Archive for October 23rd, 2013

3 out of 4 guilty in robbery

| 23/10/2013 | 14 Comments

(CNS) Full report: A visiting judge found three out of four accused men guilty as he delivered his verdict Wednesday afternoon in the case of the WestStar TV offices robbery in May 2012, which he heard without a jury. Justice Alistair Malcolm acquitted a fourth man. Finding David Tamassa and Andre Burton guilty of robbery and possession of an imitation firearm, the judge also said that Ryan Edwards was guilty of aiding and abetting the robbery because he supplied the getaway car. George Mignot was acquitted by the judge on all charges, though he did not walk free because he had been previously convicted, along with the same men with whom he shared the dock in this case, for the CNB robbery, which occurred a month after the WestStar hold-up. He remains on remand. 

Local attorney Nick Hoffman representing Mignot had argued that his client couldn’t have been involved in the robbery because the cell site evidence was inconsistent with the account given by the crown's key witness. Marlon Dillon had told the court that Mignot was travelling with him along with Burton and Tamassa to the robbery but cell site results shows Mignot's cellphone was locked to a different location.The judge told the court that he could not be sure of the alleged involvement of Mignot. Due to the lack of evidence he was unable to convict the defendant on the charges against him.

Despite the multiple inconsistencies in Dillon's testimony, the judge was convinced that Tamassa was the organizer of the heist. Dillon also gave evidence that he learned about the robbery on the day it was executed when he returned from a trip to Jamaica. He told the court that he had seen missed calls from Tamassa and was asked to call him back urgently. When reviewing the call history, there was no evidence of any calls being made to Dillon's phone that morning. The judge said that he believed Dillon could not have known where Tamassa and Burton were that day unless he was with them as suggested.

The court heard Justice Malcolm say that he has taken into account that "a lie constantly told does not become the truth" but that he was satisfied with the evidence that Ryan Edwards had assisted in the robbery by providing the Mitsubishi RVR used as a getaway vehicle.
The judge accepted the evidence by the previous owner of the vehicle who had said that a Jamaican man who owns a mobile car wash van had bought the vehicle from him around 3 months before the robbery had taken place.

Although Edwards had already made confessions to being involved in the crime he claims that his three co-defendants were not his accomplices. The Jamaican national said in his police statements that he and Dillon were accompanied by two other Jamaican men who had escaped by canoe after the robbery. But the judge took into account that witnesses had described the robbers to have Caymanian accent and found Edwards guilty.

The three men are scheduled to be sentenced for the Cayman National Bank robbery on Friday along with their co-defendant Rennie Cole.

Check back to CNS later for a full report.

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UK workers now need official police clearance

| 23/10/2013 | 1 Comment

(CNS): From the start of next year, affidavits will no longer be accepted from United Kingdom citizens in lieu of police clearance certificates as a result of the new comprehensive records system in Britain, which has speeded up the police clearance certificates process. The Association of Chief Police Officers, the UK’s Criminal Records Office, coordinates and manages all such information and changes have improved links between criminal records and biometric information databases. This updated process allows applicants to obtain a certificate within two weeks or even two days for a premium service, compared to more than three months in the past.

The new certificates are designed with security technology and they will feature a photograph of the applicant, unique reference and unique serial numbers and other features.

For many years now the Cayman Island’s Department of Immigration accepted notarized ‘Affidavits of Character’, which simply attested that applicants had no criminal convictions. Although not an ideal arrangement it was introduced because it took three months or more to get a formal police clearance.

“The change from our perspective is necessary to ensure consistency and to improve our ability to confirm the character of the individuals who wish to enter, work and reside in our Islands” said Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans. 

Anyone interested in accessing this service should visit

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Missing wanted man may be in Jamaica

| 23/10/2013 | 19 Comments

(CNS): Following the disappearance of a West Bay man who is wanted by the police but who dived into stormy seas on 1 October to evade capture the RCIPS has stated that it now thinks he could be in Jamaica.  A police spokesperson said Wednesday that Anthony Smith (31) who has not been seen since diving into the sea near West Bay public beach as he was being chased by officers may have managed to get off the island. “The RCIPS has received credible information that Mr Smith is off island and has been in Jamaica since two days after he was first reported missing. This information is being followed up on, and once confirmed a further update will be provided,” the spokesperson added.

There had been concerns for Smith’s welfare as the sea was rough and currents strong when he jumped in.

Despite an extensive search that night and for several days after however, there was no sign of the man. However, if the information given to police proves to be correct the man who is wanted by the courts for failing to appear in on-going criminal cases and by the police in relation to their enquiries must’ve managed to get out of the ocean without being spotted by the search team and hide until he was able to make his way to the neighbouring island.

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Cops seize 150lbs of ganja in West Bay

| 23/10/2013 | 2 Comments

(CNS):The RCIPS has made another major ganja haul following an operation in West Bay. In the wake of several significant seizures and discoveries the police announced the recovery of 150lbs of the drug and the arrest of three men. Police said that at about 5.30am yesterday, (Tuesday 22 October), officersfrom the Drug and Serious Crime Task Force, Operational Support Unit, K-9 and Uniform Support Group searched a number of homes in the Turtle Crescent area of West Bay. As a result of the operation 150lbs of ganja was seized and three men, aged 26, 27 and 52 years of age were all arrested on suspicion of possession of controlled drugs with intent to supply. The suspects remain in police custody while enquiries continue.

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CUC picks 2 US firms for solar-wind energy supply

| 23/10/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): In August this year Caribbean Utilities Company, Ltd (CUC) invited renewable energy experts to submit expressions of Interest and preliminary proposals for the financing, construction, ownership and operation of renewable energy generation facilities, and the local power provider has chosen two US-based firms to provide wind and solar power to Grand Cayman. CUC said that, subject to approval by the Electricity Regulatory Authority of the final negotiated power purchase agreements, the company has chosen New Generation Power (NGP), who proposed to provide 3 megawatts of wind power and 5 megawatts solar, and Electric Power LLC (IEP), who plan to provide an additional 5megawatts of solar power. Read more on CNS Business

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Who’s guarding the gate?

| 23/10/2013 | 15 Comments

I have read with interest the dialogue now taking place in the Legislative Assembly in relation to the current crime wave. I too endorse the calls for better policing and was happy to hear thepremier confirm his commitment to ensuring policies and resources aimed at crime reduction. Nonetheless, all of this talk took me back to only a couple of years ago (2011) when we were faced with a similar spate of retaliatory gang-related shootings (as they were then described). Many of you may remember a similar wave that took place even before then in 2005. 

Both times we heard the cries; but then the shootings quelled and so too did the impassioned calls for better policing and strong and effective crime reduction policies. While there is much to be said about addressing the current levels of crime in general, my current focus does not allow for that discussion (it will follow). My focus today deals primarily with the issue of gun-related crime.

I have watched intently as Commissioner Bains has taken licks (as he should) for what we all perceive as ineffective policing. That is, the failure of his officers to prevent, detect and successfully investigate gun-related crimes and apprehend the perpetrators to our satisfaction. But there is more than enough blame to share, so I must wonder why he sits alone in the hot seat.

The Customs Department has for too long escaped its share of the criticisms laid at the feet of the RCIPS. Customs’ most recent controversy is levelled at the hiring and qualifications of a suitable person to take on the position of collector. And I concede that as the highest revenue earner for the Cayman Islands Government, the department requires an educated and insightful leader (and person of integrity) at its helm.

However, revenue collection is NOT the sole (or most important) function of that department. As in all other jurisdictions, customs has a very significant law enforcement mandate to fill. It is charged with protecting our borders and ensuring that contraband such as guns and drugs don’t make it through to our communities … to the hands of unsavoury characters and our children. To the best of my knowledge no firearms are produced in the Cayman Islands and there are strict prohibitions surrounding their legal importation.

Therefore, the fact that we are seeing so much gun-related crime should tell us that there is a significant failing from this department, which precedes the blame to be held by the RCIPS. Ask yourselves, when was the last time you heard of a customs seizure of guns? Long before the mandate of the police to investigate a shooting kicks in, a crime relating to that particular firearm has already been committed. It’s called smuggling.

Why is no-one talking about this – the illegal importation of guns? Why aren’t we asking how they’re getting in, how many are here and who’s bringing them? Why aren’t we demanding arrests and holding customs to the same yard-stick as RCIPS? We chastise Bains for not doing enough to get guns and those who use them off of our streets, yet hold no one accountable for not keeping them from passing our borders in the first place.

For as far back as I can recall, customs had been hailed for the amount of duties it collected; but this has been part of the problem. As long as the additions to the coffers are bountiful we turn a blind eye to the fact that not enough emphasis has placed on its law enforcement function. Now with the search for a new collector in the spotlight, I believe that it is important that we all understand what we are search for.

It is clear that neither our MLAs nor the deputy governor thoroughly understands this. I listen to the calls on the one hand for a Caymanian and on the other for a master’s degree holder, neither of which properly articulates what should be required for the person collecting our money and guarding our gates. More important than having a Caymanian is having someone who understands the function and the mission of the department. More important than the need for a superfluous masters degree is the need for a LEADER, someone that understands the important balance to be achieved between revenue collection and border security and protection.

Whilst the requirement of a graduate degree is a reasonable expectation of the potential post-holder, for a position that emphases border security the need for law enforcement experience is equally as important. I dare say a master’s degree is not! Truth be known, most of CIG’s department heads would be without a job if that requirement were imposed across the board, which does make one wonder why it’s there.

If we are going to raise the bar (which we should), let it be raised to a reasonable and practical height. How about we not settle for just having a title-holder and demand some substance of the person charged with the guardianship of our borders. I’m sure Commissioner Bains would be all too happy to share his licks with anyone who’s adequately qualified to take them.

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Cops widen techie spying net

| 23/10/2013 | 75 Comments

(CNS): According to a leaked memo, which was sent by the Information and Communications Technology Authority’s director to local telecommunications firms, government authorities are planning to widen their spying net and wire taps to include all kinds of electronic information. The memo, sent on 15 October, calling the private companies to a meeting indicates that the local authorities are planning revised regulations that will allow the authorities to not only tap phones but wider communication networks as well. While this is supposed to assist the RCIPS in legal investigations, without oversight or a data protection law the authorities will be able to collect masses of information with newly purchased spying equipment.

Almost $1 million has been set aside in this budget for the specialist surveillance equipment to intercept electronic communications, which the police have already purchased, sources told CNS this week. However, the cops now need to get inside the local communication networks to check that it can do the job required, especially with the upgrades that most of the local telecoms firms have recently undertaken.

The ICTA’s director, David Archbold who is himself currently under an investigation regarding possible irregularities relating to recruitment at the government authority, told the local telecom firms and internet service providers that government had instructed the authority to draft new regulations to mandate the provision of legal interception facilities for the police by the telecom firms.

“Although initially these regulations will apply only to mobile telephony service providers, it is anticipated that in the near to medium term, these obligations will be extended to all telephony service providers. The authority has already commenced consultations with LIME and Digicel, but would now like to extend these discussions to include all other telephony licenses,” he wrote calling them to a meeting, which, it is understood, was postponed.

Currently anyone who is employed by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service can intercept communication in the course of a criminal investigation and there are few limits or any oversight on this ability. The spying can only be authorized by the governor, who signs a warrant for the police commissioner, who then delegates and authorizes whomever he chooses in the RCIPS to do the spying, again with no oversight or limit. It cannot be used in court but it can used in the course of an investigation and to collect dossiers on suspects.

Before she issues a warrant, the governor would need to be convinced by the commissioner of the need under a number of reasons but the criteria is quite broad and includes national security interests, averting an imminent threat to human life, circumstances that fall within the scope of international mutual assistance agreements, to safeguard the economic well-being of the Cayman Islands and preventing or detecting serious crime, which gives the police a very wide net to spy, not just on suspected criminals, but the people they talk to.

Although an audit committee is supposed to have been created to examine all interception warrants issued by the governor, the committee has never been set up and it is not clear whether that committee would be able to see exactly what and how much data the police are collecting.

CNS has contacted the authorities regarding the plans and is awaiting a response.

See memo attached and the current regulations relating to wire-taps

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