Archive for July 31st, 2013

Injured burglary suspect faces criminal charges

| 31/07/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): In addition to the head wounds he received last week in a foiled attempt to burgle a house in Sandy Ground Road, Savannah, Harrison McLean (28), who was arrested on Sunday night in George Town, was charged with one count of burglary. The man was chopped on the head with a machete when the householder discovered him breaking into the property. Two accomplices who were with him in a green Honda car when it approached the house have not yet been apprehended and McLean appeared in court alone on Wednesday 31 July.

According to the original police report, at about 11:30 on 25 July, a green Honda car with three men inside approached the house. One of the men left the car, broke a window of the house and then entered the building. However, the householder was home and he confronted the suspect and struck him with a machete.

All three men were said to have dark skin and were wearing ‘construction attire’. 

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Planning boss makes bold promise for new system

| 31/07/2013 | 18 Comments

(CNS): A new online system is expected to drastically revamp, improve and speed up the inspection process for all buildings under construction in the Cayman Islands. The Department of Planning releases its new inspection portal tomorrow, 1 August, the first phase of its new Online Planning System. Officials said that inspections will be routed through the OPS system by next week and by Monday (5August) all contractors, construction companies, architects, engineers and other design professionals will be able to sign up to have access to the system.

“One of the most demanding processes within the Department is how we handle inspections of buildings under construction,” said Haroon Pandohie, Director of Planning. “With the OPS, we will drastically reduce the time it takes to process, execute, and document an inspection,” he added, as the first phase of the OPS will allow clients to submit their inspection requests online.  “This will save the department time and man-hours, and speed up every construction project for every contractor in the Cayman Islands,” the planning boss promised.

The department said training videos will be available online on the Planning website and face to face training sessions on the system’s use will be conducted twice per week for the month of August. It has worked with Brac Informatics Centre (BIC) to develop the system which is a customised cloud-based application with paperless workflow and automatic notifications to users.

Contractors will be able to submit inspection requests online which will have more prefilled information and save users time per submission. The department’s inspectors conduct their inspections with wireless tablets. This means they will record updates in real time and contractors can know the inspection result immediately.

A central portal for contractors to use for all government inspections related to construction increases contractor efficiency and streamlines the Certificate of Occupancy process while a central portal simplifies submission procedures and provides more accurate paper trails of completed workmanship.

OPS will provide greater information, planning said, about permit inspections in one central location and will enhance the Project Manager’s ability to manage schedules with sub-trades.

As OPS uses less paper and takes less time it reduces costs and will have a faster turnaround time per task for contractors.

Department of Planning OPS Project Manager, Charles Brown, said it was just the first step in a larger effort to make the department paperless.

“By the time we complete the full OPS roll-out, the Department will be 95% paperless,” he said. “At this stage the processes for requesting a Certificate of Occupancy, other final documents and Electrical Connections with CUC will also be trackable online. In future releases the department will be providing an inspection road map for contractors to follow, and in the long term, electronic plan submissions for permits and projects and the incorporation of the OPS functionality in the Sister Islands,” Brown added.

Alee Fa’amoe, Director of Client Solutions at BIC said that by leveraging over ten years of web and database integration experience, we’ve been able to meet and exceed the objectives of the Department of Planning to streamline workflows, starting with inspections.

For more information or to follow OPS media release, please visit the Planning website at www.planning.gov.ky and look for the OPS web link.

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Special funding helps DoE help local turtles

| 31/07/2013 | 10 Comments

(CNS): Cash that came from the UK and was distributed from the governor’s office is helping the Department of Environment better understand and measure the impact of the Turtle Farm’s release programme on wild the population of turtles nesting in Cayman and improve the level of information and research about green turtles and improve their protection. The funding has allowed the DoE to extend its turtle monitoring programme – particularly at night. The monitoring process involves locating and tagging nesting green turtles with flipper tags and microchips, documenting evidence of CTF tags, and taking genetic samples.

Although the DoE has carried out a comprehensive daytime monitoring survey since 1998 it has previously lacked the resources for intensive night monitoring.

"We sincerely thank the Governor’s Office for their support. The Turtle Farm has released more than 30,000 turtles since 1968 and we needed this funding to track how many are returning to nest in Cayman and to assist in the conservation of our wild turtle populations,” said Janice Blumenthal, a research officer with the DoE.

The research covers turtle activity on beaches around Grand Cayman and includes conducting a comprehensive study of all turtle nesting activity as well as tagging nesting female turtles to individually identify them and documenting the presence of Cayman Turtle Farm tags.

Photo (L-R) DoE Research Officer, Janice Blumenthal; Governor’s Staff Officer, Tom Hines; DoE Director, Gina Ebanks-Petrie gather to observe a new turtle hatchling

The DoE is also collecting tissue samples from nesting green turtles for future analysis, increasing its enforcement presence on beaches at night to reduce illegal take, as well as intervention and public education to reduce the impact of light pollution on nesting females and emerging hatchlings.

Commenting on the grant from the Governor’s Office, Staff Officer Tom Hines said it was a well-deserved project.

“This year we received many good bids for funding. However, deciding to support the Department of Environment’s bid was easy because it was well-written, focused on making an impact, and aligned with one of our priorities to preserve the biodiversity in the UK and the Overseas Territories. This project will do just that,” he added.

The DoE began local turtle monitoring in 1998 with assistance from the UK Government. Since then, the programme has grown significantly and is now a leading one in the region.

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LIME looks for cause after broken cable fixed

| 31/07/2013 | 5 Comments

(CNS): The local telecommunications firm LIME said that the MAYA-1 cable system was back in operation on Wednesday afternoon carrying traffic as normal following a “successful reconfiguration of the power” between the Hollywood Cable Station over in the United States and the Half Moon Bay Cable Station here in Grand Cayman. It said that the firm’s technicians were now attempting to establish what had caused the problem which caused communication chaos this week in Cayman. “LIME continues to work with the MAYA-1 consortium partners to determine the exact cause of the cable failure and the extent of the repair work required,” the company said.

“OurEngineers have been working around the clock since Sunday to determine the cause of the problem,” Donnie Forbes, Head of Infrastructure and Planning, in the Cayman Islands revealed. “As soon as we recognized that we had a problem we had our most experienced people along with our partners in the MAYA-1 consortium working on the issue.   Finally in the early hours of Wednesday morning after a total power-down and reconfiguration of the way the system is energized, the system was restored,” he added.

Forbes explained that the traffic on the Cayman Jamaica Fibre System (CJFS) cable was not impacted. “And whilst customers did experience some degradation of service our backup plans quickly went into operation and we moved the majority of impacted traffic onto CJFS which meant customers were able to continue to do business,” he said, as he thanked everyone who was involved in bringing the cable back on line and apologized for the inconvenience.

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Gun conviction thrown out

| 31/07/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 20-year-old man walked free from prison on Wednesday morning after the appeal court judges acquitted him on an unlawful firearms possession charge. Robert Aaron Crawford, from West Bay, had been sentenced to the mandatory ten years in jail in January, when he was found guilty by Justice Charles Quin following a judge-alone trial which took place in October last year. However, Crawford's defence attorney, Nick Hoffman, successfully argued that the judge had erred on a number of grounds and the conviction was not safe. The Court of Appeal agreed and found that the judge’s failure to deal with a number of discrepancies made his verdict unsafe, as they allowed the appeal, quashed the verdict and sentence, and found no reason for a retrial.

The crown’s case was that Crawford had handled it without gloves and with sufficient grip to throw it some 30 feet into the bushes across his body during a foot chase with a police officer along the side of the road. However, while there was DNA on the gun in question, some of which was a conclusive match with another local man known to the police, indicating the gun had not been wiped, there were no finger prints or any DNA belonging to Crawford on the weapon. 

The weapon was discovered shortly after Crawford had crashed the car he was driving on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway in the early hours of the morning in November 2011, as he was trying to escape a police pursuit. Following the smash, Crawford fled the car on foot and was reportedly seen throwing something into the bushes as he ran away. The cop eventually caught the suspect, who was arrested and taken to the police station.

Meanwhile, the cops began a search of the bushes and eventually, with the assistance of lighting and a metal detector, came across a Stock Luger pistol. Two pictures were taken at the crime scene some 40 minutes apart, and although all of the officers involved denied touching or moving the weapon before the scenes of crime officers arrived, the pictures tell a different story.

The first one, taken by an officer at the time of the find, shows the gun well underneath the vegetation. However, the second picture shows the weapon in what is clearly a different position above the vegetation and a bullet has appeared above the handle that was not in the first picture. The strange and clear differences were never explained at trial, as none of the officers involved could explain them, and all denied touching or moving the weapon or the bullet.

The Court of Appeal said these factors, combined with the fact that no further searches were made of the area once the Luger handgun was found, led to the conclusion that the verdict was unsafe. The judges noted that there could be no certainty that the weapon found in the bush was whatever Crawford was said to have thrown into them during the chase.

The appeal court judges found that the absence of Crawford’s DNA on the weapon, the unexplained change of position in the pictures and the fact that the officer who claimed he saw Crawford throw a gun after being been informed via hearsay that he could be armed, as well as the fact that Crawford was regarded as a local gang member by police, should havecombined to make the judge cautious in the face of the significant but unexplained discrepancies.

The trial judge had fallen into the trap, the Court of Appeal found, of “speculating” about the science that sometimes people don’t leave their DNA behind, when there was no expert evidence to support that. If this matter had been before a jury, it would have been essential for the judge to direct them to take into account the fact that the DNA of someone else was on the weapon, the appeal panel observed.

“We are forced to the conclusion that the judge’s failure to deal adequately with those points his verdict is unsafe,” the president of the CICA added.

Related article on CNS:

Gangster guilty over gun

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Misick has dirt on CI politics

| 31/07/2013 | 97 Comments

(CNS): The former premier of Turks and Caicos is said to have information on crimes involving senior politicians in the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Bermuda and TCI, as well as United States citizens and corporations. Michael Misick has been facing extradition from Brazil to face corruption charges at home since his arrest in that country last December. However, an editorial in the TCI Journal suggests that he may be facing charges and jail time in the US instead, claiming that Misick is in plea bargain negotiations with “the Americans” as well as the TCI’s Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (SIPT), which could "reduce his time in a United States prison to 20 years instead of life".

Michael Misick fled the TCI in 2009 after a commission of inquiry exposed widespread corruption in the islands, which led to the UK imposing direct rule over the territory. Misick is suspected of corruption, misusing public money and profiting from the sale of government land to developers and is alleged to have amassed a personal fortune of $180m. An international warrant was issued for his arrest and after three years on the run, he was apprehended on 7 December 2012 by Brazil's federal police in Rio de Janeiro as he was about to board a plane for Sao Paulo.

In January this year in a message from his maximum security jail cell in the South American country, Misick linked his situation to that of McKeeva Bush, the Cayman Islands’ former premier, claiming that his unlawful detention in Rio de Janeiro and the arrest of Bush in December 2012  were both illustrative of the UK’s determination to control its territories. He said the British were using allegations of corruption as a way of getting rid of leaders who strive for independence or who want to govern autonomously.

Since then, however, Misick lost his appeal for political asylum in Brazil and was returned to jail to await extradition.

An editorial in the TCI journal, headlined “Michael Misick in plea bargaining negotiations with the Americans and SIPT”, says, “If he has any hopes to not spend the rest of his life in prison, now is the moment he has the most leverage. Along with crimes that deal with United States citizens and corporations, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, Michael is said to have information on crimes dealing with United States citizens and senior politicians in Jamaica, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.”

The editorial concludes: “If Michael Misick can reduce his time in a United States prison to 20 years instead of life, it will be a worthwhile agreement for him and may actually help the Turks and Caicos Islands recover some of the stolen millions.”

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QC fights for re-trial over murder of child

| 31/07/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Andrew Radcliff, QC, (left) spent most of Tuesday on his feet fighting for a re-trial in the case against Devon Anglin for the murder of 4-year-old Jeremiah Barnes in February 2010 at a West Bay gas station. Anglin was acquitted in August 2011 by a visiting judge. Radcliff, a UK-based attorney who regularly works for Cayman's director of public prosecutions, has to persuade the appeal court that the judge erred not in fact but on a point of law before the three-judge panel will entertain the possibility of trying a man twice for murder.

Although legislation was changed to facilitate the concept of double jeopardy for the crown in a judge-alone trial, it can only occur if the judge got the law wrong and not as a result of his interpretation of the evidence.

Radcliffe is seeking to persuade the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal that the crown should be allowed to try Anglin again because the judge misdirected himself when he completely rejected the evidence of the crown’s two principal witnesses — Jeremiah's mother Dorlissaand his father Andy Barnes, who was believed to have been the gunman's target.

The QC argued that the judge had done so after only considering their evidence separately and apart and not explaining why he had rejected outright their testimony when there was no question that the couple were lying, only the possibility of them being mistaken in part, which would account for discrepancies.

Radcliffe is hoping to persuade the panel that this decision by Justice Cooke, the trial judge, to reject it completely without seeking to see if their evidence had support for each other or had other supporting evidence was wrong in law and that he was duty bound to look at the totality of the evidence in the round and not as separate “hermetically sealed” parts of the case.

The judge had concluded that the witness of truth was a gas station attendant, who described the gunman as wearing a Halloween mask, which CCTV footage shown in the court clearly demonstrated was not in fact the case and, as described by both the parents, the shooter was wearing a bandana. However, when compressed in the gas station store’s VT unit, the tape would appear to show something like a costume mask, experts had stated.

The appeal continues in Court 2 Tuesday morning, when Anglin’s legal team will fight to protect their client from having to face a second trial for a murder which he denies committing and for which he has already been found not guilty.

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Church rejects divorce reform

| 31/07/2013 | 131 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Ministers Association has filed its objections to the Law Reform Commission’s plans to modernize the divorce process, making it less complex and acrimonious and more fair, and removing a requirement of blame for the breakdown of marriages. The law reformers are currently in the second part of a review of three bills relating to family law and have revealed that the church association and just one local law firm have pressed to retain the concept of fault or blame in a divorce, as they say removing it will increase the divorce rate. However, the reformers have pointed to the need to modernize and remove unnecessary pain from an already difficult time.

“One of the principle aims of the modern divorce legislation is to ensure that when a marriage has broken down and parties have no intention of trying to fix such marriage, the process of dissolving the matrimonial partnership should be as free of acrimony as possible,” the  law reformers note in the discussion paper.

While acknowledging that that can depend on personalities and circumstance, they point to the need for legislation to make a difficult time less painful, which means moving away from fault based divorce.

The commission said that the Law Society and the Cayman Bar Association, as well as most other groups and stakeholders, were in support of the reform and just one local law firm and the ministers association were unsupportive. They claimed that in States across America the adoption of no fault divorce has escalated rates, leaving families vulnerable.

The law reformers said that they had hoped for more input and they are circulating the paper and bills in the hope of getting a wider contribution, as they seek to find a balance between removing the barriers when a marriage is over to prevent increasing bitterness and not having divorce become an easy way of dealing with marital discord. The reformers also ask whether the court and lawyers continue to be the best inquisitors and representatives when it comes to personal relationships.

The reformers are also seeking input from the wider public about wider matrimonial and family law. As well as finding ways to make the divorce process less complex, the bills, being circulated for consultation would introduce the concept of one ground divorce, such as irretrievable breakdown of the marriage after 12 months of separation, abolition of actions and damages for adultery, gender equality in maintenance proceedings, and the creation of common or de facto relationships in terms of property for unmarried couples together five years or more.

The proposed laws call for mediation in family proceedings and the recognition of pre-nuptial agreements, among other possible reforms.

Along with the discussion paper, three draft bills — a Matrimonial Clauses Bill, 2013, a Maintenance Bill, 2013 and a Family Property (Rights of Spouses) Bill, 2013 — are being circulated for input. The bills were prepared based on the comments received during the 2011 consultation on family law reform, other submissions to the commission and the recommendations in the 2012 report relating to the islands’ legislative compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Members of the public are invited to submit their comments on the bills and the discussion paper. Submissions should be made no later than 11 November and should be posted to the Director, Law Reform Commission, PO Box 1999 KY1-1104, delivered by hand to the offices of the commission at 1st floor DMS House, Genesis Close, or sent by e-mail to Cheryl.Neblett@gov.ky

See discussion paper and the three bills below.

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Officials defend air ambulance systems

| 31/07/2013 | 14 Comments

(CNS): Government officials from the various departments involved in the procurement of air ambulance services for emergency air evacuations have denied that the system is in effective or poorly managed. In the face of the auditor general’s recent report regarding the issues that could put the public purse as well as patients at risk, the agencies have denied any risk to those using the service. Admitting to some flaws in the process, the three main agencies involved, the health ministry, HSA and CINICO, defended the complex process for airlifting patients and said their chief concern is the well-being of anyone who may require the emergency air evacuation (EAE).

“It has been our experience that depending on a patient’s unique needs, the most cost-effective solution is not always what is required in each case,” the joint statement said. ”We strive whole heartedly to ensure that the EAE process is managed efficiently from start to finish, and to secure the best possible outcomes for each patient. While our system is not without flaws, which we are determined to address, its effectiveness has also been repeatedly proven.”

The statement also claimed that neither the local broker or Canadian Medical Network, which used by CINICO, actually transports, handles or provides any physical care for the patient being transported.

“The true exposures exist with the service providers: HSA (medical triage, stabilization etc. and transport to the air ambulance) then the air ambulance provider (maintenance of medical stabilization and any care administered during the transportation to the overseas receiving facility)," the statement said.

Commending the local broker’s 20 years of service, the officials went on to say that CINICO would investigate any evidence of fees being paid that should not have been and that all three agencies were committed to improving the treatment and care of patients.

Reflecting on the Office of the Auditor General's report, they said they had been “aware of many of the issues mentioned by the OAG for some time” but upcoming changes to the structure of the EAE would mitigate most if not all the concerns.

See full statement below.

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