Archive for May 23rd, 2014

Coach remanded on sex offence conviction

| 23/05/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A local man was remanded in custody on Thursday afternoon as he awaits a Grand Court decision on the length it time he will serve in connection with a sex crime against a teenage girl whom he was coaching at a local sports club. The 33-year-old man is charged with defilement after having sex with her when she was just 13 and he was 31, and possessing an indecent image of a child as he had videoed the two of them having sex. The crime came to light when the teen had a row with her parents and she told them about what she believed was a consensual, loving, relationship with her coach, who is 18 years her senior. Following the teen’s revelations, the man was arrested and he admitted his guilt.

Appearing before Justice Charles Quin on Thursday afternoon, the man, who cannot be named due to a court order restricting the publishing of any information that could identify the teenager, was told that a custodial sentence was inevitable. He was remanded in custody after being on bail for many months, having been arrested in March 2013.

The court heard that the young teen, who is now 15, and her family have all suffered a very difficult time since the crime came to light. The teenager has since been sent overseas to school as a result of the harassment she and her family have suffered after exposing the coach, who appears to be well-liked by other parents and players at the sports club.

As a result of the sensitivity of the case, the crown revealed little about it in open court, though the judge was supplied with all of the evidence and relevant documentation. The court heard that the teenage girl did not believe herself to be a victim and was anticipating that she and the coach would be revealing their relationship as soon as she was 16.

However, the crown said that the video image found on the coach’s phone when he was arrested had been made without her consent.

Outlining the aggravating circumstances of the case, the crown said the case was a very clear breach of trust, as the man was the teen’s coach, and there was also the disparity in their ages to consider.

In mitigation, the man’s attorney said her client accepted full responsibility and did not wish to diminish what had happened, but she pointed out that this was a consensual situation and he too had considered it to be a real relationship. The lawyer said her client had pleaded guilty at the outset and had cooperated fully with the police. He was of previous good character, held a job for some 14 years and was held in high regard in the community.

A social enquiry report revealed a harrowing background for the coach, who had been subjected to sexual and physical abuse when he was young, and that this was “a classic case of the abused becoming an abuser”.

Despite his own appalling upbringing, the coach had, however, taken a positive path in life and this was the first time he had done anything wrong. The lawyer explained that the coach had genuinely started out wanting to help the teenager, who was going through a difficult time. But he acknowledged it went too far and that it was a “monumental error of judgment that will cost him everything”.

The lawyer pointed out that there had been no intervention to save him from his abuser and no therapeutic help available to him as he was growing up. To compound matters, a programme that was recommended by the probation service for the coach to undertake is not available in the Cayman Islands.

The court also heard that the coach is a father of two, and although separated from his children’s mother, the pair have an amicable relationship and he is very active in his children’s lives, providing for them financially as well. The lawyer noted that sending her client to jail, which she acknowledged was inevitable, would add to the number of people who will be hurt by the offence.

Justice Quin remanded the coach into custody and said he would deliver his verdict on the sentence on Tuesday 27 May.

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$4M just for dump process

| 23/05/2014 | 85 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government expects to spend $4 million over the next two years just on the process towards implementing a waste-management solution. According to the Strategic Outline Case (SOC) released to the public on Friday, officials believe it will cost government $2 million or so in each of the next two financial years to cover the fees and other costs of the various consultants, reports, reviews, environment assessments and the actual procurement of the project. In the first step towards a full national waste-management solution,which is expected to cost more than $100 million, the SOC reveals how far Cayman is from tackling not just the George Town landfill but dealing with future waste.

The SOC is a very broad overview of where Cayman currently is in relation to the management of waste on all three islands and where it would like to be. With no policy yet in place, the future solution remains open.

Government has stated that it will not relocate the GT landfill and has decided on a goal of an integrated environmentally sound, sustainable, cost-effective waste-management system that includes reuse, recycling and waste to energy to last for at least fifty years. But how it gets there is still very much open to question. The SOC also states that the system should not cost the government more to operate than the one it has now.

Readers expecting to see an advance towards a solution in the Strategic Outline Case will be disappointed as it is merely an overview which lays out the history and the current situation with broad goals. 

A priority identified in the SOC is the development of a national solid waste management strategy which will be guided by the European Commission’s waste framework directive. That sets out the modern principles relating to how European states, and by extension their territories, now approach the problem of waste. This starts with waste prevention, which is the main is the priority, followed by encouraging reuse of materials, then formalised recycling, recovery and finally disposal. Cayman is currently all about disposal, the last and least favoured option for dealing with waste and has only flirted with the idea of waste reduction and any kind of reuse and recycling or recovery.

The Strategic Outline Case is the first step on the procurement process. Step two will be for government to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for a consultant to develop that national solid waste management strategy, as well as an outline business case (OBC) for a new system. 

Following the release of the document (which is also posted below) the minister responsible, Osbourne Bidden, said Cayman’s landfills have reached a critical point that needs to be urgently addressed. “The SOC is a key step towards the development of a solid waste strategy that will comprehensively and sensitively manage waste in the Cayman Islands for the next 50 years.”

Despite that critical situation, however, the minister emphasised the need to follow the procurement process laid down in the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility (FFR).

The technical experts from various government agencies as well as the private sector who are on the steering committee will be responsible for ensuring that the project encompasses the five key stages required by the FFR. These are the appraisal and business case, procurement, contract management, delivery and evaluation.

Bodden said the search for a waste management solution would remain transparent with regular updates. He also said that government will undertake comprehensive public consultation throughout as the outline business case is developed.

A copy of the SOC is attached below this article but copies are also available at the
www.ministryofhealth.gov.ky or www.gov.ky

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Troubled teen robber jailed for 2.5 years

| 23/05/2014 | 8 Comments

(CNS): A teenage boy who was only sixteen years old when he was involved in an armed robbery at a North Side supermarket has been given a two and a half year sentence for his part in the crime by a Grand Court judge. The teenager, who cannot be named because of his age, pleaded guilty to robbery shortly after his arrest and co-operated fully with the police. However, despite being failed by the system, given the severity of the crime the judge would not agree to his attorney’s pleas for a youth probation order. The youngster was a key player in the daylight heist in which four men were originally apprehended following a high profile chase by the police helicopter.

The teen is now the last of the gang involved in the robbery, which took place at the Chisholm’s store in North Side in October last year, to be sentenced. The incident was a terrifying ordeal for the 83 year old owner and her grand-daughter, who were manning the shop when two masked armed men burst in and demanded money. The women were both recently honoured with a community police award as it was their quick thinking which allowed the police to ultimately apprehend the gang.

In what is a now well documented case, the teen entered the store along with Courtney Bryan, who was armed with an imitation hand gun and who is serving four years for his part in the crime, and threatened the two women. They stole jewellery, cigarettes, acell phone and around $300 in cash before making their escape in a get-away car driven by Fernado Ellington, who is serving a two year sentence for his part in the crime. A fourth man, Odain Ebanks, who was also in the car pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods and evaded jail after the crown were unable to prove earlier allegations that he was part of the robbery. 

All four men were arrested after the car was tracked by the police helicopter and police patrol vehicles on the ground as the shop owner had taken down the car’s license plate.

The court heard that the teen, who admitted his guilt on arrest and cooperated with the police, said he was intimidated and cajoled bythe older men into committing the crime.
It was also revealed that the young boy had been woefully failed by the system. Placed in Foster care because his father was abusing drugs, he was then sent to the controversial Alternative Education Centre when he was still young and introduced to ganja at age 13. The young boy was never returned to mainstream education and was sent to Bonaventure but was not provided with the therapeutic and mental health care that he needed. In his ruling justice Charles Quin noted the gaps in the system that have failed him and others.

Given the teen’s clear distrust of that system and the authorities that have failed him, his defence attorney had urged the court not to send his young client to spend more time locked up and now in an adult environment as he said he needed proper treatment.

However, the judge found that the seriousness of the offence, as the teen had played a significant part in what was a terrifying experience for the victims, meant a youth order was not commensurate with the crime. He also noted that the youngster had previous convictions for drugs and assault.

Starting with a four year term, he gave the boy a one third discount for his guilty plea and time served, since he was arrested in September, to be counted.

Justice Quin urged the young man to turn his life around before it was too late and while he acknowledged the difficulties in his life, he said children all over the world are faced with far more difficulties.

Now 17 years old, he was a man and had to take responsibility for his actions but he could still change, the judge said as he advised him to use the next two years in jail to stay away from trouble and drugs. He said he still had the chance to lead a productive life in the future if he turned away from crime, otherwise he would carry on going to Northward.

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Budget finally gets UK OK

| 23/05/2014 | 69 Comments

(CNS): The UK has finally given the nod to the Cayman Islands government for its 2014/15 spending plan, which the finance minister said does not include any new revenue raising measures. With approval for the budget coming from the FCO on Wednesday Marco Archer, the finance and economics minister, can now deliver the budget Monday at the State Opening of the LA as planned. Describing the spending plan as a business-friendly budget, he said it would positively impact the business community and households as well as various sectors of the economy, with no inflationary triggers, yet controlling costs through prudent spending. “This budget is a good package,” Archer said Thursday.

The minister said the preparation for what will be his second budget began in February and his boss, Premier Alden McLaughlin, recently revealed that the government had not had an easy time as the personnel cost for the civil service had blown the operating expense side of the ledger.

Nevertheless, Archer has now balanced the books to the liking of the UK, and although he is promising no new taxes, there are no indications that there will be any cuts to the fees implemented by the previous administration, such as the duty on fuel, and civil servants will see another year go by where their cost of living allowance continues to be withheld.

The first sitting of the LA’s 2014-2015 meeting will open with the governor’s Throne Speech,  when Helen Kilpatrick will outline broad government goals for the coming fiscal year, after which there will be a presentation given by McLaughlin detailing policy plans, followed by Archer’s Budget Address. The opposition leader’s response and the debate by MLAs on the three presentations is expected to start on Thursday, 29 May.

Following that the members will examine the budget in detail in Finance Committee, and once passed by the parliament, the budget has to be gazetted before 30 June 2014 in order for government to carry on functioning on 1 July.

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CTF marks Turtle Day despite latest criticisms

| 23/05/2014 | 25 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Turtle Farm has issued a press release indicating that the facility is marking World Turtle Day on Friday which was designed to raise awareness and promote the conservation of the endangered species. In the wake of yet more damning criticisms about the Farm’s treatment of its turtles being bred for meat and its lack of genuine conservation credentials by the British based charity the WSPA the Farm is making the most of the day which has been sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue since 2000. “Every day at Cayman Turtle Farm: Island Wildlife Encounter is really a World Turtle Day,” said Chief Marketing Officer Tina Trumbach, despite the allegations.

“But today we’re celebrating with some special activities that we hope our guests will join in and support, including a limited edition T-shirt sale, the unveiling of a new mural in our Education Centre & Hatchery, and educational seminars on ‘Sea Turtles in Cayman’ by local experts throughout the day,” she added.

Research and reports by WSPA have, over the last two years, revealed a catalogue of issues relating to poor husbandry, diseases, cannibalism, deformities, breeding problems, mass deaths as a result of negligence and many more problems at the Farm. The charity has criticised the release programme, which has now been suspended as a result of the problems with farmed turtles that could be transmitted to wild populations, as well as the dumping of waste into the ocean. On every occasion the Farm has sought to dismiss and down play the charities allegations as part of its campaign to transition the farm from a meat shop into a genuine conservation facility.

The WSPA is currently focusing on trying to persuade the Cayman authorities to ban the sale of turtle meat to tourist and stop the false demand. The government has since agreed to fund the department of the environment to examine and assess the demand for turtle meat locally and to consider the possible end of sales to visitors.

See details of the Farms plans in the release posted below for World Turtle Day

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ACC finds ERA bid was clean

| 23/05/2014 | 14 Comments

(CNS): The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) says it has found no evidence to support the allegations of corruption made by the former managing director of the ERA, Joey Ebanks, in connection with the bids that were solicited in 2013 by the regulator for additional electricity provision. The allegations were made over a year ago by the former MD in the wake of his suspension and then subsequent arrest for theft and fraud. Ebanks, who has since been convicted and is currently serving a more than two year sentence at HMP Northward, alleged that bids had been tampered with and bribery had occurred. But the ACC has concluded its investigation and said that the allegations were completely unfounded.

Although Ebanks had originally denied all the allegations of theft and fraud, in January of this year he had a change of heart and made a full and frank confession to all of his wrongdoing. However, the former political candidate, talk show host and CUC employee has never retracted the allegations he made about the corruption surrounding the bids.

Following Ebanks' allegations about the tampering and possible bribery, the bid, which had been awarded to a Dart company, was cancelled. The ERA Board of Directors (BoD) then promised the public that it would commission an independent review of the process to determine if there had been any wrongdoing. 

“When the ACC, acting through the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service,subsequently initiated a parallel investigation, the ERA BoD resolved to let the ACC investigation also inform it as to whether anything had gone wrong in the bid process. The ACC, with the full cooperation of the ERA, has completed a thorough investigation of the previous bid process and specifically the allegations of impropriety made by the ex-MD and concluded that the allegations were completely without merit,” officials said in a statement released Thursday evening.

“In the wake of the spurious allegations made by the ex-MD and as a result of unavoidable and unforeseen delays and various timelines not being able to be achieved, the ERA had no choice but to cancel the previous solicitation process in July 2013,” the board added in the statement.

The ERA has since issued a new Request for Proposals (RFP) in response to the certificate of need which was issued some time ago by CUC. This new RFP was issued to five pre-qualified bidders plus CUC, which is obligated under its licence to bid. 

On 12 May 2014 the ERA received bids from three qualified bidders, namely CUC, Dart Enterprises Real Estate Ltd (DERE) and the Louis Berger Group (LBG). Officials said that between them these three bidders have submitted a total of 6 proposed firm power alternatives involving 4 different fossil fuels – namely liquefied propane gas (LPG), compressed natural gas (CNG), diesel oil (DO) and heavy fuel oil (HFO).

“The ERA is pleased by the diversity of fuels in the qualified bidders' proposals, and by the variety of equipment options offered,” the board stated. “The bidders have worked diligently to submit offers that seek to meet the need for new firm power generation, and the ERA values their efforts. The ERA looks forward, with the assistance of its consultant, ICF International, to ensuring that the bids meet the threshold requirements, and to then evaluating them in accordance with the detailed criteria set out in the RFP in order to select the solution that best meets Grand Cayman customer’s needs."

The ERA said it is working towards a July target date for completion of its evaluation, and the new generation would come on line in 2016. 

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Thieves targeting boats for pricey fishing gear

| 23/05/2014 | 13 Comments

(CNS): Police are warning owners to secure their boats and storage sheds and not to leave expensive fishing equipment or electronics where thieves can get at them. RCIPS officers from the CID said boat owners need to take precautionary measures to safeguard their equipment and electronics as thieves are going after them. Officers warned owners against leaving their fishing equipment and other valuables on their boats, if unattended or in the sheds next to their boats. Officers of the CID are investigating recent incidents where expensive fishing equipment and electronics were all stolen from unattended fishing boats and storage areas by the boats.

The police are also warning the public that is a criminal offence to buy goods that you know or believe may be stolen. Assists thieve to remove stolen goods or dispose of them can on conviction receive as much as fourteen years in jail..

Police said that anyone offering to sell something that is undervalued is likely to be selling stolen goods and they asked the community to contact CID. Any person who is offered to buy fishing equipment, electronics or anything of a lesser value should contact 949-4222 or to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers 800-8477(TIPS).

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Cubans arrested after near riot at detention centre

| 23/05/2014 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Police, immigration officials, customs staff, prison officers and even fire crews were all called to the Fairbanks Immigration Detention Centre on Thursday after a near riot broke out at the facility. Four Cuban migrants were arrested and three remain in police custody after yet another major disturbance among the detainees who are awaiting deportation back to Cuba. The men were said to be threatening injury to staff and to burn down the facility as tensions among the migrants mounted as a result of deportation problems. Premier Alden McLaughlin said local officials are due to meet with Cuban officials next month to review of the MoU as he said the repatriation timelines need to be addressed.

“I recognise that the situation was extremely volatile and praise for the staff who were able to manage the incident and diffuse it without any injury,” the premier said. “It is my understanding that tensions have been rising for some time now…This is largely due to the wait times for the Cubans to be repatriated back to Cuba and the uncertainty of when this will occur.”

McLaughlin said that he has scheduled a meeting to discuss the management of the centre next week but the issues appears to be down to repatriation times, which are taking two to three months rather than the three weeks agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding.

The premier warned that the arrival of any more migrant Cubans could make matters even worse. “Long term, the work really has to be with Cuba to work toward repatriation time lines that are in keeping with the three weeks in the MoU. We want to work with Cuba to fix this situation going forward.”

Thursday’s incident was reported to the 911 centre at around 10:30am when the migrants were said to be making threats to harm immigration officers and to burn down the detention facility, which was why the fire service was also dispatched. One migrant climbed on to the roof armed with rocks and another was said to have jumped the fence. As fears grew that the disturbance could get worse, enforcement officers from the prison, immigration and customs all attended to assist in quelling the potential riot.

The man on the roof eventually came down of his own accord but three men were taken to the George Town Police Station, where they remain while enquiries continue, an RCIPS spokesperson stated. Despite the troubles, no one was injured and the refugee that escaped by jumping the fence was reportedly re-captured by a prison officer after a foot chase.

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