside a house in Palm Dale, George. The man told police that as hewent the outside his house he was approached by two masked men armed with a knife and a gun, who stole a cash bag containing an undisclosed sum before escaping on foot

Police are asking anyone who may have witness the suspect before or after the incident off Town Hall road to contact the police at West Bay Police station 949 3999, the RCIPS tips line 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477(TIPS).

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