Archive for December, 2013

Cruise visitor lost at sea

| 31/12/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS) Update Wednesday 2:30pm: Despite a day-long sea search Tuesday, the local Cayman authorities have been unable to find a missing cruise ship passenger who is believed to have gone overboard while the ship was at sea. Police said that the search continued Wednesday but the RCIPS Marine Unit said there is still no sign of the man, who is believed to have fallen into the ocean at around 6am yesterday about 13 miles off the coast of Grand Cayman. The 65-year-old man is a Canadian national who was on the cruise with his wife. His disappearance was reported to the local police at 9:42am New Year's Eve, when authorities began searching. The George Town CID also interviewed staff and witnesses on board the Independence of the Seas and the matter is still under investigation.

The Port Authority broadcasted an appeal to all marine traffic to be on the lookout for the missing passenger, and this appeal is being updated as the search continues.

Police had responded to the report of the man falling from the vessel after the Royal Caribbean cruise ship had docked in the George Town Harbour. The man's wife reported that he was missing to ship officials earlier that morning. The couple had retired to bed at about 1:00am Tuesday but when the wife awoke around 7:15am, she did not see her husband. She searched for him and when she did not find him made the report at about 7:25am. At that time the ship was headed into George Town Port, the police said.

A search of the entire ship was organized, officials stated, and the CCTV viewed but there was no sign of the missing man. As a result, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Marine Unit was dispatched to the area and conducted a search until low light but without success. Officers from George Town CID are continuing the investigation.

According to other media reports, on Saturday a man had jumped from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship near Puerto Rico. The search for that passenger was unsuccessful.

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Immigration boss arrested

| 31/12/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The man who heads up the enforcement arm of the Cayman Islands immigration department has been arrested for DUI. Unofficial sources have told CNS that the deputy chief immigration officer, Gary Wong, has become another statistic in the RCIPS road safety crackdown but the police have been reluctant to confirm the arrest of the senior civil servant. According to reports on Cayman27, Wong was allegedly involved in a road traffic accident in the early hours of Saturday morning in the Lower Valley area and was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident and careless driving.

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Top cop gets royal gong

| 31/12/2013 | 104 Comments

(CNS): There were no top royal gongs for Caymanians in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list but UK national David Baines, the police commissioner, bagged himself an OBE. Meanwhile, the governor named Dr Saratchandra (Sarath) de Alwis-Seneviratne for services to medicine and Thomas Magnus Wood for public service as recipients of the locally selected award the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour (Cert. Hon.) Baines, who has almost four decades of police experience in what were described as challenging positions in the UK, got the top royal honour with Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of services to policing in the Cayman Islands.

Although the RCIPS has had some recent successes in the fight against crime, Baines has presided over the police service at a time of mounting crime and he has faced political criticisms over the management of what are considered the extensive resources given to the RCIPS.

There have also been a number of questions raised over issues regarding the chain of evidence and a number of court cases this year that have collapsed as a result of poor police systems. The commissioner was forced to review the RCIPS policy for warrants after a justice of the peace admitted during a judicial review that he had signed a warrant without any comprehension of the alleged crime.

Baines came to the Cayman Islands in 2009 from the UK and has had his fair share of critics.Speaking about the challenges facing the RCIPS, he said, “A great many of our employees are committed to being excellent at their jobs in order to better serve the people of the Cayman Islands. Yet people tend to focus on the negative and not see the journey that we’ve been on,” he said.

See below for full details of all of the awardees.

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Drug council finds backers for free NYE bus

| 30/12/2013 | 4 Comments

(CNS): The National Drug Council (NDC) will be running the Purple Ribbon Bus service this New Year’s Eve from 10pm on 31 December to 3am on 1 January to help prevent drinking and driving after the 2014 New Year celebrations. This year the free bus service is being paid for by Greenlight RE, Jacques Scott Group and Cayman National Bank. This is now the thirteenth year that the NDC has organized the service and partnered with local bars to offer free soft drinks to designated drivers. Over the years, thousands of revelers have used the free bus service on New Year’s Eve, reducing the number of drink driving accidents that may have occurred without it.

The drug council said that while many residents drive responsibly, there are still those who believe they can drink and then drive safely, despite evidence to the contrary. With almost 40 drivers arrested for getting behind the wheel over the limit since the police began their road safety awareness programme, the lack of affordable alternatives when it comes to getting home after a night out appears to be override safety and legal concerns.

“Drink driving wrecks lives, can lead to arrest and imprisonment, loss of one’s driver’s license, and can ultimately be responsible for taking someone’s life,” the NDC said. “The NDC is still seeking additional support to ensure the free buses will be able to operate beginning at 10pm on New Year’s Eve so that the public can utilize this service on Grand Cayman. The goal is to have approximately eight buses from Reid’s Premier Tours running a regular routefrom West Bay to Bodden Town between the hours of 10:00pm and 3:00am.”

Anyone who wishes to use the service should look for the buses from Reid’s Premier Tours with the Purple Ribbons on the front. The buses will run at regular intervals and will pick up passengers at all major restaurants, bars and nightclubs, or at regular bus stops on the route.  The Purple Ribbon Buses will run to East End and North Side occasionally as well. 

“We are happy for the support of our sponsors and their pledge of financial support to ensure that the 'Purple Ribbon Buses' are made available again this holiday season,” said Director Joan West-Dacres.

“We encourage others to sponsor this initiative and help the NDC and your communities have a safe and happy holiday season. Each of us looks forward to celebrating the holidays with our family and friends but our celebrations shouldn’t include drinking and driving!!  Plan ahead and ensure you have a safe ride home. Remember that preventing drinking and driving is everyone’s business and we all need to play our role,” she added reminding drivers not to drink and drive.

See more details and bus route below

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Road safety campaign nets more drunk drivers

| 30/12/2013 | 18 Comments

(CNS): Another seven drivers were arrested over the Christmas week as part of the RCIPS’ road safety awareness campaign, 'Stay Alive'. Police officials revealed Monday that since the campaign began on 29 November, a total of 47 people have been arrested for road crimes. Thirty-two drivers were arrested for DUI and the remaining 15 were arrested for other offences, such as driving while disqualified. Meanwhile, 181 other traffic violations have been detected over the last five weeks of the campaign, which ends on 5 January.

Police said 79 people have been fined for using cell phone whilst driving, 60 people ticketed for speeding and 24 people were given fines for failing to wear seatbelt.

During the same period a total of 128 road traffic collisions have been reported, including a crash between two cars outside the Ritz Carlton hotel on 27 December, in which the drivers and passengers all escaped unscathed, and a crash on Shamrock Road involving an SUV and a motor cycle. The bike rider in that collision was taken to hospital with minor injuries.

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Audit finds no issues over controversial appointment

| 30/12/2013 | 42 Comments

(CNS): A report by government officials into the recruitment of an ex-pat to fill the post of Registrar of Lands at the lands and survey department has declared the process “fundamentally robust, well-documented” and in compliance with requirements of the Public Sector Management Law (PSML). The report which was conducted following complaints and questions raised by MLAs during finance committee in October was released by the deputy governor on Christmas Eve and concludes that no attempt was made to ensure the success of any particular individual. However, the deputy governor noted that recruitment of a foreign national to a post long held by a Caymanian was an illustration of poor succession planning.

The deputy governor said he was pleased that the integrity of the process was no compromised but he was not surprised by the outcome of the Audit Report and noted that with the move away from tenure as a basis for promotion to performance there was likely to be discontent among public servants.

“I accept that the filling of this post, which was previously held by a Caymanian, with a non-Caymanian signals that we must do a better job with Succession Planning,” Franz Manderson said.  “In August 2013 I instructed Chief Officers to ensure that there was a succession plan in place for all key posts in the civil service. I also accept that the move away from promoting civil servants based on tenure alone and focusing on raising the performance of the civil service by holding people accountable for their performance, by providing existing civil servants with opportunities to up-skill themselves and by promoting and recruiting highly qualified people in the Civil Service will cause some discontent,” he added.

Nevertheless, Manderson said that this would not stop the reform as he pointed to the goal of improving the accountability and performance of government employees.

“I remain committed to developing a world class Civil Service that supports the Elected Government and provides excellent service to the people of the Cayman Islands,” the deputy governor stated.

The trouble over the post began in finance committee and was one of several appointments that MLAs had concerns over as they said the private sector could not be expected to make the recruitment of Caymanians a priority if the civil service was manipulating jobs to tailor them to specific ex-pats. Questions were asked about changes to the Registrar of Lands job description and the addition of more qualifications as the MLAs wondered if the post had been tailored the vacancy to fit a particular ex-pat candidate who had direct connections to senior staff in the ministry, marginalizing local workers.

However the audit found that the integrity of the process was not in question after discussions with the chief officer for the agency, other members of the interview panel, the head of department, existing staff and the successful candidate. They also reviewed the documentation generated by the process.

The report found that no attempt was made to ensure the success of any particular individual. It also notes that previously evaluated job descriptions going back as far 2002 had stated a preference for a law degree, and also required membership in the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

See reports below


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Father of seven jailed over sex crime

| 30/12/2013 | 17 Comments

(CNS): A 57-year-old West Bay father of seven was handed a twelve month jail sentence two days before Christmas following his conviction on one count of sexual assault on a 15-year-old girl. The man had admitted groping his wife’s niece when she was staying over at the house one night in June 2011 but claimed he had mistaken the teen for his wife as he was drunk and high at the time. A stay-at-home dad after he suffered an industrial accident, the West Bay man has no previous relevant convictions but has been in jail away from his children and grandchildren, whom he also cares for, since he was  convicted in August.  

Given the circumstances of the crime, in which the judge said there was an absence of aggravating factors coupled with the defendant’s remorse and the fact that as soon as the teenager protested the assault stopped, he imposed a twelve month sentence with time served to be taken into consideration. Although the teen had come forward to make the complaint, the court heard that despite requests to do so she did not give a victim impact statement.

The West Bay father was thought to have a low risk of re-offending and had been supported by his wife, who lauded his care of their children and grandchildren since his accident.

The sentence comes following a recent debate in the Legislative Assembly on a private members motion brought by Bodden Town MLA Anthony Eden, which was supported by all members, asking government to consider imposing a minimum jail term of five years for anyone convicted of a sex crime.

The issue of sentences for sex offenders came to the fore earlier this year when a father was convicted of molesting his 8-year-old daughter at least four times over a period of several months and was handed a nine month jail term with three months suspended after his case was heard in the Summary Court. Released from HMP Northward earlier this month, the man, who is also from West Bay, appeared in court on December after the crown had appealed the sentence. The arguments for a stiffer penalty were heard by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, who is expected to deliver his decision on 10 January.

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Robbers strike at 2nd GT bar

| 30/12/2013 | 26 Comments

(CNS): Police have begun an investigation into another armed bar robbery this holiday week in George Town. RCIPS officials said that the police received a report late Sunday night of an armed robbery at Campbell’s Bar in Portland Road at around 11:20pm. Three masked men, who were all said to be in possession of handguns, entered the bar and demanded cash. No shot were fired and no injuries were reported but, after threatening the bar attendant, the robbers escaped on foot with cash from the premises as well as cash and jewellery from three customers who were in the bar.

Police said that they were unable to say in which direction the assailants fled and the only description available at the time of the report was that two of the suspects were tall and the third was short. All the men were dressed in dark clothing and wearing masks.

This is the second George Town bar to be robbed over the holidays. Two armed masked men held-up Wellies Cool Spot on Thursday night. The RCIPS has not yet stated if they believe the two incidents are connected.

Anyone who was in the area at the relevant time and saw or heard anything suspicious is ask to contact the George Town Police at 949-4222, the RCIPS tip line 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS).

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UK cops to reveal more about unsolved crime

| 30/12/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): British police services will be giving more information about why crimes are not solved in future as changes to the way offences are recorded and reported come into effect next April. According to reports in the UK media police in England and Wales aim to give the public a clearer idea about why crimes are not solved. Currently police can record cases as resulting in a charge, a caution or as undetected. About 70% are recorded as undetected. But Instead of labelling all crimes where there is no conviction as "undetected" that will be replaced by a series of new categories such as "prosecution prevented” is a suspect is too ill to stand trial.

Other new categories replacing undetected will include: "Community resolution" for when a suspect is dealt with without prosecution, such as when stolen items aregiven back. "Evidential difficulties" for when witnesses are unwilling or unable to give evidence "Prosecution not in the public interest".

Government officials said it will discourage forces from claiming offences have been cleared up when they have not.

Police will also be able to mark an investigation as complete – unless further evidence emerges.
Irene Curtis, president of the Police Superintendents' Association in England and Wales, said the changes would help to make it clearer to the public how the police worked.
"It might seem to some like excuses but it's really important that the public recognise that quite often it's actually outside the police's control as to whether a prosecution takes place," she said.

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Shot fired in bar robbery

| 27/12/2013 | 55 Comments

(CNS): Armed men escaped with an undisclosed sum of cash late Thursday following another robbery at Welly's Cool Spot in George Town. Police said they received a report at 11:14pm 26 December that at around 11pm two men with their faces covered had entered the bar and demanded money from the cashiers. One of the robbers was armed with a gun and at some point during the hold-up the weapon was fired. Police said that a single shot was discharged but no injuries were reported. After taking the cash the men, who were dressed in dark clothing, fled the premises on foot and were last seen on Sound Way. The suspects are described as 6'1" and muscular and 5'8" and stocky.

Anyone who was in the area at the relevant time and saw or heard anything suspicion is asked to contact George Town Police Station at 949-4222, the RCIPS tip line on 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS).

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