Archive for April 24th, 2014

Customs arrested six in weekend airport drug bust

| 24/04/2014 | 11 Comments

(CNS): During a targeted operation at Owen Roberts International Airport in George Town over the Easter Weekend officers arrested six people on various drugs charges and also handed out a number of administrative fines for duty evasion as the new enforcement regime swung into action. The first arrests took place on Thursday afternoon when a 25-year-old woman and a 24-year-old man were arrested during profiling of passengers from San Andres, a small island of the mainland of Colombia. Officers found a large quantity of what was suspected to be cocaine hidden in electronic devices and in pairs of shoes. Both have now been charged with possession & importation of cocaine and remanded in custody.

According to customs officials, investigators arrested two others, a 52-year-old female and 23-year-old male, on suspicion of being concerned in the possession and importation of substance resembling cocaine, but the two were bailed as the investigation continues.

In an unrelated incident on the same day, a local man who had arrived home on a flight from Kingston, Jamaica, was also arrested for importation and possession of suspected drugs when customs officers found he was carrying vegetable matter resembling ganja. He was released on bail following his court appearance this week.

Customs officials continued their targeted operations through the weekend, and on Easter Monday, 21 April, another female passenger who arrived on the San Andres flight was searched and white powder resembling cocaine was found in the wooden support slats of three hammocks the woman was carrying. The woman was arrested and has since been formally charged with possession and importation of cocaine and has been remanded in custody.

Collector of Customs Samantha Bennett commended her officers for what she said was outstanding work and dedication to duty over the weekend.

“At a time when many persons were enjoying the Easter weekend, my officers were concentrating on protecting our borders,” the customs boss stated. “We have the Cayman Islands at heart and want to make our communities safer for everyone.

“This operation clearly demonstrates how a well-coordinated operational response can be successful in stopping drugs reaching the streets of the Cayman Islands and causing devastation in our communities. We would continue to urge anyone who has information concerning the importation of drugs, ammunition or firearms to contact us via the confidential tip-lines available,” she added.

While officers were focused on drug interdiction, they were not neglecting the importation of legal goods and were on the lookout to ensure people were paying the required duty on goods they were bringing in. Administrative fines were given to many people who had undeclared goods inconsistent with the declaration of articles on arrival.

Information on smuggling can be passed on the new HM Customs tip-line 1-800- 534-8477 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS) or email address tell.us@customs.gov.ky

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5yrs for mom in driving death

| 24/04/2014 | 56 Comments

(CNS): A visiting judge handed down a severe sentence in a death by dangerous driving case Thursday. Dorlisa Piercy, who is currently breast feeding her young baby, was given a five year jail term following her conviction for causing the death of Karen Edwards in an East End road smash in August 2011. Edwards, who was sitting in the back seat of the car, was seven months pregnant when she was thrown from the car and killed in the high speed crash in which Piercy and the front passenger also received severe injuries. Piercy claimed she wasn't the driver and had denied the charges but she was found guilty by Justice Carol Beswick during a trial earlier this year. Despite Piercy's circumstances, the judge handed down the long prison term and a driving disqualification.

The 26-year-old mom will now be separated from her baby, and Justice Beswick acknowledged the suffering of the baby, who will be separated from its mother, but she said it was as a result of Piercy’s choices.

Piercy had persistently denied being the driver, stating that the owner of the car, Priscilla Smith, had been at the wheel when the accident happened. However, during the trial the court heard that Smith was cut out of the car at the scene from the front passenger side. The judge found that Piercy was the driver and found her guilty of causing death by dangerous driving

As a result Piercy was not given any credit on the five year sentence. A social enquiry report  revealed that since giving birth, Piercy had turned her life around and become a dedicated mother who is in a relationship with the baby's father. However, despite this and several good character witnesses, as well as a number of other mitigating factors, the judge did not go easy on the new mom.

Justice Beswick said that after balancing the mitigating factors, which included a short period of bad driving, the fact that she was young at the time and that she too was badly injured, against the aggravating factors, including the speed, the vulnerability of Karen Edwards as an expectant mother and that Piercy had previous speeding violations, she felt the sentence was appropriate. The judge pointed to what she said was a lack of remorse, as to this day Piercy continues to deny being at the wheel and causing the death of her friend.

In addition to the five year jail term, the judge also imposed a five year driving ban on Piercy to begin when she is eventually released from custody.

Compared to a number of recent similar death by dangerous driving cases, the sentence is one of the longest to be handed down. With no discount as a result of the trial, the judge also found that the circumstances of the case placed it in a higher category, with a recommended starting point of five years.

Piercy was taken into custody for the first time following her long bail since the crash almost three years ago, in which she too was critically injured and only just survived. Following the judge’s decision, it was an emotional goodbye for Piercy and her family.

Defence attorney Lucy Organ from Samson McGrath declined to confirm if she would be appealing the sentence.

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Hurdles battle tipped as one to watch

| 24/04/2014 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Four top international 400m female hurdlers will be battling it out on the Truman Bodden Track at the Cayman Invitational on 7 May. Third time returnees Tiffany Williams of the United States, Ajoke Odumosu of Nigeria and Jamaican representatives Ristananna Tracey and Shevon Stoddart are scheduled to race in the women's 400m hurdles event in what organisers said would be an exciting event, given the stature of the athletes. Meet director and international athlete Cydonie Mothersill said the race is sure to be tight.

“Although any one of this formidable foursome could stand on the top step during the victory ceremony, other possible show-stealing starters will include veteran Nickiesha Wilsonfrom Jamaica,” she said. “Every one of the competitors in the event presents an impressive list of accomplishments.”

Ajoke set the standard in 2012 with a winning mark of 55.09 seconds, but slipped to fifth last year. Tiffany upped her position from runner-up to the top spot in 2013, bringing down the record to an amazing 55.04 s. Ristananna jumped from sixth place in her first appearance to the second spot in 2013 and Shevon has finished fourth in both previous outings.

Tiffany Williams, from Miami, Florida represented the Miami Northwest Express Club in her early competitive career. She won the South-eastern Conference 400 m hurdles three times and was also a 15-time All-American while attending the University of South Carolina. She was the United States champion in the event in 2007 and 2008 and was a finalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Her personal best is listed at 53.28 s.

Ajoke Odumosu is the national record holder for Nigeria in the women's 400 m hurdles at 54.40s. posted in the semi-finals of the 2012 London Olympics. Prior to that achievement, she had attained several victories and other medal-winning performances at international competitions. She struck gold at the African Championships in 2008, the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and the All-Africa Games in 2011. Ajoke was a standout for the University of South Alabama track squad.

Lowering her time substantially to place second at last year's Cayman Invitational, Ristananna Tracey has a formidable record of achievements. At the World Junior Championships in 2010 she finished fifth and the following year she was victorious at the CAC Junior Championships. At the Jamaica National Championships in 2011 her second place time of 54.50 s. was noted as the second-best all-time mark in the event at the junior level.

Shevon Stoddart is another stalwart representative of the University of South Carolina. She competed for Jamaica at the 2004 Athens Olympics while still in college and later in 2008 in Beijing, where she finished fourth. She gained a third-place medal at the CAC Games in 2005 and competed in the World Championships later that year. Shevon placed fifth at the Commonwealth Games in 2006. Her best mark for the 400 m hurdles is 54.40 s. In addition, Shevon is a noted singer, songwriter and model.

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Retail Dart boss makes mystery sudden exit

| 24/04/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Hugh Treadwell, who has been a leading member of the Dart management teamheading up various companies owned by the islands’ largest investor for many years, has made a mystery exit from the firm. Although a spokesperson for Dart Reality Cayman Ltd confirmed that Treadwell has left the company, despite speculation concerning management ‘irregularities’, the firm refused to comment on why the former senior boss had gone. “Dart does not provide public comment on the circumstances or details of the cessation of any specific employment,” Connie Buchanan, the firm’s public relations manager,said Wednesday. “We confirm that Hugh Treadwell is no longer employed with Dart.” Read more on CNS Business

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Ex-cop clamps down on drug smugglers

| 24/04/2014 | 28 Comments

(CNS): Just a few weeks into his new job as head of enforcement at customs, former senior police officer Marlon Bodden has started as he means to go on and is warning smugglers that he and his team arecoming after them. Four people were charged and appeared in court this week after being nabbed at Owen Robberts International Airport during the Easter weekend carrying narcotics. Over 5 kilos of cocaine and an undisclosed quantity of ganja that had been hidden in hammock slats, shoes and electronics were seized by officials. “It’s my responsibility to make sure we are paying the right attention to all of the activity that is unacceptable,” said the new customs enforcer.

Talking about the importance of the partnership between customs and the RCIPS in policing drug smuggling and his goal to clamp down on it, Bodden told Cayman27 news that he had no intention of getting tired anytime soon.

“I gave over thirty years to the RCIPS and I am going to give another thirty to customs. We have the all-seeing eye,” he said referring to CCTV at the airport. “We want to let individuals know that we are going to check them and I am not going to apologise to the public as we are going to do our job and there may be some delays.”

With just a dozen reported drug seizures at the airport over the last five years, officials have said that the weaknesses were down to a lack of leadership until the relatively recent appointment of Samantha Bennett as the collector of customs and now Bodden as the head of enforcement.

The ex-cop has promised that said things are now going to change and he warned people who get involved in drug smuggling that they will get caught and said the recent haul was just the beginning.

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Miller rebuts political plot

| 24/04/2014 | 31 Comments

(CNS): The independent member for North Side has dismissed allegations that he is involved in any political conspiracies to destabilize the current PPM administration. Ezzard Miller said his motivation during this administration, like the last one, is to represent his constituents and do what he believes is in the best interest of Caymanians. He said that he has absolutely nothing to gain, especially three years away from an election, from undermining the present government as this is his country too, which he wants to see succeed, not fail because of political instability. Miller said all he wants is for government to take greater notice of the issues he is attempted to put before them.

“I have nothing to gain from undermining government. I live here, I don’t even have a UK passport,” Miller stated. “My position is the same as it has always been. If the government brings something good to the Legislative Assembly I will support it, if I think it is bad then I will tell the government what it needs to change to get my support.”

The independent MLA explained that as a member of the opposition benches, his options for presenting the matters that he believes are important to his constituents and the country in general are limited. The only way is to use adjournment debates, private members motions or other appropriate motions that Standing Orders permit.

Rather than creating conspiracy theories, Miller urged the current administration to pay closer attention to the content and goals of the motions that he has and will continue to bring before legislators.

“What I am trying to achieve is good governance and to promote the interests of Caymanians,” he said. “Instead of falling back on the same old clichés that I am a rebel, seeking the lime-light, or that I am seeking to destabilize the political landscape, the government should be looking closely at the content of the motions and the reasons why I bring these things to their attention.”

Miller also denied colluding or conspiring with the leader of the opposition and any new party he may be forming.

“It is a totally preposterous idea that I am joining any new CDP, CLP or any other collection of letters representing any political party that involves the remnants of the UDP,” he said in response to recent speculation. “I have no blind ambition to be premier and have no need to gather support to lead any party.”

The independent member said that prior to the last election he had met with a group of what he believed were the brightest and the best potential young politicians and urged them to enter the political arena, as he said the country needed them. But, he said, he had made it perfectly clear from the onset that he had no ambitions to lead them or be at the helm of a political party. “Some of those people are now sitting on the government benches and in Cabinet,” he noted.

The allegations of destabilization or collusion coming from the government, Miller said, were merely a deflection, as he accused government of dodging the national issues that he was putting before them.

The latest conflict in the LA over his call to reject the MACI annual report until the losses were explained and to act on the complaints commissioner’s whistle-blowing report was, Miller said, about the need to address the reports not about embarrassing government.

“The goal was to have the issues relating to the reports debated,” he said. “However, the government response just demonstrated a lack of preparation and the unwillingness of the government benches to put the time in to deal with the matters that are before parliament and of major public interest. Everything I did was in full compliance with the existing Standing Orders, regardless of how archaic they might be.”

Miller said that since he was returned to office in the 2009 election, everything he has brought to the country’s parliament has been because he believed it was important and needed to be raised, debated and addressed. He said he was desperately concerned that a catalogue of critical issues, especially those relating to the country’s aging population, were being ignored but he would press ahead with his goal to get government to address them.

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