Archive for April 10th, 2014

Students scoop Commonwealth essay contest awards

| 10/04/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Seventeen students from government and private schools have received prizes for winning the 2013 Commonwealth Essay Competition, organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS).  Nine of the students were international competition winners that judges selected from among 11,000 entries from 55 Commonwealth countries and territories.  The theme for both the local and international segments was Opportunity through Enterprise. Five students from St. Ignatius Catholic School received international recognition including two gold awards, one silver and two bronzes. St Ignatius also took home the Elliott cup. Layman E. Scott High School earned one gold while Cayman Prep and High collected two silvers and a bronze.

The winners were: Taurean Cox – St. Ignatius Catholic – senior bronze and Elliott cup winner;
Aniela McGrath – St. Ignatius Catholic School– junior gold;
Abijith Anu – Layman E. Scott High School, Cayman Brac – junior silver;
Matilda Copley Kyne – St. Ignatius Catholic School – junior silver;
Finn Lovegrove, Rishaa Patel and Zephan Deosaran – all from Cayman Prep and High School – junior silver; and Arjun Dhanasekar and Isha Rankin – St. Ignatius Catholic School – junior bronze.

In the local competition, George Town Primary School (GTPS) won three gold awards and a silver award. Red Bay Primary (RBPS) received two silvers while John Gray High earned a silver and Prospect Primary one bronze.

 Local winners were: Senior silver: Oneka Thompson – John Gray High;
Junior gold: Alec Harding, Leah Robinson and Joshua O’Garro – all GTPS;
Junior silver: Makeda Harris – GTPS; Matthew Leslie and Philip Mathura – RBPS;
Junior bronze: Alexander Thompson – Prospect Primary.

Presenting the awards at a reception that she hosted for the winners, parents, teachers and local organisers on Thursday, 27 March 2014 at Government House, Governor, Helen Kilpatrick said that the students should feel justifiably proud of these accomplishments.
MLA Winston Connolly praised the young people for their accomplishments, and thanked the RCS for providing them with an opportunity to hone their creative writing skills and individual talents. He exhorted the winners to continue to work hard to further develop their abilities.

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Robber left pile of clues

| 10/04/2014 | 22 Comments

(CNS): A 34-year-old man made easy work for the RCIPS when he left a pile of incriminating evidence just yards away from the scene of a daylight robbery. One of four men arrested in connection with the Sprint courier hold-up outside a local insurance firm on 4 October 2012, Manuel Carter, not only left his jeans by the abandoned getaway car with the loaded gun used in the robbery in the front pocket, the pants also contained his wallet with his driver’s licence and other identifying information. DNA and fingerprints from him and two of his co-conspirators were also left on the car, which led the police to arrest three members of the criminal gang in West Bay early in the case. Brandon Liberal was the fourth man arrested in the joint enterprise over a year later.

Carter and Liberal had originally pleaded not guilty and a trial was set for February, and despite the selection of a jury, both men made a 'court house door’ admission ahead of the crown opening its case against them.

A third man, John Cohen, who admitted his part in the crime at a much early stage, also gave evidence to the police against his co-conspirators. He is awaiting sentence for his part in the daylight heist in the car park of BritCay Insurance in Eastern Avenue, George Town. Meanwhile, the fourth robber, Tarick Crawford (18), who was said to have driven one of the two getaway cars to the scene, has not yet made any formal admissions in the case as his fitness to plead to the crime remains in dispute.

Appearing before Justice Quin on Thursday for sentencing, Carter and Liberal stood convicted of robbery and possession of an unlicensed firearm. The court heard from the director of public prosecutions, Cheryl Ricahrds, QC, that Carter was the masked man who held up the courier driver as he came out of the BritCay offices with the money deposits.

Carter made off into a white getaway car being driven by Cohen with some $8,500 dollars in local and US currency as well as a number of cheques. The men sped off down Eastern Avenue and then turned into Bodden Road and abandoned that car in a side road behind Puritan Cleaners. It was there that the men took the cash from the courier bag but left the cheques, envelops and deposit slips on the ground.

Carter also changed clothes but left his jeans pants containing a lighter, a cigarette butt, the hand gun and even his wallet before getting into a second grey getaway vehicle driven by Liberal, who took both him and Cohen back to West Bay.

The men left DNA and finger prints in and on the white car, which was quickly found by police and all four men were recorded on CCTV by the security camera in the Kirks Home Centre car park. Police were also later to secure telephone evidence connecting the gang. The court heard that the men had planned together to execute the robbery and had been watching the office building for some time to see when the courier van came and went in order to plot the crime.

The men had scheduled the heist for 3 October but the hapless robbers were out of luck that day as the courier van never showed up. The next day, however, as the four waited in the car park across the street at Kirks in full view of the CCTV cameras, they communicated via hand held radio.

When the Sprint courier van finally arrived, Liberal was said to have given the code signal for the heist to begin: “the foods on the table”, the court heard and Cohen and Carter sprang into action. The men drove across to the BritCay office, where Carter got out of the car and approached the courier driver, armed with a hand gun, which he pointed at the man’s stomach as he took the cash bag from him.

The robbers escape was short lived as an officer on patrol had heard the details of the robbery on the police radio system and she soon located the white getaway vehicle. Once scenes of crime officers arrived and Carter’s jeans, gun and ID uncovered, the case was not a difficult one to crack.

Following the crown’s outlining of the charges and circumstances against the two men, local attorneys Charles Clifford and John Furniss, representing Carter and Liberal, spoke for their clients. However, the lawyers faced an uphill battle as there was little room for mitigation as the law calls for a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years for a firearms conviction with a possible reduction to seven for a guilty plea.

With 23 previous convictions, ranging from drug possession to burglary and assault, Clifford said that Carter had faced a difficult life and had been failed by the system from an early age. He told the court that Carter, who was born in Cuba to a Cayman father and Cuban mother, could not speak English when he was brought to Cayman at a young age and because he struggled in school with the second language he was a slow learner but was sent to the Lighthouse School, which was an inappropriate environment, Clifford said.

Struggling his entire life with a cocaine addiction, Clifford said his client genuinely wanted to turn his life around and would be seeking to take up the services on offer at the jail to rehabilitate himself. Clifford said his client now found himself called something he never wanted to be because of the drug – a robber,which, he added, had been something of a wake-up call.

Meanwhile, with no serious previous convictions and having played a lesser role in the robbery as the getaway driver, Liberal had admitted his guilt much sooner, his lawyer noted, and he was not charged until late last year. Furniss asked the court to give full credit to his client, who had been of relative good character with possession of ganja the only previous offence against him before his involvement in armed daylight robbery.

The judge in the case, Justice Charles Quin, listened to the submissions and adjourned that case until 24 April, when he said he would deliver his decision on sentencing as he remanded Carter and Liberal in custody.

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Long road to dump solution

| 10/04/2014 | 42 Comments

(CNS): There will be no quick fixes or immediate solutions to the pressing issue of the George Town landfill, despite the recent fact finding mission by the minister responsible and the premier last week. Osbourne Bodden told his parliamentary colleagues Wednesday that the strategic outline case will be going before cabinet shortly. That would be followed in around four to six weeks by an RFP for consultants to deliver a national waste management strategy. The next stage will be an Outline Business Case. After that the project can finally move towards a procurement process. Setting out the long road ahead, Bodden said that Cayman doesn’t have a waste-management policy and until it does it can’t offer a solution to the dump.

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly, the minister said that the technical Steering Committee has been working on the strategic outline case, which he said would be made public once it reviewed and approved by Cabinet.  That will form the basis for the first RFP for consultants to deliver services in two stages, he added. Bodden explained the first would be the delivery of the national waste management strategy to identify project options for assessment, and the second stage will be the delivery of the Outline Business Case that will look at the best option for the project itself which in turn will form the basis for the procurement and implementation. 

He admitted that the process was going to take time but not, he said an unwarranted delay, as has been suggested

“The process takes time, but I believe it is time well-spent that will help us to ensure we have a project that not only meets our needs, but has identified and considered potential issues, obstacles, and project impediments, and identified ways to address these prior to project implementation,” he said, adding that this would mean, “fewer delays, cost over-runs, and unintended consequences” once the project starts.  “It is effectively ‘front loading’ some of the time, but I am confident that we will see the benefits down the road,” the minister added.
In the meantime, the department of environmental health was making improvements to the George Town Landfill, he said, and examining some short-term improvements for the Cayman Brac landfill as well.

“The Department will continue to make every effort to ensure that the service they provide, and the management of their landfill sites on all three islands, are optimised.  Obviously we need to make sure that any measures we take in the short-term will not negatively impact our ability to implement the long-term solution once it is identified, so we are carefully assessing the improvements as we go to ensure they meet our short-term objectives without unintended long-term consequences,” Bodden said.

On their recent trip to Tampa both Bodden and the premier, Alden McLaughlin  visited four waste-to-energy facilities, two landfills, and one recycling processing centre and saw the waste-to-energy process in action and the different governance structures that he said the government may want to explore as part of the procurement processes.  Dismissing comments that the trip was a waste of time he said he was able to see first-hand what a waste-to-energy facility looks like and experience the conditions in its vicinity.

“It was an incredibly informative trip,” he said. “It has given me an enhanced understanding of waste-to-energy technology, and its possible role in the integrated solid waste management solution for the Cayman Islands.”

Excited about waste-to energy, Bodden said he was not necessarily committed to that technology alone as he said it was up to the steering committee to research and advice on the best solution for the country. 

“The process which they are undertaking is a requirement under our finance law, and it requires careful assessment and consideration of the various components of a project, including financial, environmental, and legal implications and requirements.  The process takes time, but I believe that the approach is well-founded and will result in a better project, with an increased chance of success, for the country,” he added.

The premier justified his reasons for joining the fact finding trip stating that it had given hima much better understanding of the complex issue of solid waste management.

“While I know that some have questioned the utility of the trip and wondered why I went along, I can state without reservation that the trip was very informative and very worthwhile,” he said. “It reinforced my belief in the importance of having an overarching strategy when looking at solid waste management. It is a complex issue with many moving parts, so it is important to take a strategic and rational approach when looking for a solution.  We simply cannot afford to take a piece-meal approach to this problem – we need to look no further than the current situation to know that approach will not lead to a sustainable solution.”

He spoke about the need not to repeat past mistakes and said the procurement process for major projects such as the landfill is outlined in the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility. McLaughlin said the processes now in place were in large part because “of the disastrous consequences of the last tendering exercise” as he pointed to the UDP’s efforts at finding a waste management solution. This time around, he said the procurement process would be transparent and accountable.

“While there have been previous tenders, and there are quite a few studies about this subject, the fact is that the previous iterations were not subjected to the level of research, assessment, and scrutiny that the process currently requires,” the premier added.

See both statements delivered in the LA on Wednesday below

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New road speed limits due next month

| 10/04/2014 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Following the review of and public consultation on the speed limits across the Cayman Islands the National Roads Authority has completed its new speed zones map which will soon be reviewed by Cabinet. Once it meets with approval from the government officials from the NRA said that they expect the new speed limits will be gazetted in May. The changes will include dropping the speed limit on West Bay Road to 30mph, reducing the 50mph speed up in the area of Morritz and Reef resorts in East End and introducing a new 35mph limit in some areas.

The results of the review of the safety of Cayman’s entire road network which was undertaken by  international experts iRAP in January are expected in May or June which will inform further safety regulations to reduce accidents on the local roads an make the ones that happen less likely to fatal or even serious.

In the meantime, the NRA is continuing to utilize various strategies to make the roads safer and is testing countermeasures such as transverse rumble strips and anti-skid coating at some crosswalks and major roundabouts.

“Both the transverse rumble strips and the anti-skid coating are internationally proven methodsof reducing road collisions.  They are especially effective where loss of friction results when rain, oil and other lubricants are deposited on the roadways,” officials stated.

While technical solutions to improve road safety can go a long way in the end safe driving is the surest way to cut down smashes. The NRA encouraged all road users to remain alert to their surroundings and road conditions, follow posted speed limits and obey the rules of the road.

For more information please contact the National Roads Authority (NRA) at 946-7780 and visit the website at www.caymanroads.com

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Suspect charged over gas station forecourt mugging

| 10/04/2014 | 3 Comments

(CNS): A 41-year-old man who was arrested in connection with a robbery on the forecourt of Delworth’s Gas Station on Eastern Avenue in the early hours of Tuesday morning has been charged. The unnamed suspect is accused of mugging a customer at knife point and stealing a pocket full of coins at about 12:30am.  He has been charged with robbery and disorderly conduct at a police station and is due to appear before the Summary Court this morning (Thursday 10 April).

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Local money laundering suspects deny charges

| 10/04/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following revelations on CNS last month that Eric St-Cyr, the owner of a Cayman Islands based asset management company that was caught in a sting operation by US authorities, has denied money laundering charges and has been released on bail. St-Cyr, who is a Canadian national and the owner of Clover Asset Management, along with an employee of the firm, American citizen Joshua VanDyk, pleaded not guilty in a Virginia court this week and will face trial in July. Arrested in Miami by undercover IRS agents, the men are accused of agreeing to launder criminal proceeds for thepurposes of tax evasion.

Attorney Patrick Poulin, who is based in Turks and Caicos, was also caught up in the offence and arrested with the two Cayman financiers as he allegedly assisted with the transfer of the cash through that jurisdiction as well.  Poulin has not yet answered the charges against him as he is still detained in Florida.

St-Cyr was originally remanded in custody but has since made bail, though his passport has been confiscated, preventing him from returning to Cayman, and he has been ordered to set up temporary residence in the area until trial and has posted a US$2 million bond.

According to the indictment, the men were asked by what they thought was a client to help launder ill-gotten gains from a US bank fraud. The men then reportedly created an offshore foundation domiciled in Cayman called "Zero Exposure Inc".

The men allegedly wired $200,000 from the USA last December from a bank in Arlington, Virginia, first to the Turks and Caicos Islands and then a few days later on to Cayman, where the cash was invested.

During the process of the alleged conspiracy, which was meant to see some $2 million laundered through Cayman, the court documents say that Vandyk and St Cyr told the US agents that they charged clients “more to launder criminal proceeds than to assist in tax evasion.”

A resident of Cayman for several years, St-Cry is also an amateur chef, having won the Bon Vivant contest at the 2012 Cayman Cook-off.

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Whistleblower motion fails

| 10/04/2014 | 51 Comments

(CNS): The Progressives and C4C members voted down a motion to adopt the recommendations made by the complaints commissioner to protect whistleblowers in the civil service. North Side MLA Ezzard Miller brought the motion to the Legislative Assembly Wednesday on behalf of the committee with oversight of the complaints commissioner, of which he is chair, saying members were very concerned at the handling, by both senior servants and past political leadership, of previous reports that had dealt with whistleblowing. However, one member, Roy McTaggart, voted against his own committee’s motion and in-line with the rest of the MLAs on the government bench, with the exception of Alva Suckoo, another member of the oversight committee, who abstained.

Referring to the Clifford Report and the Luck Report, both of which had made recommendations regarding whistleblowers that had “not seen light of day”, Miller said that in order to prevent Complaint Commissioner Nicola Williams’ report, “Let the Whistle Blow”, from suffering a similar fate, the committee has instructed him to move the motion that government adopt and implement the recommendations contained in the report as policy and resolve that such implementation include the passage into law of whistleblowing legislation.

West Bay MLA Bernie Bush seconded the motion, which was supported across the opposition bench.

Addressing the Legislative Assembly, which is sitting this week at the Aston Rutty Civic Centre on Cayman Brac, Miller reminded members of the findings of the report: that public servants in the Cayman Islands are extremely reluctant to report wrongdoing for fear of reprisals, and that victimization and retaliation is common, with no protection for the whistleblower.

The commissioner’s recommendations, he said, called for stand-alone legislation, a positive duty to report wrongdoing, changing the culture of the civil service so that whistleblowers were seen as reporters of wrongdoing, and that those reported of wrongdoing were punished. She also recommended the drafting of a whistleblowing policy document, a confidential hotline, and ensuring confidentiality of the whistleblowers, as well as an education programme and creating a ministry portfolio for Public Service and Integrity.

Miller congratulated the commissioner on the professionalism, sensitivity and thoroughness of the report, a sentiment echoed by Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, who said that his office had considered it, “and while we do not agree with every recommendation, we do accept that this is is matter which we need to give urgent attention to,” he noted.

Manderson said that considerable work had been done already; the attorney general was already in the process of drafting whistleblower legislation, he said, adding that hehas also set up a confidential email where staff could contact him. His office, he said, was taking the recommendations seriously and they were “progressing as quickly as we can”.

However, the motion failed when all government members except for Suckoo voted “no”.

Related article on CNS:

80% of whistleblowers sacked

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