Archive for January 10th, 2014

Visitor charged over use and possession of fake cash

| 10/01/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The police have charged a Colombian national who was a visitor to the Cayman Islands with two counts relating to forged cash. An RCIPS spokesperson said Friday that the 30-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday, 31 December by detectives of the Financial Crime Unit on Suspicion of Possession of Forged Bank Notes. He was later interviewed and a file was prepared for the director of public prosecutions. The man was then charged on Friday, 10 January, eleven days after his arrest. Police did not say if they had approached the courts in order to detainthe suspect for that long before filing charges against him.

He has, however, now been was formally charged with Possession of Forged Bank Notes and Uttering Forged Bank Notes and appeared in Summary Court Friday afternoon, when he was remanded in custody. The man who has not been named, is scheduled to re-appear in court on Monday, 13 January.

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Paedophile escapes more jail

| 10/01/2014 | 36 Comments

(CNS): The chief justice has doubled the length of a controversially short prison sentence given to a father who sexually abused his 8-year-olddaughter but the 45-year-old man has escaped a return to jail. The nine month sentence given to the West Bay father, who cannot be named by order of the court, has been overturned by the country's top judge as a result of a successful appeal by the crown and increased to 18 months. However, for a number of reasons Chief Justice Anthony Smellie said the additional nine months would be suspended for two years, along with the remaining suspended time of three months.

He also ordered that the suspension was to begin from 13 December, when the offender was released from HMP Northward having served six months from the original term.

The chief justice pointed to a number of reasons for suspending the additional nine months of the sentence, not least the pleas of the victim, as well as the problem that sending the man back to jail would be "tantamount to double jeopardy", given that he had served his sentence and had complied with all orders so far relating to his conviction.

However, the CJ found that the original sentence was "unduly lenient", as he allowed the crown's appeal. The senior judge pointed to the chief magistrate's failure to fully consider all of the aggravating factors in what has proved to be a difficult case that has many mitigating circumstances as well. He also noted that the chief magistrate had mitigated the sentence in favour of the victim as much as for the offender, a point with which he appeared to sympathise.

In his ruling, in which he increased the total sentence, CJ Smellie said that the convicted man must continue with the psychological counseling to his counselors' level of satisfaction and that should he re-offend during the next two years he would return to jail for the full remaining but currently suspended twelve months. The judge also recommended that the family of the victim seek a protection order to prevent the man from being alone at any time with his daughter, who is still only 13 years old, or any other young vulnerable people.

The case has caused significant outcry in the community as the assaults on the child were serious and even described as "repulsive' by the chief justice in his decision. But the catalogue of mitigating factors had also swayed the magistrate. The feelings of the victim, who is confused and seriously damaged by the abuse, have also influenced both the summary decision and now the appeal.

The daughter had pleaded with the court ahead of the appeal not to send her father back to jail; throughout the entire episode since revealing the abuse she has blamed herself about what has happened to her father and does not seem to understand that she is the victim, not him. Notonly has she been exceptionally concerned and upset about her father going to jail but also about the impact of his imprisonment on her sibling.

In his ruling the chief justice points to the troubling circumstances of the case, where the victim of the abuse can also become a victim of the punishment handed out to the offender.

"It is indeed a peculiar aspect of this troubling case that this vulnerable girl is not yet mature enough to appropriately grasp and come to terms with the abuse she has suffered but would blame herself, quite unfairly, for her father's predicament. That this is an ongoing concern even at the time of this appeal is evident from the letters," he said, as he pointed to the correspondence submitted by the victim and her sibling to the court. CJ Smellie said there was clearly a genuine bond of affection between the offender and his children which added a further emotional burden to the victim.

"She is clearly prone to blaming herself if he is further imprisoned for offences committed against her. In the particular circumstances of this case, it must be accepted that these are powerful factors influencing the decision on the appropriate period of incarceration."

While the chief justice noted that the impact of an offender's prison term on the victim cannot by itself be a reason for reducing a sentence, it played a part in this case. He said he found the sentence was unduly lenient but his decision to suspend the sentence was also influenced in part by the victim's circumstances.

With deterrence in mind, Smellie said the case called for a longer sentence, hence the increase from nine months to 18 months, but given the pleas of the victim, the issue of double jeopardy and the fact that the offender had served and complied with all of the conditions of the sentence, he suspended the now remaining twelve months.

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Activists fear delay in dump solution will fuel Dart PR

| 10/01/2014 | 34 Comments

(CNS): A group of activists in Bodden Town, who campaigned hard against the relocation of the George Town landfill to their district, have raised concerns that the Dart Gourp's public relations machine is using a local newspaper to manipulate the public and government into backing the idea, even though the minister responsible has statedhis emphatic position that the dump will be tackled on site. In the wake of the major fire at the dump, a.k.a. "Mount Trashmore", the Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free said things would have been even worse had that happened in their district but voiced concern that if government delays in getting started on the dump, the Dart proposal may return to the table.

One of the coalition leaders said that unless government acted quickly to resolve the ongoing issue, the proposal to move the dump to Bodden Town could continue to influence the community.

“Government must act quickly, not only because of the dangerous state of the dump, but because further delay will strengthen the Dart PR machine and its apologists in the media,” said Arlene Whittaker. “They’ll try and claim that the delay means there’s no other solution than Dart’s.”

However, the activists point out that the Dart solution was emphatically rejected at the polls by the district and the recent fire should not fuel the arguments to move the landfill. The Coalition said it has long warned of the dangers of fire inherent to a dump and the potential toxic fallout and has continued to call for a solution to the GT dump problem with waste-to-energy, in tandem with a comprehensive recycling programme.

“The Coalition has repeatedly insisted that moving the dump — to get it out of Dart’s 'backyard' so that it can proceed with a planned residential project for the wealthy – is not a solution and certainly no protection against further fires,” said Gregg Anderson, one of the founders of the group.

The activists stand by their position that establishing a new landfill anywhere on the island, and in particular in BT, would be a disaster for the island’s environment, defying all common sense as well as current world practice.

“We’d be ruining a pristine area with possible toxic air emissions, the risk of fire and explosions, disease through rodents and contamination of the water table into the wetlands,” he said. “Given the wide open spaces around Midland Acres and the winds from the east, the area is much more vulnerable to fires and natural disasters like hurricanes.”

This position was also adopted by the minister with responsibility for the dump, Osbourne Bodden, who said the recent fire at the GT dump would have been much more difficult to contain at the BT site proposed by Dart. Bodden campaigned against the move and has said publicly on many occasions that the landfill will be dealt with where it is.

The Coalition accused local newspaper, the Caymanian Compass, of assisting the Dart PR machine and the proposal to move the dump to their district when the paper said government was being “parochial, politically expedient and short-sighted” in opposing Dart’s proposal. The activist said they fear the district could still be threatened, despite the minister’s position, and urged Bodden to act quickly and even consider some of the local proposals that are much less costly than what has been touted in the past.

“Local engineers and waste management entrepreneurs on Grand Cayman have outlined possible options to eliminate Mount Trashmore in less than eight years, using small, modular, affordable air burners for waste-to-energy, like those currently used on Aruba, together with recycling, recuperation and resale of what’s valuableat the dump,” Anderson said. “Structures for sorting and recycling are already in place, although still never used, and there’s neighbouring crown land for expansion.”

Anderson added that establishing a new landfill and contaminating another site “are never the solution to fixing an existing landfill, certainly not when the alternative site is environmentally, so far from the source of most of the island’s waste, with absolutely no infrastructure for theincreased traffic.”

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BT MLA launches jobs drive

| 10/01/2014 | 67 Comments

(CNS): Concerned about the number of college students returning home from university who, despite their qualifications, are not getting a foot into the door of the workforce, PPM Backbencher and Bodden Town representative Al Suckoo has launched an initiative to directly assist young Caymanians to find suitable jobs. Based on the many representations to him from college graduates, he believes that many are being denied work because they have no experience. Suckoo, who experienced the same thing himself in the past, said that one of the reasons he went into politics was because of the concerns he had about too many young people cast aside by employers and not given that opening chance.

Promising to lobby Cabinet and harass immigration until things change and there is a level playing field, Suckoo said he wants his young constituents who can’t find work to call or email him directly to book an appointment at the MLA’s office in Bodden Town and get the ball rolling on their future careers.

“I am taking the initiative to meet with our students and assist them because of the growing number of complaints from young people stating that they are not being given entry level opportunities when they make applications,” he told CNS. “A large number are unable to get interviews and when they do attend interviews they are told they have no experience.”

Suckoo said no one could convince him that this is a myth as he too has experienced it, despite his own credentials.

“I made representations to the previous government and pleaded with them to address it,” he said. “Many of our young people feel they have no representation within government and many point to the events of years gone by as evidence that they were not considered a vital part of our society. We cannot have the future of this country starting off their lives feeling as if they are not a key ingredient for a safe, prosperous and united Cayman Islands.”

Suckoo said government has a responsibility to the young people who have fulfilled their end of the bargain, received their qualifications and returned home to contribute positively to society.

“We have to ensure that our young people are able to transition to the labour force and I will continue tolobby Cabinet and harass the Immigration and labour boards and departments until the situation changes.”

Appointed as chair of a task force to review the new National Workforce Development Agency, Suckoo said that review is now in the final stages of examining the operations and policies of the agency and he said it will be presenting its recommendations to the government within a few weeks.

“The objective of the task force is to ensure that NWDA is able to fulfill its mandate as a workforce development agency and to ensure that the mandate given to the agency is realistic and achievable. I am confident, however, that the end result will be very positive and will assist in reducing the level of unemployment among Caymanians.”

He explained that with this jobs drive he will help graduates become clients of the NWDA but above all press government where necessary to remove some of the obstacles that these young people face.

Meanwhile, North Side MLA Ezzard Miller, who held a jobs drive at the end of last year to place some of his constituents in the posts held by workers holding term limit exemption permits, said that some had managed to find work but not all.

He told CNS that he will be organising a door to door assessment of his constituents' employment needs and will press employers holding permits to take on local people.
Pointing to one particular employer in his district, he said he was very concerned that the HR manager gave glowing reviews about how well several young North Siders interviewed but not one was given a job because the employer claimed to have no vacancies when they held at least eight work permits.

“This is unlawful,” he said, as he too made a commitment to ensure employers consider local workers for any existing post held by a work permit holder.

Miller said that this was one of the reasons why business staffing plans should be public so that local workers can see where permits are held and they can ensure they have the right experience and qualifications for the jobs that they would like to try out for.

The independent MLA also called on government to reveal the results of the job drive efforts and partnerships with the private sector, such as CITA and local recruitment agencies, that surrounded the immigration reforms last year as he asked what happened and how many unemployed Caymanians got work as a result.

To contact Al Suckoo for assistance finding work, college and university leavers are asked to call him on 943-7652, email: alvas@ppm.ky or stop by the BT PPM MLA office at 8 Homestead Crescent (Behind Wendy’s Savannah).

North Siders seeking work can contact Ezzard Miller during his office hours at the district's civic centre or email him at nsmla@candw.ky.

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