Archive for January 31st, 2014

North Side robber faces four years in jail

| 31/01/2014 | 18 Comments

(CNS): One of four men accused of robbing Chisholm’s supermarket in October last year has been handed a four year prison term by Justice Charles Quin following a guilty plea. Courtney Bryan (21) admitted possessing an imitation handgun and being one of the masked men that entered the store and robbed the 83-year-old owner and her granddaughter of jewellery, a phone, cigarettes and around $300 in cash. The judge commended both the quick action of the victims, who took down the getaway car number, their willingness to come forward and the police, who acted quickly and apprehended the robbers after a coordinated chase with the RCIPS helicopter and a car on the ground.

Bryan was given six years for his part in the daylight heist as the judge found he was a main player in the robbery, being one of the two men that went into the store after two accomplices had gone in ahead to “case the joint”, Justice Quin said in his ruling. But because of his early guilty plea the judge gave the defendant the full discount and reduced the term to four years. He was also given a further three years for the possession of the imitation weapon, which the judge ordered to run concurrently.

Although Bryan had shown considerable remorse and had admitted his culpability, which he said was as a result of serious drug problems and debt to dealers of some $2,600, which he still owes, the judge said he found few mitigating circumstances. The victims in this case were subjected to a terrifying attack as Bryan had pulled the jewellery from the neck of the owner’s daughter during the hold-up with such force the chain had broken.

While the younger of the victims had been terribly shaken by the ordeal, the owner of the store, Rhoda Ebanks, put the situation into startling perspective.

“I am 83 years of age and I still work for a living. These idiots come and take your few dollars instead of trying to work. I get up from 6am to get to work for 7am and I am there until 7pm and they are idling their time away,” she told social workers who recorded the victim impact statements.

Bryan has no previous convictions for dishonesty but, like many other young people who fall into crime, he was described as having a very difficult up-bringing. The judge said that he had an unstable past with no relationship with either of his Caymanian and American parents. Attempts to go live with his father in the US at a very early age failed and he was brought up by his paternal grandmother.

When he was older, he returned to Cayman to try and establish a relationship with his mother here but that did not happen.

Writing to the courts saying he wished he could turn back the hands of time and apologising for the pain he caused his victims, he acknowledged that there was nothing he could do but accept judgment. Admitting an association with the wrong people and his dependency on cocaine and ganja, he said that remained a problem because, despite his incarceration, he was still using drugs at HMP Northward.

Justice Quin accepted that the defendant  had a troubled upbringing, which, he said, "regrettably is an increasingly common occurrence,” but said the violence and use of force to remove the victim’s jewellery, the use of masks, the planning and imitation weapon, which to the victims appeared very real, were all aggravating circumstances. While it was not known if there was a mastermind in this crime, the judge said that Bryan played a major rather than a minor role in the crime, as he handed down the jail term.

The judge paid tribute to the victims for their courage and quick action, noting that it was only because they had recorded the plate number of the car that the robbers escaped in that police were able to pick up the fleeing vehicle and remain on its tail until the robbers were apprehended, which Justice Quin also commended. Despite the concern of the victims that the robbers know they had reported them, the judge said it was only this type of stand against anti-social and criminal behaviour by the public that can assist the police in addressing the crime in our society.

One other defendant so far in this case has also submitted one guilty plea but his attorney remains in discussions with the crown on behalf of his client, who is still only 16 years old. Meanwhile, two other men have denied being involved in the crime and have pleaded not guilty.

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Scrap metal heads to US CIG pockets $250k

| 31/01/2014 | 18 Comments

(CNS): Despite problems in the past for the government with the removal of scrap metal from the Geoerge Town dump, things seem to be going much more smoothly now. Another scrap metal tender has gone to Cardinal D Ltd, who has already paid the government $250,000 for 5,000 tons of metals at the landfill, which it is now in the process of removing. The US firm has worked with the government before, having shipped metal to China, and again won the contract in August of last year following a public tendering process. The barge, which was being loaded at night, left the George Town cargo port Friday morning. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

“The company has a barge on island to load the scrap metals. This is the first shipment under the current contract, and the barge is projected to be loaded with around 2,500 to 3,500 tons on this trip,” Roydell Carter told CNS Thursday. “A second shipment will be required to remove the balance of contracted metals. Scrap metals are also required to be removed from the Sister Islands. The scrap metals are being shipped to a company in Tampa for further processing.”

The waste metal loaded on to the barge was mostly cars and construction debris. As well as earning some cash for the public purse, the removal will clear space at the dump.

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Ethics law sails through LA

| 31/01/2014 | 31 Comments

(CNS): In a day long debate in which most members of the Legislative Assembly spoke, the Standards in Public Life bill sailed through its second reading in parliament on Thursday with the unanimous backing of all members present.  Welcomed by the politicians as a way of restoring public confidence in government and giving substance to the idea of good governance, the bill will impact all those who hold senior posts or positions of responsibility in government and board members in government companies and statutory authorities. By June of this year the details of assets, business interests and potential conflicts of those who make decisions about public money will need to be public.

Presented by Premier Alden McLaughlin, the long awaited bill was presented twice to the previous UDP Cabinet but was not acted upon.

“The Bill will have far reaching positive consequences for the reputation of the Cayman Islands and the affairs of government,” McLaughlin said. He added that it was a PPM campaign promise to pass the legislation and the law was one of several the country had developed to support the institutions of democracy as set out in the constitution.

The bill received cross-party support for its second reading but legislators will continue working on the bill Friday when it is scrutinized at the committee stage, where a number of amendments, which also appear to have the wide support of all members, will be addressed before the bill has its third reading, when it will be formally passed.

As well as being welcomed by the members, who mostly agreed that it would help to restore the people’s trust and confidence in politicians, the deputy governor welcomed the bill and said the civil service was ready for it.

Franz Manderson said it would shine a light over the civil service and promote transparency. He said that government employees understand they have to, and were committed to, abide by the new law. Acknowledging allegations that senior civil servants make decisions to further their interests, he said the bill made it clear that was not possible. However, if someone believed a decision was being made to further a person’s own benefit, they could check the public register, which will be on the commission’s website, and then make a complaint.

Manderson also welcomed the whistleblower protection, as he said that not being able to provide that protection had been a shortcoming for the civil service because people were reluctant to come forward.

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