Archive for September 18th, 2013

Mac faces probe over limos

| 18/09/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police have confirmed that the Financial Crimes Unit is pursuing yet another investigation that involves the former premier, this one regarding the misuse of public funds to finance limo services in the United States. The RCIPS issued a short statement Wednesday following enquiries by CNS and revealed that McKeeva Bush, now the opposition leader, attended the police station regarding the latest investigation on Tuesday but he had not been arrested. Asked about the latest probe, Bush said he had done nothing wrong and he had told police the car services used in his role as premier when visiting the US were organised by staff and followed a protocol that had been in place for many years.

“Car services have always been provided by staff in the US since the 1990s, and both security and car services were made available for the premier both here and overseas by the protocol office,” he said. “The police asked me about cars but I don’t know what is paid to which companies for them; I was merely provided with the cars when needed.” Bush noted that it was an historic provision and he had no idea who owned the companies involved.

The opposition and UDP leader told CNS that he believed this was just more of the “vindictive witch hunt” against him “to make my life hell and to make me look as bad as possible”, but he saidhe was grateful that there were people who knew the truth of it all.

The RCIPS gave limited information regarding the issue but other sources suggested that allegations had been made that cars were being used for non-government business and the firm used was owned by employees in Cayman’s Florida office, who were also responsible for procuring the necessary limousine services for any visiting Cayman Islands officials, including the premier.

Police said that they were in a position to confirm that Bush had attended at the RCIPS Financial Crime Unit on Tuesday, 17 September, by appointment.

“Mr Bush was not arrested,” the police emphasised. “He was interviewed in connection with the alleged misuse of public funds to finance limousine services provided by a company owned by an employee of the Cayman Islands Office in Miami. Enquiries are at an early stage and as such it would be inappropriate to comment further," an RCIPS spokesperson stated.

Bush is currently facing several corruption related charges over the alleged misuse of a government credit card, but earlier charges of theft have been dropped. He appeared in Grand Court last Friday when the trial, which is expected to last four weeks, was scheduled for next September.

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Booze and drugs litter prison compound

| 18/09/2013 | 12 Comments

(CNS): Prison authorities have recovered well over two pounds of ganja over the last fewdays, which they suspect was lobbed into theprison compound over the two 15-foot fences that surround the facility. According to officials, a number of packages of contraband were found at HMP Northward this morning, yesterday morning and over the weekend. The package found today, Wednesday 18 September, contained two plastic bottles filled with white rum, as well as a parcel of almost nine ounces of what the prison described as vegetable matter but is understood to be ganja. These were found in an old paint can located near the tilapia fish tank at the rear of the prison.

Yesterday a package containing ganja, which was wrapped in duct tape and weighed over one pound, was said to have been discovered near the grow-box area, where it had landed after it was apparently thrown over the prison fence. At the weekend officials seized two similar packages totalling almost 12 ounces of what was believed to be ganja that had been found around the prison.

After a history of the prison authorities turning a blind eye to the ganja use by inmates, as documented in a recent prison report that described very high levels of illegal drug use in Northward, the new prison director, Neil Lavis, has adopted a zero-tolerance policy. As a result, officers have found and confiscated considerably more contraband over the last few months than has ever been previously reported, including cell phones, smoking papers, alcohol and ganja. All of these finds were on the compound or in the process of being smuggled into the prison by inmates, the authorities said.

The prison also claims that drug counselling is available to all inmates but it is understood that it is nowhere near the standard required and, despite the levels of addiction among prisoners, few of them are using the services.

The UK prison inspectorate’s report published last year found high numbers of prisoners arrived at Northward with either drug or alcohol problems and its survey showed that a further 13% developed a problem while in prison.

“In spite of this, there was no provision for prisoners with drug or alcohol misuse issues to receive clinical treatment,” the inspectors said. “In our survey, 24% of men had had a problem with drugs and 13% with alcohol on arrival at Northward, and a further 13% said that they had developed a problem with illegal drugs while at the establishment. In spite of these statistics, there was no provision for prisoners with drug or alcohol misuse issues to receive immediate, safe, effective and individualised clinical treatment,” the report stated. In addition, less than a quarter of inmates said they knew who to ask about help with drug dependency issues

The prison works on a regime of punishment, and although addiction is an illness, those found with contraband lose sentence remission time and other privileges but are still not properly treated for their drug dependency. In many cases, the report also found that some prisoners misusing drugs were also suffering from undiagnosed and untreated mental health problems.

The inspectorate found that little effort was made to control the smuggling of contraband into the prison, but the authorities have noted the particular problems they face with drugs being thrown over the fences. 

Although the perimeter fences are covered by CCTV, the cameras are not monitored in real time as government officials have stated that the prison does not have the budget to cover the necessary staffing levels. However, it is recording the packages illegal arrival and can assist in the prosecution of those that are apprehended. Members of the public who commit such offences are subject to criminal prosecution.

With the increased vigilance by officers, who are now finding drugs on the prison grounds with increasing regularity, the director commended his staff for the success in “the battle against the small minority who try and supply contraband” to the prison population.

“I would also urge those individuals to think long and hard about their actions. Drugs and alcohol work against our efforts to stabilise the population, work with them to be clean from drug and alcohol use, and thereby returning them to society to lead law abiding lives,” Lavis added.

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Parents urged to keep lunchbox meals safe

| 18/09/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Department of Environmental Health (DEH) is reminding parents of the importance of following good food-safety practices when preparing children’s school lunches. “It is important to keep our children safe from food-borne illnesses by following the recommended safety guidelines” said DEH Food Safety Officer, Gideon Simms. DEH officials ask parents to follow thee tips below in order to prevent children from acquiring food-borne illnesses. For more information on food safety, please contact the DEH at 949-6696.

At Home:

  • Keep the kitchen’s food-preparation areas clean.
  • Wash your hands with antibacterial soap and warm water before handling food.
  • Clean your cutting boards, dishes, utensils and countertops with hot water, and a sanitizer or antibacterial soap.
  • Don’t let pets jump up on kitchen counters.
  • After making lunch, return perishable foods (like cheese, deli meats and mayonnaise) to your refrigerator promptly. Don't let them sit out on the counter.

The Lunchbox:

  • Pack lunch in the morning, not the night before. Make sure that cold foods are cold before packing them in a lunchbox.
  • Insulated lunchboxes are the best way to keep food at a safe temperature until it’s time to eat. Sandwiches made with refrigerated items such as luncheon meats, cheese and tuna salad should be carried in an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack. This will keep the sandwiches safe to eat, even after two to three hours outside of a refrigerator.
  • Pack a frozen juice box or an ice pack in the lunchbox, to help cold food stay cold.
  • Keep hot foods hot, like soups, stews or chilies. In the morning, bring food to a boil and then pour it into a hot, clean vacuum bottle (you can disinfect the vacuum bottle with boiling water).

At School:

  • Instruct kids to store their lunchboxes in a cool place, out of direct sunlight.
  • Place dairy products such as milk and yogurt into a refrigerator.
  • Instruct kids to always wash their hands before eating.
  • Never eat food that has a funny taste or smell.
  • Use food within their recommended “use-by” dates.

Lunch foods that can be eaten at room temperature include the following:

  • Peanut butter
  • Jams and jellies
  • Breads, crackers, cereals
  • Clean fruits and vegetables
  • Dried meats, such as beef jerky
  • Baked products, such as cookies and cakes
  • Canned meat or poultry products that are eaten immediately after opening.

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Car stolen at gunpoint in GT

| 18/09/2013 | 25 Comments

(CNS): A 23-year-old man has been arrested after a car was stolen at gunpoint in George Town yesterday evening. According to the RCIPS, just before 6pm on Tuesday 17 September, they received a report of the car jack near to the Red Cross building in Huldah Avenue. The suspect, who was known to the victim, sped off in the stolen Honda Civic, which was spotted a short time later by police patrols. A car chase began and the Air Operations Unit and USG officers were deployed. The stolen Civic travelled at speeds of around 60-80mph along Shamrock Road, weaving in and out of traffic, and so, in line with the RCIPS pursuit policy and concerns about public safety, the critical incident manager took the decision to stand down the pursuit . 

However, the police helicopter crew maintained observations on the car as it continued into the Midland Acres area. The car swerved off the road and the suspect ran into a nearby yard and bushes. The helicopter crew then guided Uniformed Support Group (USG) officers to the suspect’s hiding place and he was immediately arrested on suspicion of possession of an unlicensed firearm. He remains in police custody while enquiries continue.

Anyone who was in the area of Huldah Avenue and witnessed the incident, or the car travelling from Huldah Avenue to Midland Acres, is asked to contact George Town police station on 949-4222, the RCIPS tip-line on 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS).

Below: Two stills of the stolen vehicle overtaking other traffic in Bodden Town (supplied by the RCIPS).

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Arrest made for WB murder

| 18/09/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police say a 22-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the death of Irvin Garlon Bush (52), who died of gunshot wounds on Sunday night. An RCIPS spokesperson said the arrest took place following a police operation in the Breakers area at around 5.30pm yesterday, Tuesday 17 September. He was arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody while enquiries continue. Bush was shot in Daisy Lane in West Bay as he was entering his home at around 10pm on 15 September. The victim's son, Robert Mackford Bush, was killed in the district's gang related shootings in September 2011.

A murder investigation has been launched with an incident room at George Town police station. The murder incident room hotline is 925-7240.

Anyone who was in the area at the time of the shooting, or has any information can also contact George Town police station on 949-4222, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS).

The murder of Irvin Bush is the first this year and nine months since the last fatal shooing in the islands, when Jackson Rainford was shot and killed in George Town. Tareeq Ricketts (22) was convicted of his murder last month following a trial by jury and sentenced to life in prison.

Robert Mackford Bush, the son of the latest victim, as well as Andrew Baptiste and Preston Rivers were the three young men killed in the gang related violence two years ago in September 2011 in West Bay. Since then Brian Borden has been charged with Bush's murder and has been on remand at Northward since August last year.

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PAC set to review reports

| 18/09/2013 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Sparks could be flying in the Legislative Assembly today when the new Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meets for the first time in public to call witnesses and discuss two controversial reports by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG). With former premier McKeeva Bush sitting on the committee that scrutinizes the reports, one of which criticises his administration, especially his alleged direct interference in issues outside of the political realm, there could be some uncomfortable moments for the auditor and others on the committee. Roy McTaggart will chair the meeting, but after he recently sat at the government top table as a temporary cabinet minister, Bush was among those who claimed this is now a conflict, since ministers should not sit on PAC.

The committee is expected to review two reports by Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick and his team that raised a number of controversies, one that examined how government manages major capital projects, and the second was a specific report on some of the potential anomalies surrounding the air ambulance service.

Proceedings are open to the public and scheduled to begin at 10am.

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Ex -pastor claims sexual advance was encouraged

| 18/09/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Former youth pastor and TV personality, Felix Manzanares, denied sexually assaulting a 41-year-old woman from West Bay in December 2011, when he took the stand on Tuesday in his own defence. Manzanares told the court that he was receiving a “sexual tone” from the victim as a result of various comments she made. The jury stifled laughter as the defendant stood in the witness box to illustrate what had given the former church youth leader, who is a married man, the impression that the complainant was being flirtatious. He also told the court that the two of them had come to an agreement just days prior to the alleged offense to meet and "catch up” but had not managed to do so due to other responsibilities.

During his testimony, the 27-year-old defendant said he celebrated his birthday with his wife days before the incident and had arranged with the complainant to meet the following day for lunch.

However, these plans were delayed until 19 December, when he claimed they decided to meet at her parent's house when he would be visiting them as normal as a pastor with the Church of God. The plan was that he would then follow the woman home to have a friendly meeting. The accused said he was aware that the complainant had dinner plans that night but was told he could remain at the residence until her friend had arrived.

Manzanares testified that when they arrived at the home, he made them both a cocktail while the complainant went to change into comfortable clothing. He then followed her to her bedroom, where she showed him a pair of shoes that Manzanares had jokingly tagged as 'stripper shoes' via a BlackBerry Messenger conversation the night before after she had posted a picture of the new shoes as her BBM profile.

After that the two returned to the living room and began having a normal conversation before, he said, he leaned over and began French kissing the West Bay woman.

Manzanares admitted that he had rubbed her feet asking to see her 'stripper toes' and said the complainant responded by saying that it was her 'sweet spot' and he should stop before “clothes started to come off”.

The ex-pastor said his accuser had made no indication that he had crossed any boundaries or wished for him to stop and had also made a comment about having a "thing for younger guys". He told the court that he then followed her into her kitchen, where she was washing up, and stroked her from the shoulder to her waist but that his gestures were not rejected.

During cross examination, the crown counsel put it to him that although the victim had said she had a "thing" for younger men, she did not say that she was attracted to men who are married. He was asked to explain what he meant when he said that the complainant was being flirtatious, to which he stood up and shimmied about, causing the judge and jury to laugh.

Prior to his giving evidence, a recording of a reconciliation meeting held between the accused, the complainant and a fellow member of the church was played for the jury. It was brought to their attention that the victim was unaware that Manzanares had been recording at the time of the meeting. 

When asked by the prosecution why he had done so, the defendant responded, "I found it strange that she wanted to initiate a private meeting with me," he said, after she'dmade such malicious claims about him.

"I was safe-guarding myself,” he said about the recording, on which he was heard expressing deep remorse for his actions repeatedly and accepting the repercussions of his actions.

Manzanares is expected to continue under cross examination in the Grand Court tomorrow at 10:30am.

Related article on CNS:

Pastor accused of sex assault

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Booze laws under review after conflicts exposed

| 18/09/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Government is reviewing in the process by which liquor licenses are awarded and managed, as well as the current moratorium on new licenses, officials have revealed. Following a chaotic meeting of the Liquor Licensing Board last week, when conflicts of interest caused the chairman and two board members to recuse themselves, which stalled proceedings because there was then no quorum, officials have acknowledged the problems relating to liquor licenses but said they are entrenched and complex and cannot be fixed overnight. With an uneven playing field, licensees fighting among themselves and board members and their families seen to have advantages over other holders, the licensing process seems to have broken down. Read more on CNS Business

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