Archive for May 21st, 2014

CIG settles with ousted bosses

| 21/05/2014 | 115 Comments

(CNS): After more than five years on paid leave, the former chief officer in the health ministry, Diane Montoya, and the deputy financial secretary in Financial Services, Deborah Drummond, have been offered a deal by the Cayman Islands Government. The amount of the settlements, despite coming out of the public purse, remains under wraps but both women received a lump sum which equates to the annual salaries they would have earned until their retirement at 60 had they stayed in the service as well as some legal costs. Neither women were ever accused of any wrongdoing but were maneuvered out of their top public sector jobs when the UDP administration, led by McKeeva Bush, reorganized the ministries following the 2009 election victory.

In a statement from the deputy governor’s office on Wednesday, officials said that the agreements came following “protracted negotiations” but the government had amicably settled the women’s clams. Under the terms of a confidential agreement, they will officially retire from the civil service, on 1 July. 

“The financial terms of the settlement reflect government’s legal obligation to compensate the officers for the loss of salary between their early retirement date and their normal retirement date upon their attaining age 60. A sum will also be paid as a contribution toward their joint legal fees. The officers will receive their normal pension entitlements appropriate to their 2014 retirement date,” Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said in the statement.

He also described the officers' departure as a loss for the service.

"At no time has any allegation of wrongdoing been made against the officers, despite their having been put on required leavedating back to 2009. In the face of this difficult situation, the officers have conducted themselves with the utmost professionalism and have, throughout the arduous process, demonstrated respect for the offices they held and the people and government they have collectively served for more than 60 years,” Manderson added.

Given that both women were commanding top six figure salaries as Grade C public servants, the cost to the public purse is likely to be more than $3 million because when the women were placed on required leave in 2009, they were only in their forties and many years away from the civil service retirement age.

Graham Hampson, who represented the two officers, emphasised that his clients were, in light of the all the facts and especially their many years of unblemished service with distinction to the Cayman Islands, entitled to personal privacy in relation to the details of the resolution of the matter, hence the confidential nature of the agreement. He thanked the government for recognizing and respecting this fundamental right.

No reasons were ever formally given for sending the two senior civil servants home. The deputy governor at the time, Donovan Ebanks, said they had done nothing wrong and were awaiting a decision to place them in new roles, but no new jobs were ever forthcoming.

After the women had been on leave for some five years, Manderson said at the UCCI conference that such a situation would not be allowed to happen ever again.

He noted that there was a difference between a reshuffle of the ministries, which he said most new governments do, and just sending senior civil servants home. In this instance, when the Bush administration realigned the ministries things went much further than a reshuffle, with Drummond, Montoya and the former education ministry’s chief officer, Angela Martins, all being sent on required leave. Martins, however, retired in 2011.

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Cigarette smugglers arrested

| 21/05/2014 | 45 Comments

(CNS): Two women and one man have been arrested and are expected to be charged with related offences in connection with a cigarette smuggling ring that HM customs officials targeted earlier this month. Officers conducted specific targeted operations during the first two weeks in May at the Owen Roberts International Airport dealing with custom duty evasion and smuggling. One three-day operation resulted in the arrest of three people, two of whom are airline employees, and the seizure of several cartons of duty free cigarettes intended for the local black market. Collector of Customs Samantha Bennett said that the department was aware of a growing trend of smuggling involving duty-free cigarettes and has identified the varying techniques used.

“Thesecigarettes will eventually end up on the black market, but we will make every effort to stop those criminals who seek to make money from smuggling of goods, whether the goods are legal or illegal,” Bennett added.

Initially in this particular operation a 21-year-old woman and a 26-year-old man, both believed to be employed by airlines, were arrested. Then, as the operation continued into the week, another 35-year-old woman was arrested upon her arrival in the Cayman Islands. All three are now on bail while investigations are continuing but officials were expecting to bring charges in the case.

Anyone with Information relating to this type of crime is asked to contact HM Customs’ tip-line on 1-800-534-8477 or CrimeStoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS).

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Cayman Rugby squad preps for major games

| 21/05/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following its recent impressive performance with a 35 to 7 win against local rivals Bahamas earlier this month, the Cayman rugby squad travels to Bermuda on 7 June for Round 1 of the NACRA tournament before hosting USA South here on 14 June. The Bahmas win moved the team up to 58th place in the International Rugby Boards world rankings. If Cayman win both games they will go onto play the top seeded team from the South to decide who wins the 2014 NACRA regional tournament. Interactive ticketing for the Big Game 4 V USA South will go live on www.caymanrugby.com on Thursday 22 May at 8am.

Tickets are $15 adults and $7 children under 12 if pre purchased through the site or $25 on the door. Cayman hosts  the 2013 NACRA champion USA South for the first time and the game is expected to be the best Big Game yet.
For more details see flyer below

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Promising young soccer stars to train with Chelsea FC

| 21/05/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A coach for the footballing giant Chelsea FC, had great things to say about Cayman’s young players following a soccer clinic which took place in Cayman last week. The senior international development officer for the Chelsea FC Foundation, David Monk, praised the high quality of footballing talent he saw at the Kick Start Clinics sponsored by Digicel and held at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex. Zachary Scott, Tevin Crawford and Kameron D’hue were the three youngsterspicked to go to the Digicel Academy in October which takes place in Barbados where they will train with coaches from the famous football club.

“With our visit being the first of its kind to Cayman, we were excited to see exactly what these Caymanian players had to offer,” said Monk. “After day one, we concluded that the attitude and professionalism demonstrated by these young men was admirable, this partnered with a high ability level means that we must adopt high expectations for our next visit.”

The Cayman Islands was the fourth stop on the 14 country tour which will see Monk and his team of coaches training the Caribbean and Central American region’s best young players. This was the first year the Cayman Islands took part in the clinics which included increased training time with the boys as well as an under-16 girls training session.

On Thursday, 15 May the first three players to represent the Cayman Islands at the academy later this year were selected. Scott, Crawford and D’hue were picked from thirty of the top local players while  Jiffon Robinson was selected as the ‘Wild Card’ and dubbed fastest footballer in the Cayman Islands.

There will be a wild card player selected from each of the 14 participating countries and three of those will go on to attend the Digicel Academy by winning a spot based on fan votes and Digicel Cayman promises to promote the initiative heavily when voting opens in July to get Jiffon on his way.

Minister of Health, Sports, Youth and Culture Osbourne Bodden said bringing Chelsea FC to Cayman for the first time had boosted the profile of the camp. “I'm hoping that the three Chelsea coaches will have a major impact on our youngsters, male and female, and also on our local coaches. Chelsea is one of the world's largest clubs in the world and they have a lot to share. I'm hoping this will become a permanent fixture on our sporting calendar,” he said.

Meanwhile, local Digicel boss Raul Nicholson-Coe explained whatthe football camps were all about.

“The Digicel Kick Start Clinics provide the ideal vehicle to ensure that the kids with the athletic abilities are provided with a platform to showcase their skills and to be given opportunities to develop not only their athletic abilities, but to also be given the necessary life skills related to commitment and professionalism that will allow them to be successful in whatever career path that they chose,” he said.

The Digicel Kick Start Clinics provide thousands of aspiring young footballers from across 14 countries in the region to try out for their chance to travel to the Digicel Academy in Barbados and train under top coaches from Barclays Premier League side, Chelsea FC. For more information please visit www.digicelfootball.com

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Burglars steal cigarettes from Brac gas station

| 21/05/2014 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Police on Cayman Brac are looking for witnesses who may have information regarding an overnight break-in at the West End Gas Station. CI Frank Owens said his officers were at the scene this morning where the burglars broke in by smashing the glass in the front door and stole a quantity of cigarettes. Anyone who may have been in the vicinity of the gas station last night or early this morning who may have heard or seen anything suspicious or have any information in relation to the incident is asked to contact Chief Inspector Frank Owens on 516-6100 or at the Cayman Brac Police Station on 949-0331 or Crime Stoppers on 1 800-8477 (TIPS).
 

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Maples Rvs, Steppingstones too strong for opponents

| 21/05/2014 | 1 Comment

(CRFU): The semi-finals of the National Touch Rugby Championships 2014 were played out against a backdrop of searing heat at the South Sound Rugby Club last weekend.
First up saw tournament favourites Maples Reserves take on Island Air. At this level, touch rugby is not the pastime of a few ex-rugby players looking for a runaround but rather a fast-paced, well-drilled game where adherence to a structured game plan is essential. And none come better drilled than Maples Reserves. Captain Adam Huckle may appear amiable and avuncular on the surface but let that not fool you for inside there is a man with a rabid appetite for the win.

His team has been training all season and so when Andrew “John” West scored after 30 seconds from the kick-off there was a palpable and ominous feeling that this was going to be a long afternoon for the Island Air team. A quick second by Australian Ian Smith (no, not that one who plays Harold Bishop in “Neighbours”!) confirmed their early dominance and for a while it looked like Island Air might go into a tailspin. Chandra Friesen managed to grab one back for the ‘Air after a nice dummy break by the buffed and blond Neal Ainscow, but it was lean cuisine for the team in black.

Maples Reserves pose a threat right across the team whether it be the lightning speed and Riverdance-like feet of Nicky Keogh; the circa 1957 Elvis hip swivel of Neil Montgomery; the languid low-rider running style of Jyoti Choi or the Highland Terrier-like scampering of Andrew “Westie” West. Tries came at regular intervals but none more significant or controversial than the ‘Reserves fourth try, where Choi, having collided with Island Air’s Sheila Crosby and taking her completely out of the game, then exploited the defensive gap caused by her being prostrate on the floor to eventually score himself.

It was an unusual occurrence and although unintended was significant none the less. Referees Henshaw and Shelver debated long and hard and eventually the try was given. More than one eyebrow was raised in the stands at that decision. A half-time score of 7-3 paid tribute to the tenacity of Island Air and Neal Ainscow in particular but the crowd felt the writing was on the wall. It did not make good reading for Island Air.

The second half became a procession with tries for Dan “Des” O’Connor (3), Wiki “Pedia” Hitchman (2), and Elvis Montgomery.  By the end, Island Air were more lost than Flight 370 and I doubt even the full resources of CNN and their myriad of search-and-rescue analysts and experts could locate their chances of winning this one. Final score 14-4 to Maples Reserves.

The second semi-final saw SteppingStones take on Heineken Brew Crew. A quick glimpse at the team sheets showed this to be a game of seasoned Touch players full of guile and nouse (SteppingStones) against a team dependent on youthful vigour, pace and energy brought to it by its band of inexperienced by highly skilled National Rugby players (Heineken Brew Crew). Therefore it was a shocking blow to the ‘Crew when five players were withdrawn from their roster due to National Squad commitments, leaving an average age approaching 40.

Stripped of all their most potent weapons they were like a gunslinger going to a stand-off with rolled-up newspaper. They might make a make a couple of hits if they could get close enough but hardly deadly. And yet it was Heineken who scored first. Steve “the Baker” Henshaw crossed the whitewash in the first minute and briefly (well for just two minutes) Brew Crew dared to dream. However, that dream soon turned to a nightmare as Scott McCarty (3), Simon Raftopolous (4), Morgan Shelver (3), Rudolf Weder, Shaun McDermot and Emily Davies racked up the tries. Time and again SteppingStones would break through the aging defensive line on halfway and with no speed in the chasers they would canter on to score at a trot. If it was a boxing match the referee would have stopped it as Heineken were taking metaphorical punch after punch. They were beaten and at times looked broken. Final score 13-2.

The final game saw a 5th and 6th place play-off between Maples and KPMG. Both teams have struggled this year through either a lack of experience, players or general fitness against the bigger guns in the League.

Maples have looked good in parts this season and they probably saved their best for this game winning by 11 tries to 1. The try of the game, indeed the try of the day was scored by their dynamic strike runner Nino Dilbert. He had been having a good game running in four excellent scores from nice offloads but his individual try in the second half was something to behold – literally poetry in motion. Picking the ball up just over halfway he span, toe-looped, salchow-ed and axel-ed his way through a KPMG defence left to clutch at the thinnest of straws.

It was mesmerizing stuff and his own team just stood in awe and wonder as he pirouetted through to score a magnificent try. Ably supported with scores by Michelle Bailey (2), and Finn O’Hegarty (2), Paul “Barrel” Johnson and Ruan Van “Rental” Vuuren it proved all too much for KPMG. They never gave up though and a consolation score for Mark Bakker was well deserved.

 

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Cayman sailors take 3rd place in J22 Worlds

| 21/05/2014 | 0 Comments

(CISC): Brothers, Mike and Simon Farrington have returned from South Africa where they successfully clinched a podium finish in the J22 World Championships. Although they sail against each other on different boats here in Cayman, they teamed up and sailed a great regatta clinching three second place finishes in the 11 race competition.This is the 4th World Championships in which Mike Farrington has represented Cayman and the results have shown a steady increase. “After competing in two championships in the USA we came fourth last year in France and now we have got in on the medals” explained a very happy skipper. “Who knows, perhaps next year in Germany we can do even better.”

Brother Simon was equally upbeat. “We had hoped to have Coach Raph on the team this year and with his skills we might have taken second place. Our substitute crew Ilianna did a great job and the winds were light. Next year the Baltic Sea in Germany might be a bit of a challenge temperature wise!”

Sailing club manager Rick Caley was full of praise. “They are both very successful sailors here at home but to go out and put yourself up against the best of the world in a very competitive sailing fleet is a great achievement for local sailors. Our youth sailors are off to China this summer to represent Cayman in the Youth Olympic Games and so it has been a very successful year and shows that we have a lot of talent on our small island.”

 

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Lionfish sting Wahoos in dramatic touch encounter

| 21/05/2014 | 1 Comment

(CTA):Thelma and Louise, Cagney and Lacey, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, Pussy Riot, George Michael and Elton John. There have been some famous female duos over the past thirty years. But here in Cayman we have a new partnership emerging that is setting the world of Women’s Touch on fire. Nicky Keogh and Emma Santiago.  Faster than a puff adder, and deadlier than a Taipan, both play for LIONFISH and have developed over the course of the Women’s Touch League into a two-headed hydra capable of felling their opposition with such speed of attack that there is rarely any antidote on hand.

In matches against SHARKS and WAHOOS, Keogh and Santiago and shared the MVP awards across both games. Keogh has the ability to score long range tries through shear speed and with a nose to sniff an opportunity she can create scores from seemingly unpromising situations. Santiago uses a combination of agility and speed to score her tries and she posted a double in both games.

In their first game against SHARKS, LIONFISH took control of the game through their use of “arrows” attack and utilized all six touches to advance up the pitch. However, SHARKS are not prone to panic and managed to claw their way back into the game with tries from Michelle Bailey, Roz Glanfield and Wiki Hitchman. Using the wrap around to great effect through the Hitchman/Bailey combo they came back to secure a well-earned 3-3 draw.

Against WAHOOS, the LIONFISH showed their defensive mettle and were able to bottle up the dangerous Lisa Kehoe, and with good control of the ball and running good arrows they released Nicky Keogh for a long run to score. Santiago managed to break out and notch up two tries again with a combination of good foot work and speed. Coach Neil Ainscow said, “What is most impressive from both games was our ability for the team to utilize all six of their touches without giving up possession. We are progressing nicely and feel we can beat anyone at the moment.”

The SHARKS returned from the day with a win and a draw but it was not their most fluid of performances. It is said that the sign of a good team is one that wins whilst not playing well and the SHARKS know they can trouble every team on their day. After their 3-3 draw against LIONFISH they defeated an understrength STINGRAYS, Michelle Bailey getting the winning score. Their defence was severely tested against LIONFISH and Tanya Potiyenko once again stood out continuously shutting down the LIONFISH strike runners.

WAHOOS stay top of the table courtesy of a forfeited game against STINGRAYS. Their only competitive run-out was against the emergent LIONFISH and they couldn’t handle the double-barreled assault of Keogh and Santiago.  Whilst LIONFISH strike from distance, WAHOOS have their own deadly duo who prefer to do their damage at close quarters. More Muay Thai than Mai Tai, the pairing of Sharlee Henshaw and Lisa Kehoe might look as fruity as a Polynesian cocktail but from 5 metres out the damage they can do is like a sharp dig in the ribs for the opposition, usually resulting in try-time. Kehoe, quicker to the “dump” than a ramped-up Scania Front-Loader, often catches the defence on its heels bursting through to offload to Henshaw for the touchdown – difficult to execute, but even harder to defend against when done well. It was good, but ultimately not enough to sink LIONFISH on the day.

STINGRAYS had to default both games due to a lack of players but played their games for experience. Shout-outs must go to Jenna Blake who improved hugely by coming off the wing and getting involved in the middle.  She grew in confidence and shut down a lot of plays on defence.  Meylys Swaby has also improved game on game by initiating the touch and therefore dictating the pace of the game.

LIONFISH 3 v. SHARKS 3

LIONFISH 3 v. WAHOOS 2

STINGRAY v. WAHOOS (WAHOOS win due to STINGRAY forfeit)

SHARKS v. STINGRAY (SHARKS win due to STINGRAY forfeit)

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Judge deports gun suspect after dismissing case

| 21/05/2014 | 19 Comments

(CNS): An illegal immigrant from Jamaica who appeared to have been in Cayman to sell drugs was deported by a Grand Court judge Monday after he dismissed gun charges against him. Efforts by the crown to prosecute Joseph St Aubryn Hill for possession of an unlicensed firearm and wounding as part of a joint enterprise with a suspect who remains at large and known only as 'JR' failed when the judge said there was no evidence to support the case. Hill admitted being present at Powell Smith Drive, West Bay in August last year when Charles Ebanks was shot and wounded by someone call JR but Hill said, he was there under duress and had no idea who the shooter was or who he was shooting.

The case against Hill in which no witnesses at all appeared before the court, including the man who was shot, depended entirely on the account of Hill who had volunteered the information to police. He told them that he had been ordered to go with JR by a man called ‘Mr Biggs’ with whom he was staying when he arrived in Cayman two days before and said his life was threatened. Hill said he was told if he kept his mouth shut he would live.

When the men arrived at an address which turned out to be Powell Smith Drive hill told police that JR produced a gun, threatened him and told him to go knock on a door. As he did JR started shooting and warned Hill to get out of the way otherwise he would get shot too.
The defendant who said he had been drinking earlier that night was taken from the scene by JR and then dropped off somewhere he didn’t know with the warning that if he talked he would die here. Hill said that JR was a young, slim-brown skinned Caymanian who had made it clear his life was under threat and whatever he had done at Ebanks’ house was under duress.

With no other witnesses and nothing to undermine Hill’s position the judge who heard the case without a jury, Justice Charles Quin said the crown had failed to show that Hill was part of the joint enterprise or any agreement that the men were acting together. There was no evidence he said that the defendant knew or had ever even met JR before the incident or had any idea until he was threatened with it that JR had a gun.

“There is an absence of evidence to show that there was common intention and agreement over the gun and the use of the gun,” he said. Pointing to what evidence there was which came only from Hill JR always had care and control of the firearm and Hill knew nothing of it until JR produced it and threatened him with it. The judge said there was no evidence before the court that Hill knew who JR planned to shoot and the crown had not presented any evidence to contradict Hill’s account.

The judge said the evidence against Hill was so “intrinsically weak and so discredited it could not conceivably support a guilty verdict” as he discharged the defendant.

However, the judge said that there was no record of Hill ever landing legally in Cayman. In light of his guilty plea before the summary court for drug charges as well as his own admission of a staying in houses with people he knew only by aliases and driving around a strange country in a drunken stupor the judge said his presence in Cayman was extremely suspicious. As a result the court recommended his immediate deportation.

The judge, however, did note that at least Hill unlike many others had cooperated with the police over the shooting at Powell Smith Drive. He said the case had been frustrated by the lack of willing witnesses to give evidence, which he described as deeply regrettable. Despite seven witnesses in the case, including Ebanks who was shot, only two gave statements leaving five people who knew about the events of the night in question and the identity of the shooter but who had refused to assist the police.  

The judge said the court had some sympathy with witnesses who are intimidated but people had to find the courage to come forward and help the police identify the shooter.
“The entire community must support the police to rid this country of the menace and danger of illegal firearms,” the judge added.

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Report of NSA spying unnerves wider Caribbean

| 21/05/2014 | 13 Comments

(CNS): A story in the specialist media publication The Intercept, created to report on the documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, about NSA spying on the Bahamas telephone network has unnerved the wider region and fuelled existing concerns about the covert operations of the region’s mighty neighbour. According to the report, Snowden’s documents reveal that the US authorities have been engaged in a mass surveillance operation in which they are listening to virtually all mobile calls coming in and out of the islands. The local government has described the allegations as “startling”.

The National Security Agency recorded the audio of the calls in a top secret phone surveillance, which was reportedly implemented without the knowledge or consent of The Bahamas government, even though the islands do not present a terrorism or national security threat to the US by its own admission. The State Department has described The Bahamas as a “stable democracy that shares democratic principles, personal freedoms, and rule of law with the United States" and said in its own report about the country, that "there is little to no threat facing Americans from domestic (Bahamian) terrorism, war, or civil unrest.” 

However, it appears that the US used its relationship with the country regarding the issue of drug trafficking to engage in the covert snooping. Spies have been listening in to calls looking for ammunition in the so-called “war on drugs” and this has prompted the question about where else the US is eavesdropping illegally in the region.

The Bahamas government said it was looking for some explanation or comment from the US regarding the authenticity of the allegations.

“The news that there is spying and the collecting of the audio of mobile phone calls of Bahamians by agencies of another country is clearly startling,” the Bahamian Foreign Ministry said in the statement. “The facts must be determined. Otherwise, the behaviour described would be clearly illegal and on the face of it an abuse of powers. It would also represent a great moral failing on the part of its perpetrators, in addition to illegality which challenges the founding principles of the rule of law. It would also be an invasion of the privacy of the individual, a cherished democratic value and a legal right.”

According to media reports, NSA has not denied the allegations and has claimed that by working “with other nations, under specific and regulated conditions, mutually strengthens the security of all.” However, it is clear that in this case the US authorities were not ‘working with’ the Bahmas government, as they had no clue.

“Every day, NSA provides valuable intelligence on issues of concern to all Americans – such as international terrorism, cybercrime, international narcotics trafficking, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” NSA said. “NSA’s efforts are focused on ensuring the protection of the national security of the United States, its citizens, and our allies through the pursuit of valid foreign intelligence targets.”

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