Archive for January 27th, 2014

Cap row leads to jail time for WB man

| 27/01/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A West Bay man was found guilty last week of shooting at a neighbour over a missing cap by a visiting judge, who presided over the case without a jury. Convicted of possession of an imitation firearm with intent, common assault and threats to kill in relation to an incident last August, Shane Bodden will be looking at jail time but he has escaped the mandatory minimum ten years for possession of an unlicensed firearm. Although Justice Carol Beswick was convinced by the evidence of the complainant that he was shot at by Bodden, neither the weapon nor any bullets were ever recovered and his victim received only a scratch, leaving no evidence that what Bodden used was a lethal, working gun.

Bodden had denied the charges, saying he was not there at the time. Although he chose not to take the stand on his own behalf, his long-time girlfriend appeared as a defence witness and testified that he was with her and their children on the night in question.

Nevertheless, the judge said that she was not convinced by that evidence, coming as it did from someone who admitted to being his common law wife for some eleven years and who denied discussing the matter with her boyfriend, which the judge found difficult to believe. 

The judge noted that the witness was awaiting sentencing herself, having recently been convicted of forgery related offences. Although she has never been convicted of perjury, when the issue of her dishonesty was raised during cross examination, the judge stated that the witness’ demeanour changed considerably and concluded in her verdict that she was not a forthright witness.

The judge said the complainant, Joseph Ebanks, was still “coherent and clear” when he gave his evidence, despite admitting to having some drug and alcohol problems in the past and that he had consumed a little beer, ganja and some cocaine earlier on the day that he was shot at. In her verdict Justice Beswick accepted his evidence as truthful. She said the evidence satisfied her “so that she was sure of unlawful violence and hostile intent” in the altercation between the two men which resulted in Bodden producing a firearm and shooting at Ebanks.

The incident had taken place at an unoccupied house in West Bay that belonged to Ebanks' father, who is now unable to get about and is living at another location nearby.

However, as a family property, Ebanks said he would check the house when he went to visit his father as he believed people had been breaking in. On the night in question he found Bodden on the premises at about 8pm, having apparently broken the padlock to get inside. Although he left after an argument, Bodden later returned to the property. When Ebanks was making a final check, as he was planning to leave he encountered Bodden again.

According to Ebanks, Bodden accused him of stealing his cap and despite his denials and protestations, Bodden threatened to shoot him if he did not return it. Declaring that he was prepared to shoot him, Ebanks said Bodden pulled out a black gun and fired at him. Having ducked and turned however, whatever was fired from the weapon skimmed Ebanks’ shoulder, leaving a small graze.

Continue Reading

Fuel quality probed

| 27/01/2014 | 21 Comments

(CNS): Following complaints and concerns from consumers that some of the fuel sold at local stations is well below acceptable standards of quality, the Cayman Islands’ Chief Petroleum Inspector (CPI) undertook a report and has identified some problems withthe quality of diesel. A release from Government Information Services said that the fuel inspector has pointed to the need for some new measures and regulations as well as a formal complaints procedure as a result of his findings during the assessment undertaken at the end of last year. CNS has requested a copy of the report, which has not yet been released as officials stated it remains in draft form.

Although the inspector, Duke Munroe, has made a number of recommendations to better monitor and ensure local gas quality, the problems encountered during the review have not yet been fully detailed.

The report, entitled "Investigation into Quality Issues of Gasoline Distributed in Cayman Islands Retail Network", took place late last year following another surge of complaints from consumers that their vehicles were being impacted by bad fuel and drivers reporting mechanical problems that appeared to be linked to gasoline quality.

According to officials, the quality of the fuel analysed was found to be generally acceptable. It was analysed by Certified Labs in the USA, which indicated that the baseline parameter of local fuel meets standard test criteria. The few cases where fuel quality issues were found, in particular issues regarding some underground tanks, the product of concern was diesel – not gasoline.

Officials said measures had been taken to address those issues but additional work was needed in this area.

“While the industry’s Octane Index was found to be acceptable for the fuels tested, any possibly compromised fuel would likely have been depleted at the time of the investigation. The fact that many drivers use different retail locations and often different companies was a factor which influenced the exercise," officials stated. “Of the parameters analysed, the levels of existent gum were found to be somewhat abnormal. Yet, based on available information, the level of 'gum' detected was not suspected to be the cause of vehicular issues.”

However, even though experts thought that the symptoms did not directly correlate with issues related to this parameter, the possibility could not be ruled out.

“Because of its likely effects, efforts continue to further review this topic as part of comprehensive solution to the problem,” GIS said of the 24-page report documents. Mild anomalies in fuel colour were also flagged for further observation and review.

Munroe said tank maintenance, technical issues and inventory management practices would continue to be scrutinized in order to determine if there were other underlying issues.

The CPI reportedly found that the shortcomings the office turned up were “manageable” but improvements were needed in the area of information-sharing between the fuel industry, government and the public, as it seems he struggled to get the information he needed.

"In many cases, basic non-proprietary information was difficult to obtain … which can only be addressed by well-defined regulations,” Munroe said. “Despite some limitations, the exercise produced useful findings and valuable data/information which is essential for renewed discussion in the area of fuel quality, and ultimately to develop a framework to address this issue, going forward,” he added.

The CPI has also proposed establishing a committee to develop and periodically review quality standards for imported fuel. New regulations and fast-tracking of policies to ensure quality and to allow effective monitoring and enforcement of industry standards are among other key recommendations made.

The draft report with findings was presented to government in November and officials said it was being reviewed. Copies were shared with the oil companies, who cooperated with the CPI during the investigation but copies have not yet been provided to the media.

Continue Reading