Archive for March 25th, 2014

Cops crack down on tinted windows

| 25/03/2014 | 31 Comments

(CNS): Local police were pulling over drivers at the weekend as they engaged in a crackdown on tinted car windows and the visibility of number plates. In the past the police have mounted such offensives during periods of heightened crime or gang related activity. Although CNS understands from several sources that a number of gun shots were fired at a local late night spot in George Town at the weekend, RCIPS officials have said that no reports were made to police. During the roadside operation on Friday, 21 March targeting unsafe tint on side windows and windscreens, cops netted 17 offenders who they said had tint restricting light transmission under the prescribed limit required by law.

Police said they would be continuing with these operations and warned drivers about the law.

“The Traffic Regulations, 2012 stipulates that the top of the front windscreen may have a strip of tinted glass of any degree of light transmission not exceeding six inches in width, measured from the top of the windscreen,” a police spokesperson explained, adding, “The front side windows shall allow a minimum of thirty-five percent of light transmission whether the glass is tinted by the manufacturer or any other person". 

"The rear side windows and rear windscreen shall allow a minimum of fifteen percent light transmission. Tint applied to vehicles’ windows and windscreens is deemed unsafe if light transmission in either direction is less than the prescribed light transmission under the regulations. Unsafe tint is an offence and punishable under the Traffic Law, 2011 and liable on summary conviction to a fine of two thousand five hundred dollars, or to imprisonment to six months, or to both,” the spokesperson added.

Advising motorists to remove license plate covers that have the effect of changing the appearance or legibility of any of the characters of the registration plates, the police said the plates should be readable in good daylight (with the aid of glasses or contact lenses, if worn) at a distance of sixty feet.  Drivers who are non-compliant commit an offence and are liable on conviction to a fine of $300 or even six months jail time. The RCIPS said rear plate lights should be in good working order to illuminate at number plates so as to render it readable at thirty feet and motorists are also committing an offence if they drive without lights on their plates with the fine being as high as $2500 or six months imprisonment.

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Cayman becomes part of tsunami warning system

| 25/03/2014 | 11 Comments

(CNS): Cayman now has its own tsunami sensor in George Town Harbour, making the islands part of the Caribbean Tsunami Warning Programme. Funded by UNESCO, it was installed by the German company OTT, which was contracted to also install five other new stations in the Caribbean. Helping the region to stay one step ahead of the natural ocean hazard, the high precision sensors work by monitoring sea level. Meanwhile, Hazard Management Cayman Islands and other government agencies were taking part in a tsunami warning exercise Wednesday to assess response plans, increase preparedness and improve coordination throughout the region.

The sensor will send data via satellite to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) in Hawaii and other international scientific institutes. If an unusual change in sea level is detected, especially after an earthquake event, scientists analyse the data and decide whether a tsunami warning should be issued to Islands and countries that could potentially be impacted by the wave. The Cayman componentuses both radar and pressure sensors to measure sea level, and data is also recorded locally and will be used by the Department of Environment, Lands and Survey and the National Weather Service for various research projects.

The representative from OTT, Ronan O’Matiu, was assisted by staff from Hazard Management Cayman Islands, Lands and Survey, the Port Authority and the Department of Environment (DOE). Staff from DOE used underwater drilling equipment to secure the sensors to the pier wall in the harbour.

The continuously transmitted sea level data from the sensors will be made available on the Cayman Prepared website. Hazard Management Cayman Islands currently receives emergency messages about tsunamis from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. It is anticipated that Cayman will begin to receive messages from the Caribbean Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) in Puerto Rico once the Centre goes fully operational.

During Wednesday’s exercise Cayman will be facing a fictitious tsunami triggered by an imaginary 8.5 earthquake located approximately 270 km off the coast of Portugal. As a result, a widespread tsunami warning and watch situation occurs throughout the Caribbean requiring implementation of local tsunami response plans.

A number of local agencies will be participating in the exercise including 911, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Cayman Islands National Weather Service and Government Information Services.

The aim is to allow government agencies to review and enhance existing national tsunami plans including the notification procedure, local warning phases for alerting the public and response services and to complete the evaluation form for Caribe Wave 2014. It will provide an opportunity to review local equipment and capabilities and identify long, medium and short issues for tsunami preparedness and response planning, and media templates.

Historical tsunami records from sources such as the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) show that over 75 tsunamis with high validity have been observed in the Caribbean over the past 500 years. These represent some 7–10% of the world’s oceanic tsunamis. Earthquake, landslide, and volcanic tsunami sources have all impacted the region. Since 1842 almost 3,500 people have lost their lives to tsunamis in the Caribbean.

In addition to tsunamis, the region also has a long history of destructive earthquakes. Historical records show that major earthquakes have struck the Caribbean region many times during the past 500 years.

Within the region there are multiple fault segments and submarine features that could be the source of earthquake and landslide generated tsunamis. The perimeter of the Caribbean plate is bordered by no fewer than four major plates (North American, South American, Nazca, and Cocos). Subduction occurs along the Eastern and Northeastern Atlantic margins of the Caribbean plate. Normal, transform and strike slip faulting characterize northern South America, eastern Central America, the Cayman Ridge and Trench and the Northern plate boundary (Benz et al, 2011).

As well as local and regional sources, the region is also threatened by teletsunamis or trans-Atlantic tsunamis, like that of 1755. A major earthquake occurs about every 50 years in the Caribbean, and the possibility of a resulting tsunami is real and should be taken seriously, officials warned.

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4 years prison for trust thief

| 25/03/2014 | 46 Comments

(CNS): A 46-year-old woman who stole $437,300 from a company and trust registered with the law firm where she was an employee and trustee has been handed a four year prison sentence and ordered to pay $44,600 compensation. After an enquiry by the court into the remaining assets of Patricia Glasgow, Justice Charles Quin ordered the payment, during a hearing on Tuesday, of just a fraction of the original money she had pilfered over a three year period, as that was all the court could identify as potential assets still owned by Glasgow. Pointing to the major breach of trust, the sustained offending and her lack of remorse, the judge started with five years and gave her a 20% reduction for her belated guilty plea.

At first, the West Bay woman had denied stealing the cash when she was a trustee for Rochester Ltd, an offshore company and trust set up by Bodden Corporate Services Ltd, where Glasgow worked, to assist animal and environmental charities. The three year theft, in which Glasgow made more than 70 fraudulent transaction, was committed between September 2008 and August 2011, when she was made redundant.

When she was arrested, Glasgow claimed the money was a loan as she was friendly with the trust's founder and she had needed it to pay off a man who she claimed was blackmailing her over explicit photos he had of her that he threatened to expose. However, Glasgow was unable to provide the police with any details of the amounts she had paid, how he got the pictures, who he was or any details of the blackmail. She simply said he had returned to Jamaica and then had stopped asking for money.

Having pleaded not guilty last July, Glasgow was set to face trial in June this year but in November she had a change of heart and admitted stealing the money and pleaded guilty to theft, obtaining money transfers by deception and forging documents. Following her guilty pleas, however, Glasgow then sold the family house in which she lived to her brother. After paying back money to the government that she had received as part of the UDP administration’s 'save the mortgage' scheme, as well as her mortgage to the bank and a number of other debts, she paid the remaining $75,000 into her brother’s account but made no effort to pay back the victims of the theft.  

The court ordered an enquiry as a result of Glasgow's failure to even offer or try to make any payments, given the funds she had appeared to give to her brother for advance rent and possibly safe keeping.

However, the court found that a large portion of the $75,000 had gone while she was awaiting trial and unemployed and the remaining sum that the court could access was just $44,600, which it ordered should go to the trust. The judge advised the victims that they would have to continue their civil suit if they were to try and get back any more of the outstanding sum. Having spent US$390,000, the court heard that there was no clear evidence of what exactly Glasgow had spent the money on. Her attorney stated that she had used it to supplement her income as a single mother in an expensive jurisdiction

As he handed down the four year sentence, Justice Quin explained that he considered the sum stolen to be significant, placing the crime in the higher bracket when it came to the chief justice’s guidelines. Acknowledging the recent findings by the Court of Appeal that inflation must be taken into consideration when calculating amounts stolen for sentencing purposes, he said there was no expert evidence before him about the rate of inflation impacting the figure.

The court, he added, “could not be expected to engage in a mathematical exercise” to arrive at a precise figure. The judge said that on any view it was a large sum, and together with the extensive breach of trust, the impact that this type of crime has on the whole financial services sector and the “sustained nature of the criminal conduct”, the offence fell into the lower end of the highest bracket, as he pointed to five years being an appropriate sentence for the theft. The judge reduced it by 20% for the late guilty plea and ordered a four year term and a further twelve months to run concurrently for the other two offences of which she was convicted.

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Witness ‘lied for new life’

| 25/03/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The lawyer representing Raziel Jeffers, accused of murdering Damion Ming, said the crown's key witness was making up theallegations against his client as part of a campaign of revenge for the way he treated her, and also to buy a new life in witness protection. He said she had received over $70,000 since she and her son were taken into protective custody four years ago. During cross examination Michael Wolkind QC pulled apart claims by Jeffers' former girlfriend that she had heard a detailed confession from him that he was Ming's killer during the weekend following the murder, as telephone records didn't tally with her alleged sequence of events. Accusing her of being a "quick, easy and natural liar" the attorney goaded her into confessing to the false allegations.

Despite admitting that she was uncertain about the sequence of events leading up to when the confession was made that weekend, the witness did not waver on her position that at some point Jeffers had given her a detailed account of how he shot and killed her friend Damion Ming in West Bay during March 2010.

However, the attorney pressed his client’s position emphatically that the allegations were a "pack of lies" she made up to get back at the man who she believed had treated her badly, as well as to stop his family from trying to take her child.

Attacking her character and credibility he brought up the details of what was evidently a life of drug abuse from a young age. He highlighted a clear lack of stability in her life with her father dying when she was very young and her mother leaving her in the care of aunts and sisters. He described her association with abusive alleged gangsters as being sexually active from just twelve years old, and that she had had attempted suicide at least once.

He said she had been led to exact revenge, which she had bragged to others about, because of her fear of Jeffers family's goal to take custody of the child because of her instability, Jeffers rejection of her and because she had nowhere to go.  The attorney painted her as a moaning, mean spirited person who had threatened to kill Jeffers in his sleep and who was angry that he did not love her. He also said that far from being jealous of her and Ming, Jeffers thought and cared very little for her.

Wolkind pressed the witness to admit that she had heard the details of the alleged confession not from Jeffers but from general gossip and from another witnesses at the scene. She then used that information to extract revenge. He suggested that while she was violent towards Jeffers he had been only emotionally abusive to her, rejecting her as his girlfriend.

The lawyer said that the police were paying for her and her child to go to school, and that they were paying her rent, utilities, medical and day to day expenses while she was living overseas under witness protection. He also said she had boasted about this to others. In exchange for saying what she did, Wolkind implied that the witness had bought herself a new easier life with the false allegations she had made about her former boyfriend in a campaign of revenge brought about because Jeffers did not love her as she had loved him.

Despite the discrepancies and inconsistencies highlighted by the defense lawyer, over who called who when and where, the witness stood firm that the confession about the murder of Damion Ming came from Raziel Jeffers and it was he who had told her the details of the killing. She admitted to being afraid that his family wanted to take her child in the same way they had taken two of Jeffers six other children from at least one of his baby mothers. But she said she went to the police because he had murdered her friend and she wanted to protect her child. She said that she didn’t decide alone to go to the police but claimed that the defendant’snow wife, and her cousin, had at the time also encouraged her to go and tell the police what she knew.

Jeffers former girlfriend admitted her past problems and struggles in life as well as her battle with drug misuse and her sexual relationships with abusive men. She said that the attorney could attack her character all he wanted but it did not change the confession that the father of her child had made to her.

Following the cross examination and a short re-direction from the crown, the witness was released and the prosecution turned to the first of its technical witnesses relating to telephone evidence.

Jeffers is accused of gunning down Damion Ming on 25 March 2010 in a West Bay yard where he was working on a boat. Ming died from two gunshot wounds to the chest and back but Jeffers has denied being the killer.

The trial continues Wednesday in court one.

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Shoes front and centre of crisis centre fundraiser

| 25/03/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The local Crisis Centre is hoping to take advantage of the uniquely female condition of ‘shoe loving’ with its second “A Day In My Shoes” fundraiser next month.  Women are invited to have their photographs taken in the shoes that make them feel most empowered. Participants are able to choose their photo shoot location, anywhere on the island and will receive a mounted canvass of their photograph as well as an invitation to the exhibit launch at the National Gallery later this year.  Their photographs and accompanying stories will appear in the coffee table book that will be sold, with all proceeds going to the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre.

American photographer Amy Martin-Friedman initiated “A Day in My Shoes” in the United States as a means of raising awareness about the impacts of domestic violence and to raise funds for women’s shelters.  She came to the Cayman Islands in 2012 and the effort raised over $15,000 for the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre through the photo shoots, the sales of the coffee table book and ticket sales for the exhibit launch and cocktail reception held at the National Gallery.

On her way back to Cayman this year officials explained that Friedman’s picture won’t feature all models’ faces as some of them will be past clients of the Crisis Centre, who will have their entry fees covered by sponsors.  

“Every woman has a story to tell and every story is important”, said Martin-Friedman.  “They are not always about domestic violence – most of them aren’t – but this is an exercise in the power of sharing and of the empowerment of women”.

This year’s theme is “Empowering Women” and in addition to the models some of Cayman’s most influential women will also be involved. 

“We have received corporate donations to support the inclusion of some photographs of some of the Caymanian women who have made life in Cayman better – through their art, work or other contributions,” said A Day in My Shoes event organiser Janette Goodman.

To sign up as a participant or a sponsor for the event on 2-5 April contact Janette Goodman at janette.goodman@ritzcarlton.com

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Shetty patients due in April

| 25/03/2014 | 21 Comments

(CNS): The first patient to go under the knife at the new Shetty hospital in East End is still two to three weeks away, officials have said, but as a result of patient confidentiality they won’t be able to give much away. As Cayman waits for the facility to kick-start the much hoped for third leg of the economy – medical tourism — a spokesperson for the hospital said the first international patient and first surgery is scheduled in the next two to three weeks. The hospital has not said if Dr Devi Shetty will be wielding the scalpel himself, where the first patient will come from or what type of procedure it will be.

“Due to patient confidentiality we are not presently able to release details in regards to the procedure nor give the exact date, however we are working to see if the patient is willing to sign a waiver to allow some of the high level details to be released,” an official told CNS, adding that whatever happened, the hospital would confirm once the first operation has taken place.

Health City Cayman Islands was officially opened at the end of February and at the time the hospital was hoping to schedule the first patients within ten days. However, so far the wards are empty and no one has yet checked into the state-of-the-art facility.

Although the goal to develop what is eventually toted to be a 2000-bed medical centre, complete with specialist units, assisted living facility, a university and supporting infrastructure, had been dependent on the North American market until the hospital receives the necessary accreditation, it will be concentrating on seeking out patients in the region and Latin America. The hospital will also be taking local patients who would previously have been sent overseas for treatment.

The 140 bed hospital is equipped with the latest technology and there are high hopes that it will see Cayman become a centre of medical excellence in the region.

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Court coverage under review

| 25/03/2014 | 3 Comments

(CNS): How the local media reports criminal court proceedings is under review and the Law Reform Commission is asking the public to weigh in on the debate about how press freedom can be better balanced with the right to a fair trial and the proper dispensation of justice. Coverage of the local courts is governed by the sub judice element of the contempt laws, which are similar to those in UK, but in comparison to US media coverage, the rules are considerably more restrictive. Also, there is no law in Cayman that allows journalists to protect sources if they are forced to reveal them by a court and reporters who refuse to doso can go to jail.

While the UK has now abolished the concept of scandalizing the court, which prevents the local media from making the merest hint that a judge may not be performing at his best, the rule remains in Cayman.

As a result of uncertainty over the extent to which the current sub judice rules are limiting the press coverage of the criminal courts and because of a tendency for the media to err on the side of caution rather than risk the potential strict interpretation of the law, many media houses do not cover court proceedings at all, despite the very real and important public interest and the need to ensure justice is not dispensed in unintended secrecy.

Public interest alone at present is no defence for the liability a media house or reporter can have if they publish something that turns out to prejudice a trial, regardless of their intention or if they were unaware of proceedings. This means that covering any kind of legal proceedings that could end up before a jury may place a media house at risk.

The Law Reform Commission has said it wants to make the rules clearer and less ambiguous. The legal experts have raised concerns that the sub judice element of the contempt laws may have a “chilling effect” on the freedom of expression and may also fall foul of the Bill of Rights. Nevertheless, the commission is also keen to prevent any potential prejudice to criminal proceedings.

“We believe that the current law is unduly restrictive of the right of the media to report and comment on particular legal proceedings and may very well not be compliant with the bill of rights,” the law reformers warned about the current law in a discussion paper circulated for comment.

Cayman has engaged in considerable public debate over what the press can and cannot report over the years and the issue of comment on legal cases. From the naming and shaming of child sex offenders to comments on the sentences handed down, a number of sticky legal subjects have fuelled controversy.

With the law applying from the time of the arrest, so that coverage of the case is restricted until the end of the proceedings, journalists sometimes walk a tightrope to balance fairness with public interest. For example, the press may often be called upon to help police get the word out about an escaped prisoner on remand or a wanted man who may be considered dangerous but who is not yet convicted of any crime. The publicity required to protect the public and apprehend a suspect can then very easily become prejudicial down the line when the trial begins.

Regardless of the strict rules that the law reformers say need to be addressed locally, the advent of a global media on the worldwide web throws up many challenges. While journalists locally may be held accountable and restricted in their coverage and comment, those reporting on proceedings here from overseas online can write far more without fear of prosecution, presenting further challenges that need to be considered in the modern media  world.

Members of the public can submit comments on the discussion paper by April 21. Officials said they can be posted to the Director, Law Reform Commission, P.O. Box 1999 KY1-1104, delivered by hand to the offices of the Commission at the first floor of dms House, Genesis Close, George Town, or emailed to Cheryl.Neblett@gov.ky.

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Killing approved from jail

| 25/03/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The key witness in the crown's case against Raziel Jeffers for the murder of Damion Ming in March 2010 told the court that he had received the OK to kill Ming from inside HMP Northward. Jeffers’ former girlfriend, who was living with him at time of the murder, told the jury how he had made a detailed confession to her about how he shot the man he believed was her lover. The woman, who was only 18 at the time of the killing and is now in witness protection, gave a detailed account of the confession she claims Jeffers made to her a few days after Ming was gunned down in West Bay. She told the court that Jeffers was given the nod from inside the jail, acquired a gun and then made his way toBirch Tree Hill, where he had been told Ming was working on a boat.

The witness told the court that on the night of the shooting she was already suspicious that it was the father of her child that had killed a man she described as a long-time friend and with whom she denied ever having a sexual relationship.

However, Jeffers believed that she had had a relationship with Ming in the past and while she was still with him. Jeffers was also aware that Ming had lent her money and was convinced that no man would give any woman money without having had sex with her. He was angry too that of all men she had picked to have an affair with, she had chosen his gang rival and enemy, Damion Ming.

She said that on the night Ming was killed, although she and Jeffers were reconciled and living together, they had argued earlier that day. She said he had disappeared for two days and she believed he was with another girl. He had returned that evening to where they were staying in George Town but told her he was going out again. Despite her efforts to stop him, he left with friends and locked her in the house. She said that Jeffers had called her about 30 minutes after the time Ming was reportedly shot and said, "I heard the boy Ming just got touched up," implying his gang rival had been killed.

Although distraught, she said that she had remained silent as she was fearful that he had something to do with it. She said she knew Jeffers had access to guns and she described him as a "serious gangster".

A few days later, she said, Jeffers related the events of the evening and detailed how he had killed Ming. In his confession he told her that it was a good job he had not listened to her the night Ming was shot and stayed home otherwise it never would have happened – suggesting he may have missed the chance to kill his rival. Instead, having gone out to West Bay, he told her that everything came together and had fallen into place "like a puzzle", as though it was meant to be.

She revealed that Jeffers had been given the "express permission to use a gun" to kill Ming from an unnamed individual who was an inmate at the prison. She said he told her he had collected the gun, which was a nine millimetre, sometime before. He had not told her from where, but it was hidden at a yard in West Bay.

Ahead of the killing he collected the gun, borrowed a bicycle and said he had dressed in what he termed his "Ninja suit", an outfit he wore when he was undertaking a "mission", the court heard.

According to the witness, Jeffers told her he then made his way to the yard in Birch Tree Hill via the back route and waited under cover of darkness at the side of the house. Jeffers described to her how he watched Ming crouching down by the boat and when he stood up, he stepped out directly in front of him and opened fire.

She said Jeffers told her the first shot struck Ming in the shoulder area and his victim spun around from the impact, so he fired again at his back. Ming then fell down but tried to crawl under the boat. Jeffers had said that he waited a few seconds and then opened fire again before leaving the scene.

Jeffers' former girlfriend told the court that she asked no questions as he made his confession as she had not wanted to know anything about what he was saying. She said that as he relayed the information he was excited and seemed proud that he had killed Ming.

During the course of her evidence she told the court of the tumultuous relationship she had with Jeffers and that she was afraid of him. She spoke about seeing him with guns, including an AK47, and hearing him talk about the access he had to the Birch Tree Hill gang's firearms.

She also revealed that at first she had covered up for Jeffers but later told the police what she knew as a result of a change in both her own and Jeffers’ circumstances. She said when Jeffers was arrested and held in custody on a different matter and because she was not living in his family's house she felt more comfortable telling the police what he had told her. She also said that the second time she was questioned about the killing it was by UK police rather than local officers, implying she felt safer with those who were not so directly connected to the community.

Following her evidence in chief led by prosecuting counsel, Andrew Radcliff, QC, the defence attorney began his cross examination of the witness on which the crown has hung its entire case against Jeffers, who has denied being the man who killed Ming.

Check back to CNS for a full report Tuesday.

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Courts find early trial date for teen robbery suspect

| 25/03/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 16-year-old boy who has admitted playing a part in the robbery of a North Side supermarket last year but who has denied being armed will face trial next month after the courts were able to secure an early date for the teenager, who is currently remanded in custody. The boy, who cannot be named because of his age, is one of four people charged with the high profile case, which attracted considerable attention when the robbers were caught on film by the police helicopter as they were trying to make their escape following the daylight heist. Although all of the suspects have made various admissions, so far just one has been convicted and sentenced.

The teen, who is the youngest of the group, pleaded guilty earlier this year to the robbery and has admitted that he was one of the two masked men who entered Chisholm's store. However, he has denied having a gun. Despite his insistence that he was not armed when he went into the store with 21-year-old Courtney Bryan, who was armed with an imitation hand gun, the crown is pressing ahead with the charge of possession of an imitation firearm.

As a result, the teen will stand trial on that count. However, with the courts backed up for many months, the teenager was originally told he could expect to wait until October this year before his case would be heard but the age of the youngster saw court staff work hard to find an earlier date.

Local defence attorney Irwin Banks, who is representing the youngster, told the court Friday that they had managed to find a window of opportunity to hear his case next month.

Meanwhile, Bryan, who admitted participating in the robbery and having an imitation weapon, was sentenced in January to four years in jail by Justice Charles Quin following his guilty plea. Bryan (21) admitted entering the store where he robbed the 83-year-old owner and her granddaughter of jewellery, a phone, cigarettes and around $300 in cash. However, two other men accused of playing a part in the crime have pleaded guilty to much lesser offences.

Odain Lloyd Ebanks (18) has admitted handling stolen goods and Ian Fernando Ellington (29) to being an accessory after the fact. Ebanks claimed he was in the car with Ellington when he picked up Bryan and the teenager but he knew nothing he said of the crime. He said it was only when the robbers were passing around the stolen cigarettes that he realized what was happening and admitted touching a packet of cigarettes, which he threw out of the speeding car that was being chased by both a police vehicle and the RCIPS helicopter. Ellington also states that he had not played a part in planning the crime other than to picking up the two robbers and giving them a ride.

Ellington is expected to be sentenced on Thursday by Justice Charles Quin, but following that judge’s rejection of a basis of plea accepted by the crown that dropped the charges from robbery to handling stolen goods, Ebanks case will now be heard by Justice Alex Henderson next week.

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