Archive for January 19th, 2012

Accused gunman acquitted

| 19/01/2012 | 17 Comments

Jul 6 Man accused of shooting -pic.jpg(CNS): Full story – A West Bay man has been found not guilty of trying to kill Andy Barnes outside a local bar in June 2010 in what was reported as a gang related shooting. Justin Manderson walked free from the courts after Justice Richard Williams delivered his acquittal, stating that he found too many inconsistencies in the evidence given by Barnes to be sure that he had correctly identified the man who shot at him outside the bar. In his first criminal ruling in a judge alone trial, Justice Williams said he did not find sufficient corroborating evidence to support the claims by Barnes. "Having formed that view and looked at the counts, I find Mr Manderson not guilty on all three counts," the judge told the court as Manderson threw his hands up in delight.

In his ruling the judge pointed out that Barnes' identification of the gunman was made in difficult circumstances. He said that it was dark and although more than a fleeting glance the judge said his credibility was in question. The judge said his credibility was not in question because of his criminal record, which he had discarded, but because of the doubt raised about the veracity of his evidence, because of the CCTV evidence brought by the defense and the contradictions between Barnes' testimony and that given by other witnesses for the crown.

He also pointed to the fact that there clearly was animosity between the men despite Barnes' denial. Barnes believed that Manderson's cousin, Devon Anglin, was responsible for his son's death and there was gang rivalry. It had also been demonstrated that Barnes believed Manderson had threatened to do him harm and therefore his identification was biased by that.

Barnes had also denied threatening to shoot Manderson's younger brother, Jordon, when the men were both present in the cells at the court house, despite witnesses to the contrary.

The judge rejected the crown's gunshot residue evidence because of the dangers of contamination. He pointed out that Manderson had been arrested by firearms-handling officers and had been transported in the Uniform Support Group van. He further stated that one particle was not sufficient to convict, especially when the identification evidence was in question.

Other issues that could have bolstered the crown's case, such as the telephone evidence, was weak because the crown had not proved that the phone they attributed to Manderson was in fact in his possession at the time of the crime and the unit had never been produced during the trial, the judge said.

He noted that comments attributed to Manderson at the time of his arrest to the police had been denied. The crown claimed that two police officers had stated that when Manderson was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder he had asked, “Attempted? So he's not dead then?”

Justice Williams dismissed the one other eye witness that said he had seen Manderson riding his bike towards Kelly's Bar on the night in question. He said that, again, the identification of Manderson was made in the dark and was not much more than fleeting. He also said that the account did not corroborate with any other evidence and was not enough to bolster the account given by Barnes.

The judge said that because of the weaknesses in the key witness account there was no need for him to review in detail the alibi evidence that had been put forward by the defendant, before he told Manderson he had found him not guilty.

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Chinese are best, says Bush

| 19/01/2012 | 91 Comments

DSC07665 (243x300).jpg(CNS): China Harbour Engineering Company is the best option for the cruise port, the premier has said, because government has examined many other possibilities and no one else has the money with the right plan for Cayman. McKeeva  Bush has also revealed that when CHEC has recovered its investment in the planned facility, the Cayman government will get a 40% share in the profits. He declared that the Chinese would be developing the port in George Town, the bad weather alternative at the Spotts jetty and a new pier in West Bay but did not say when he expected the main agreement to be signed or when the work would start. Delivering his much anticipated annual CBO speech, Bush failed to reveal any new initiatives or any details on other pending projects.

Speaking about the cruise berthing facilities, he said that following negotiations with both Dart, who he said had the money but the wrong plan, and GLF, who he claimed didn't have the money, he re-emphasized his commitment to CHEC as government's partner on the much anticipated project.

“The Chinese remain the best company to do the cruise facilities,” Bush told an audience of some 350 people at the CBO conference at the Westin Resort on Thursday morning. “You can search from now until Kingdom come and nobody else has the money.”'

He made the noted exception that Dart did, but as he wanted a 99 year lease the people had objected to that proposal. GLF, the previous developers in negotiations with government, did not have the money, he said, as they had wanted a letter from him so they “could go out and peddle bonds to finance” the proposal, Bush added.  

He made no mention of the South Sound proposal, which he has rejected previously because it is not in George Town where the exisiting merchants have made their investment. He also made no mention of the latest proposal, which has also been submitted to the government that has suggested placing the facilities further North of George Town in the Pageant beach area.

He said the Chinese would and could do the much needed project. He emphasised the need for the port facilities when he said that most Caymanians who worked in the tourism sector depended on cruise tourism.

Bush stated that the agreement with CHEC would include the renovation of the Spotts Jetty and that the pier which was always intended for the Turtle Farm in West Bay would be part of the deal. With government subsidizing the Farm to the tune of $9 million every year because of the low visitor numbers, Bush said a dock there would stop that. When the Turtle Farm was redeveloped it was done with the understanding that there would be a dock, he stated, but “the previous government didn't do it”,  so the facility went into deficit. With a pier at the location there would be thousands more visitors, the premier added, as well as a significant saving to the public purse.

He told the CBO conference delegates that the Chinese, not the Cayman government, would cover the cost of the environmental impact assessment for the facilities. Bush acknowledged that there would be issues, such as the requirement to move the George Town dive wreck, which he said should never have been in the harbour. Admitting that the location was not necessarily perfect, he lamented the objection to what he believes is the perfect spot, which is the George Town area of the North Sound.

Outlining other aspects of the negotiaitons between government, the Port Authority and CHEC, he said the Chinese would also be covering the costs of tendering at the new facilities and that all material for the project would be bought locally and they would be responsible for the costs of on-going maintenance of the facility. Bush stated that all of the upland development would be undertaken by local contractors.

Addressing fears based on the experience of other jurisdictions in the region that have done business with CHEC, Bush said there would be no trailer camps. “Any accommodation that they need they will have to rent local rooms. There will be no trailers,” he said.

Focusing on the financial issues, he emphasized that there would be no government loan or even any guarantee to the firm with this deal. Bush stated again that people would be able to byshares in the project and there would be a direct profit share for the public purse as well.

“When they pay off their investment in 25 years, we think, there will be a profit sharing with the Cayman Islands Government of 40%. Now, as business people, then you tell me if that's bad,” he told the audience of the CBO.

Check back to CNS and CNS Business later today and Friday for more from the CBO conference.

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Nick Freeland to chair new tenders committee

| 19/01/2012 | 15 Comments

Nick-Freeland.jpg(CNS): As part of the government's overview and revamp of its procurement process, Nick Freeland, the former managing partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, will be taking up the chair of the Central Tendering Committee. The premier revealed the appointment of Freeland to the key body in the oversight of government spending and value for money for the public purse on Thursday morning at the CBO conference. With the government's procurement system under intense scrutiny following the revelations of numerous irregularities and problems exposed by the auditor general, the process is facing a major review. McKeeva Bush said that he welcomed this review and he had wanted to see changes long before the audit office report.

“In case you think I didn't want it,” the premier told the audience as he announced the appointment and said Freeland was giving up his time to help in the review and the development of a new system.

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Woman threatened and mugged on Eden Road

| 19/01/2012 | 25 Comments

(CNS): A television news reporter was at the scene of a mugging earlier today and had finished interviewing the victim and witnesses before detectives from the RCIPS arrived. While so far the police have only confirmed that they received a report of a robbery and are waiting for details from CID, Cayman 27′s Kevin Watler has filed a full report with the news station that a woman was mugged at the junction of Eden Road and South Church Street at 7:05 am. He was told by the victim that she was walking to work and saw a guy sitting on a fence. As she walked pass him he said with a Caymanian accent, "Stop, give me your bag!” then he held something to her neck, but she could not say for sure if it was a firearm or knife.

The victim told Watler that she begged the thief to please give her the passport in the bag, but he walked off briskly.

A witness saw the thief run to the back of Eden Road with the victim's handbag and called police. Other witnesses at the end of Eden Road said they saw a man fitting his description running towards Windsor Park. As he was running he took off his shirt. He was described as wearing a black long sleeve shirt, baggy blue jeans, dark sunglasses and a mask over his head with anopening for his eyes. He was about 6 feet 2 inches tall.

RCIPS officers arrived at 7:49am and both the victim and the witness who called police were unhappy it took so long for an officer to talk to them, Cayman 27 says. Shortly after police arrived the victim suffered a panic attack and an ambulance had to be called. See Cayman 27 report.

In a separate incident, a crime involving a firearm may have been averted yesterday after a witness saw a masked suspect outside a house she was visiting and ran inside. Police say that at about 10:30pm last night (Wednesday 18 January) the RCIPS received a report that a woman had been entering a friend’s home in Bodden Town Road, close to the Tape Club, when she saw a masked man armed with what appeared to be a firearm outside the premises. The woman ran into the house and the man made off. Police enquiries into the incident are ongoing and the woman will be re-interviewed later today in an attempt to obtain further details.

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Rare trees gated off as bypass clearance starts

| 19/01/2012 | 30 Comments

Protective fence surrounding Wash Wood Trees (268x300).jpg(CNS): Having committed to protecting important and significant wildlife that maybe at risk in its road plans Dart said Wednesday it had saved some rare bushes that were identified on the planned new by-pass road to West Bay. Officials from the firm revealed in a release that some rare Washwood trees were being gated off and protected from the road development. During last summer Dart had worked with local environmentalist, Ann Stafford, and a concerted effort was made to preserve rare and endangered species. The Discovery of the Wash Wood Trees (Jacquinia keyensis), between Yacht Drive and the eventual intersection of Esterley Tibbetts Highway Extension with Batabano Road led to steps to protect them.

“The trees have been carefully gated off with a 4’ galvanised chain link fence to protect them,” Dart said in a release about the land clearance for the new road on.

Wash Wood trees whose leaves and bark were used to make foam for washing clothes are of local cultural significance. Not only are the trees endangered but they are extremely slow-growing so losing any of the trees would be a significant further negative impact on the species.

Dart also stated that other trees of significant size and stature which can be successfully saved will be potted and moved to the Dart nursery for future landscaping.
 

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Romney has millions in Cayman offshore accounts

| 19/01/2012 | 0 Comments

Mitt-Romney.jpg(CNS Business): The news team of one of the major US network television stations has focused on presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands, which they say has enabled him to pay a low 15% on his earnings. The front runner for the Republican candidacy, Romney’s personal wealth, estimated at around $250 million, has come under increasing scrutiny as his GOP rivals, looking for attack material to lessen his lead in the nomination race, have made this a campaign issue. Homing in on this new point of contention between the candidates, ABC News has run a feature on Romney’s low taxes, sending a TV crew to Cayman, which they call “a notorious Caribbean tax haven”. Read more on CNS Business

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Latest arrest in TCI was PNP leader

| 19/01/2012 | 0 Comments

clayton_greene_0.jpg(CNS): Following the announcement by the TCI government yesterday the Progressive National Party (PNP) leader Clayton Greene confirmed Wednesday that he was the man arrested and questioned by the special investigations and prosecution team (SIPT). Greene said his arrest related to money he received on behalf of his cousin Quinton Hall. The PNP leader added that SIPT interviewed him about US$1 million which Hall had received for the 2006 sale of an interest in Crown land. “I did not act for Quinton Hall in the sale; however, his proceeds of sale did come to a trust account which my firm operated at TCI Bank and from which I disbursed the funds on Quinton's instructions,” Greene said.

The news website TCI news now reported that Greene had said the funds were legitimate during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

"The relevant funds were drawn on the account of a reputable institution in the Turks and Caicos Islands held at a commercial bank in the Turks and Caicos Islands and I had no reason to suspect that they were anything other than clean funds,” he said. “When I deposited the funds into my account its source was declared to the bank and the bank did not question me further on it. I also had no reason to doubt that the transaction was anything other than legitimate.”

Greene stated that the investigators did not say anything during the interview to persuade him that there was anything wrong with the transaction.

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CIG overdraft reached $25m

| 19/01/2012 | 53 Comments

overdraft.jpg(CNS): Despite claims by government that it has stabilized the public finances and ended the last financial year with a surplus of over $20 million, the premier increased the government overdraft in December by $10 million in order to pay its bills. As a result of cash flow issues, McKeeva Bush wrote to the overseas territories minister on 23 November asking him to permit the Cayman Islands Government to increase its regular overdraft facility from $15 million to $25 million until the end of last year. The extension on government’s current account with the RBC Royal Bank to assist with its cash flow issues cost the public purse some $50,000.

Henry Bellingham, the FCO’s minister, permitted the extension on the government’s temporary borrowing, the governor’s office confirmed, but it had reverted back to $15 million by the beginning of January.

“From1 January 2012, the Cayman Islands Government has been operating on the grounds that its overdraft facility has reverted to its traditional CI$15 million level,” a spokesperson from the governor’s office confirmed. “Any subsequent request for use of the additional $10 million overdraft facility will require separate approval by the FCO.”

In his letter to Bellingham seeking the approval, Bush said that need for the extension was predicted on cash flow statements sent to the UK which had also been estimated in the 2011/12 budget appropriations signed by the governor. He said it was merely a temporary request as government anticipated that cash flows in January would improve as a result of the fees government collects at the beginning of the year from the financial services sector.

Although only a short term loan, the overdraft extension comes in the wake of claims by premier that his government would engage in no further borrowing over the next financial year and at a time when he had emphasised his government’s success in managing the public finances.

 In his New Year message to the people he said the state of public finances has been steadily improving since May 2009. “In the current fiscal year that will end on 30 June 2012, government will not borrow … I therefore expect that during the present government’s four-year term, there won't be any borrowing,” he said.

Bush said he had reduced government’s debt and the message on borrowing was clear. “The present government minimizes and avoids borrowing wherever possible, whereas the previous government significantly increased the country’s public debt during its term,” he added.

His government had done well on addressing the deficit, Bush claimed, as at the end of the financial year 30 June 2011, central government achieved an unaudited surplus of over $20 million which was why the government rewarded civil servants for their hard work by reinstating the 3.2% cost of living adjustment in December.

See Bush’s letter requesting permission to extend the borrowing on government’s overdraft facility by $10 million below

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Alleged target makes no ID

| 19/01/2012 | 0 Comments

jose.JPG(CNS): The man that the crown claims Raziel Jeffers had intended to shoot and kill, when he and his accomplice opened fire on a group of young men in a yard in West Bay in July 2009, failed to identify him as the gunman. The prosecution's case is that the motive behind the murder of Marcus Ebanks and the attempted murder of four other men at the scene that night was because the defendant was trying to kill Jose Sanchez (left). Taking the witness stand on Wednesday, Sanchez however, acknowledged that at the time of his interview with the police when he was asked if one of the gunmen could have been Jeffers he told them he did not think it was.

When asked by Jeffers’ defence attorney Peter Champagnie how well the witness knew the accused man Sanchez he admitted he knew him well and saw him regularly but he had failed to identify him on the night of the shooting.

During his brief appearance on the stand Sanchez, who was present at the yard in Bonaventure Road the night of the killing, indicated that it was a long time ago, everything happened too quickly that it was dark and their faces were covered so he could not recognise the men who were “running and coming” as he sat in the yard and saw them approach. He said he knew they were hostile and added that there “had been a lot of violence at the time,” and admitted he saw one of the men had a gun in his hand.

Sanchez said he had turned to his friend Joe Bush who was also in the yard and told him to watch out for “those guys” as he quickly moved into the house and locked the door and stayed on the ground.

The witness denied that there was any particular trouble between himself and the defendant. He did however admit that he had taken up with the defendant’s girlfriend and baby-mother when Jeffers was in jail and they later had a baby together as well but he said he didn’t know how Jeffers felt about that.

Asked about a fight in Kelly’s bar in West Bay prior to the shooting at Bonaventure Road, Sanchez denied that Jeffers had ever hit him or caused him any trouble while he was there.  

In his opening statement Andrew Radcliffe the prosecuting attorney had said that there was bad blood between Jeffers and Sanchez as they were both members of opposing West Bay gangs and it was he not Marcus Ebanks that Jeffers had targeted that night in July 2009. However, when Sanchez, who was one of three men recently acquitted of the murder of Alrick Peddie, who was shot in a West Bay yard in March 2010, took the stand neither Radcliffe nor Champagnie quizzed Sanchez about the motive or gang issue.

 

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