Archive for February 6th, 2014

Cop in collapsed case gets CS employee award

| 06/02/2014 | 48 Comments

(CNS): A press release from Government Information Services announcing November’s civil service employee of the month Thursday revealed that the lead officer in the collapsed ‘Punch n Play’ case this week, in which the defendants were acquitted before the trial started due to some fundamental flaws in the investigation and prosecution, has got the award. Government officials described Detective Constable Ingrid Spence of the RCIPS Financial Crime Unit as “a force to be reckoned with”, just the day after a Grand Court judge had been baffled by the failure of the same officer and told the prosecuting counsel who had inherited the case at the last minute that the officer had let her down.

According to the GIS release, Spence was given the award “for always striving to bring her best to her work”. Yet Justice Charles Quin had questioned in open court exactly what the lead officer in the ‘Punch n Play’ case had been doing for the last three years when at the start of trial she had failed to secure a fundamental piece of evidence on which the case was entirely dependent.

Nevertheless, the same officer was lauded by the deputy governor, who said her dedication to her work had been exemplary and played a significant part in her selection.

“Keep up the good work,” Franz Manderson had told Spence, adding, “This recognition symbolises and reinforces the values and standards that we expect all staff to exhibit.”

The release went on to say that as a detective constable within the FCU, her responsibilities involve directing and investigating complex fraud matters and assisting numerous local and international agencies.

“Her investigative acumen and persistent efforts distinguish her work within the Islands, but also when she collaborates with organisations in other jurisdictions, notably the United States (US). Whether it is for simple or complex fraud cases, DC Spence consistently employs the same level of dedication, initiative, professionalism and follow-through,”

However, in the case against Andre and Sasha Espeut, accused or forging a winning ticket in the Foster’s supermarket annual scratch car competition ‘Punch n Play’, the officer had in fact failed to contact the people who had produced a critical spread sheet, which the crown said was the fundamental piece of evidence that had demonstrated the fraud, but its veracity, accuracy and origins did not support the standard of evidence required in law.

Before directing a jury to acquit the defendants because of this fundamental error, the judge had pointed the finger squarely at the police officer in charge of the investigation.

In order to support the spreadsheet, the officer should have contacted the company that produced it and researched the necessary information to support the document. However, it seems as though it was not until the morning that the trial was about to start in the more than three year old case that the officer began attempting to support the evidence she had presented and contacted the manufacturers of the cards.

Although Justice Quin is always quick to commend and thank officers from the RCIPS who are involved in cases that come before him when their work has brought offenders to justice or to commend there bravery and quick thinking, his comments regarding their shortcomings are less frequent, making his concerns in the case this week all the more emphatic.

Despite the judge's concerns, however, about the inadequacies of the police in this case, Spence’s bosses clearly feel very differently as she was also lauded by police management in Decemebr for another award for her dedication and ‘outstanding investigative’ skills.

See full release from GIS below.

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Safeguarding 7MB priority for dock development

| 06/02/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): The PPM campaigned on building a cruise dock and the revitalization of George Town, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said in Thursday’s video clip for CNS Business, but he reiterated previous statements that the piers would not be built if they presented too much of a danger to the environment, with Seven Mile Beach a priority. Deputy Premier Kirkconnell said that the George Town area was “Old Town” and said government believed there was a cultural and heritage reason to revitalize it, both for the economy and the opportunity of making it a vibrant city centre. “The piers themselves play into that,” he said. Read more and watch the video on CNS Business

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Cayman vs. Middlebury College.

| 06/02/2014 | 0 Comments

(CRFU):  The Fidelity Cayman Storm RFC and the John Doak Architecture Iguanas RFC (currently ranked 4th and 3rd in the 2014 Alex Alexander Memorial Trophy Competition) joined forces on Sunday 2 February to take on Middlebury College Rugby Club who are on Island for a 3 game touring series. The South Sound Rugby pitch does not often entertain Rugby Games on a Sunday but with Middlebury having arrived on Island only the day before the young Americans were keen to get a game under their belt and acclimatize to playing in the Caribbean heat and humidity. (Photos Caroline Deegan)

Middlebury were certainly the younger, fitter and more organized team going into the opening fixture but the Cayman Select side had size and experience on their side.

The Americans opened the scoring first and the Cayman side struggled to contain the young Americans early on. With some kicking for territory mingled with forward driving from the Cayman side the “Stiguanas” soon found themselves in scoring distance after a missed Robbie Cribb Penalty kick was knocked forward by Middlebury and a series of forward phases led to a pick a drive ball close to line which allowed Iguana tighthead prop Peter de Vere to open the scoring for the Cayman team.

Cayman soon started to impose some dominance on the proceedings and a brace of tries from Iguana flyhalf Kramer Bell and a fourth try from Iguana wing James Macfee gave the Stiguanas some breathing room on the scoreboard but a red card for foul play left the Cayman side playing with 14 men for much of the 2nd half and gave Middlebury the opportunity to mount a late charge for the win but thanks to 2 Robbie Cribb Penalties and 2 Robbie Cribb conversions the Stiguanas held on to win by 9 points 30-21

On Tuesday 4 February the two top ranked teams in the 2014 Alex Alexander Memorial Trophy series (the Queensgate Bank Pigs Trotters RFC and the Advance Fire and Plumbing Buccaneers RFC) took on Middlebury and much like the Stiguanas before them struggled early on against the feisty visitors. The Caymanians were down 12-0 before they reacted and 2 tries in quick succession (including a well worked chip and chase from Pigs Trotter center Keswick Wright) brought them equal with the visitors.

The “Puccs” took the lead with another converted try but rather than play safe consolidated rugby to see out the win the Cayman men decided to play the Americans at their own brand of up-tempo rugby by spreading the ball out wide. The “champagne rugby” tactic didn’t work with the numerous handling errors and turn-overs for the Puccs and with only 5 minutes on the clock the Cayman side saw their slender 4 point lead turn into a bitterly disappointing 10 point loss 29-19.

With the series now at 1-1 and all to play for it is now down to Cayman’s National Men’s XV’s side to takeon Middlebury at 4pm on Friday.

Games are free to watch live at the Cayman Rugby Club in South Sound or on www.caymanrugbytv.com
 

 

 

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CEO panel to tackle youth, crime and education

| 06/02/2014 | 6 Comments

(CNS): With Cayman’s Jeffery Webb, the president of CONCACAF, headlining at this year’s Fidelity CEO conference later this month, organisers have revealed that he will be joining the panel discussion on youth crime and education at the event, as well as delivering his own presentation. On the panel Webb will answer questions on why sport in Cayman is not necessarily helping enough youngsters stay out of trouble. Alongside Webb will be the outspoken and candid Johan Moxam, who is now the president of the Chamber of Commerce, and three other local leaders, who are yet to be revealed. The public is being invited to submit questions for the panellist, which will cover the local hot button topics.

Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday about this year’s event, which is now called the Cayman Economic Outlook, Fidelity group chair Anwer Sunderji said they would do all they could to ensure a lively and provocative the panel debate, which is usually a highlight of the conference. Last year, with the election approaching, the no-show by McKeeva Bush, who has just been ousted as premier with the help of his former colleagues, left opposition leader at the time, now Premier Alden McLaughlin, and former deputy premier Rolston Anglin falling over each other to agree, leaving  just Ellio Solomon to stir up a different point of view.

However, in past years the panel has created sparks and some interesting positions and Sunderji saidhe was hoping that when the full panel was assembled, the combination of personalities and the right questions submitted by the public will see them express themselves honestly about what has gone wrong with education, what is leading young people into crime and what else can be done to stem the rising tide and give young people hope and a better experience in school.

Ahead of the panel discussion, conference organisers have lined up a number of interesting speakers that will be talking about what they see ahead for the world economy and Cayman’s position in it. Speakers include, Webb who will be talking about the transforming power of sport.

With the rebranding of the conference for a more modern look, Brett Hill, President & CEO, Fidelity Bank (Cayman) Limited said there would be a number of other new touches to what everyone hopes will be a capacity conference.

“The aim with CEO is to significantly boost interest and attendance, especially by attracting a sophisticated audience from further afield. We’ve carefully looked at every element of the event experience – before, during and after and determined how each could be improved,” said Brett Hill, President & CEO, Fidelity Bank (Cayman) Limited. “Our audience this year will note improvements across the myriadof touch points, plus the addition of new tactical features including web and social media platforms, a dramatic new stage setting and outdoor marketing in play during the countdown to this year’s event.”

The conference is also a month later this year and organisers confirmed that the move to February will be permanent as it moves it away from the very peak of the tourist season and a clash with the World Economic Forum that usually takes place around the same time in Davos and can be something of a distraction from the local event.

For more details on the conference and to submit questions go to www.fidelityceo.com.

Related article on CNS Business

Webb ‘bait’ for conference

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Social media could help cops

| 06/02/2014 | 27 Comments

(CNS): Updated According to social media exchanges, at least one or two of Cayman’s most wanted criminals are not hiding very well. Local police released a list of seven men that they have listed as ‘wanted’ with the international crime fighting and intelligence agency, Interpol. Dan Kelly (left) is one of those men and those who know him say he is alive and well and living in Birmingham, according to Facebook posts. Kelly absconded while on bail sometime in 2013 awaiting trial for a local daylight robbery at the Caribbean Bakery in West Bay back in 2010. In addition, social media comments have also revealed that Richard Hurlston, who also skipped bail ahead of his trial for kidnapping, is in Honduras and has been spotted frequently by locals visiting that country.

In the wake of news that Hassan Syed, the former president of the local university who is wanted for theft in relation to some CI$200,000, was collared and taken into custody in Switzerland last year as he was on the Interpol list, the hunt for local fugitives has returned to the news but it seems that several of them are spotted quite frequently and their whereabouts has been posted on social media.

According to one Facebook exchange, Kelly is living somewhere in the northwest of the inner city of the Midlands town and has been for some time. While he has never answered the charges, his co-accused, Derek Simpson, pleaded guilty and was given a three year sentence. Hurlston, who is alleged to be the mastermind behind the abduction of Tyson Tatum, is said to be a frequent feature at Goloson International Airport in la Ceiba, where he regularly collects his mail from Cayman. Although he too has yet to face justice regarding the crime, three other men were convicted and jailed in connection with the kidnapping.

The other wanted men listed by the RCIPS with Interpol include Arthur Screaton, who is Canadian and has been wanted since 2013 for theft from a local bar. He also absconded while on bail. Dorley Taylor, a Nicaraguan national, is wanted for theft and Shawn Mourao, a South African who was working here as a tour boat captain, is wanted on suspicion of sexual assault on a cruise ship passenger.

It is not clear, however, how much the local police use social media as a way to gather intelligence. Last year it was revealed by CNS that prisoners were frequently using Facebook to communicate from inside the cells on smuggled smart phones, and during astring of gang related murder investigations in 2011 police appeared unaware of the pictures and information related gang members were posting about the rivalry and posing with weapons.

CNS has contacted the RCIPS which told us Thursday afternoon that it uses all possible resources.“As a modern police service we utilise any and all legal opportunities available to us to gather evidence and information relative to criminal activity,” a police spokesperson stated but made no comment regarding the current cases mentioned.

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Pet Yorkshire terrier killed in dog attack

| 06/02/2014 | 73 Comments

(CNS): As issues surrounding dangerous dogs mount, police have confirmed that they are investigating a report from a pet owner whose Yorkshire terrier was mauled and killed by a dog while she was walking it in the Fairbanks area of George Town. With increasing reports and anecdotal evidence that people are becoming anxious to walk their pets or even go out to take exercise at night due to the apparent increasing number of vicious and seemingly uncontrolled animals on the streets, this attack underscores the points raised recently by local activist Sandra Catron, who is now calling for a dog court to deal with owners who mistreat or neglect pets.

The growing number of animals that are roaming the streets unleashed and without muzzles may also indicate that many have been abandoned. However, the Department of Agriculture does not appear to have the necessary resources to round up the ‘homeless’ former pets that are increasingly more than just a nuisance but becoming downright dangerous.

Not all incidents and attacks are reported as a result of the confusion between which agency deals with the Animals Law and reports regarding dangerous animals and related attacks. The RCIPS told CNS that they are the first call for service in the event of ferocious dogs at large or reports of attacks.

Inspector Adrian Seales said that many of the reports that are made to the Animal Control Unit are often regarding people in possession of prohibited dogs, such as the Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. He said the Agriculture Department can also receive prohibited dog reports as well.

“The Animal Control Officer at the Agriculture Department work in partnership with the police," he said. “In incidents where police action is not required by complainants the Animal Control Officer is authorized to remove the animal if it comes to their attention. Dog owners are culpable for any injuries/damages done by their animals and on summary conviction are subject to a fine of CI $5000.00 and to imprisonment for 6 months,” he warned.

However, as previously reported, Sandra Catron’s pet Coco was subject to numerous attacks by a neighbouring dog, and despite constant reports, the animal was not removed until she took her complaint to the governor.

With anecdotal reports of dogs even leaping over fences to bite humans as well as the tragic news of the death of the Yorkshire terrier, Catron believes it is time the local authorities introduced a specialist dog court where irresponsible owners or those who are cruel to animals can be appropriately dealt with and to raise awareness about how to care for animals.

In the meantime, however, Catron states that the authorities must take more notice of these types of complaints and enforce the law.

“This issue is much more widespread than the authorities realize and are willing to admit. Sadly most people are not reporting the deaths or damages caused by these dangerous dogs. It’s now time for this matter to be taken seriously. The DPP needs to prosecute negligent dog owners for the damage their dogs are causing people,” she told CNS.

“Persons have contacted me about being afraid to go walking with their children because of rogue dogs. That’s just not the way a civil society works. Now, I am hopeful more members of this community will demand enforcement of the Animal Law and prosecutions. If my ordeal with Coco now gives people the knowledge and courage to do so, then it was worth it,” Catron added.

The activists also said that she believes most responsible dogs owners would put muzzles on their pets in public if government introduces a mandatory requirement.. “I would be willing to muzzle my dog to ensure that all dogs are protected. This would decrease the chances of serious injury," she said.

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‘Punch n play’ case collapses

| 06/02/2014 | 25 Comments

(CNS): A jury of four women and three men were directed to find a couple accused of forging two winning supermarket scratch cards not guilty on Wednesday before the trial even began because the crown was unable to produce the evidence required to prosecute the three year old case. Following two days of legal arguments this week, the failure of the crown to be able to produce the necessary verification required to support a fundamental piece of evidence led the judge to dismiss an application by prosecuting counsel for an adjournment as correspondence produced by the crown demonstrated it was very unlikely to get the evidence any time soon.

As a result, Andre and Sasha Espeut, who were accused of forging cards showing they had won $1,000 and $2,500 respectively in the ‘punch n play’ summer promotion by Fosters Food Fair were released by the court after three years of waiting for their case to be heard.

The crown had claimed the couple had doctored winning cards, which were only valued at $1, to misrepresent their winnings, an allegations denied by the couple. The basic evidence in the case against the couple, the crown had claimed, was a spreadsheet supplied by the company that makes the cards, which listed the numbers of winning tickets.

However, the origin and accuracy of the spreadsheet was in question, and despite having reviewed the case many times over the last three years, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the police officers investigating all failed to address the fundamental fact that there was no supporting evidence from the people who had produced the spreadsheet to meet the standards of evidence required in law.

As a result, on Tuesday Justice Charles Quin, who presided over the case, ruled that it was inadmissible following an application by defence attorneys Lucy Organ and Fiona Robertson from Samson & McGrath, who were representing the couple.

With the crucial evidence in its case against the Esputes thrown out, Toyin Salako, prosecuting counsel, asked for time to contact the company that made the cards. Following communication between the RCIPS and Scratch Off, the makers of the cards based in Ohio, the firm told the officer in the case that it would need several weeks to contact its legal department in order to supply information. 

Nevertheless, the crown made an application for a further 24 hour adjournment Wednesday, which Justice Quin declined. With the defence objecting to the adjournment on the grounds that their clients had been waiting for trial since 2010, the judge was extremely sympatheticto the defence team, who had also pointed to the ongoing adjournments and reviews of this case over the last three years. The attorneys said they failed to understand how the crown was still missing what it had described as “fundamental information” for the case.

The case had first appeared in Summary Court in late 2010, where it remained until January 2012, when the coupled elected a jury trial. A trial date was then vacated until after a related case was dealt with and a new trial date was fixed for July of last year. However, for reasons unrelated to the defence, the trial was postponed again until this week.

Given that the crown admitted that it could take weeks before they could find the information necessary to verify the evidence, if at all, the judge pointed out the futility of a twenty-four hour adjournment sought by crown counsel, as he asked the jury to render a not guilty verdict and acquit the couple.

Throughout the case it was noted that Salako had not conducted the matter during the delays and had inherited the case a matter of days before the trial, despite the concerns raised by the judge regarding the public prosecutor’s office and the officers in the case, who had over the last three years failed to pick up on the fundamental error.

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CNS reporter ‘wheel-less’ after new bike nicked

| 06/02/2014 | 44 Comments

(CNS): Thieves made off with CNS reporter Wendy Ledger’s bicycle, Tuesday/Wednesday in a daring crime leaving the hard working journalist wheel-less in her pursuit of local news. Ledger was fuming when her brand new 2-wheeled chum was pilfered from outside her own apartment in West Bay where it was locked up. Ledger, who has reported the theft to the district police station, said it is the fourth set of wheels she has had stolen over the last few years, despite being securely chained, but this time the bike was not even five weeks old before it was nicked.

Trying to go green and use her bike instead of her car to cut down on her carbon footprint wherever possible, the CNS reporter said she couldn’t believe that thieves had taken the new bike, saying that she was hoping that she could get at least six months use from this one before it was taken by the velocipede villains.

“I expect I will have to run around now to gather news in order to try and stay green, but I liked that bike,” she said. “I’ve reported it to the local police but somehow, given their caseload, I don’t expect it will be top of the agenda. But I’m not given up without a fight and if I see that bike under anyone else's backside I’m getting it back,” she said with steely determination. “You never know, someone might spot it or maybe even the thieves might take pity on me when they realize I’m just as skint as they are and bring it back.”

If anyone sees Ledger’s new bike or if those who now have possession of it realize she needs it more than they do and they have “A Road to Damascus moment”, please contact her on 926-6816 or email wendyledger@caymannewsservice.com.

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