Archive for June, 2014

Cop car hits concrete truck

| 30/06/2014 | 37 Comments

(CNS): A police chase on Friday afternoon ended in a costly collision for the RCIPS when the officer driving the police car crashed into a parked cement truck. The RCIPS said that the vehicle was chasing a suspect following a reported hit and run in Sparky Drive, in the industrial area of George Town. The driver of the suspected car had refused to stop, regardless of the police lights and sirens. During the chase the police patrol car veered off the road and into the premises of National Concrete, where it crashed into the truck.

Needless to say, the police car came off the worst of the two vehicles. The officer driving the patrol vehicle received minor injuries and was taken to hospital, where he was treated and released.

Police said the report was received by the Police Unit, who responded to the hit and run at around 4:30pm but it is not clear how the car managed to hit the truck, which was parked on the private premises.

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Teen forger admits counterfeit charges

| 27/06/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A seventeen-year-old boy who is understood to be a top student at a private high school in Grand Cayman has pleaded guilty to two charges relating to counterfeiting. The teen is expected to be sentenced at the end of August after admitting that he was in possession of a fake CI$50 bill at his school last October and related implements of forgery at his home in Bodden Town. Represented by defence counsel Richard Barton, the young student was bailed to appear in court on 28 August pending a social enquiry report for his sentencing hearing.

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Shetty hospital treats cruise visitor for heart attack

| 27/06/2014 | 20 Comments

(CNS): The Health City hospital in East End has revealed that a 55-year-old female cruise ship passenger was treated at the facility following a suspected heart attack while aboard a Carnival cruise ship recently. The American patient, from Sarasota, Florida, was headed for Grand Cayman when the passenger woke in the early hours with chest pains. The ship’s medical staff performed enzyme blood tests and suspected a heart attack. She was brought to a doctor in George Town and then referred to the Shetty hospital, where she was treated and has since been discharged and is on the road to recovery.

During her treatment her husband stayed at The Reef Resort and following her successful recovery the couple returned home at the beginning of this week. The patient was physically fit, very health conscious and a keen diver with no prior cardiac history.

Dr Chandy Abraham, Medical and Facility Director at Health City, Cayman’s new private hospital specialising in cardiac surgery, cardiology and orthopedics, said the fact the patient had been treated in Cayman will greatly aid her overall recovery.

“In emergency situations such as this it is vital the patient receives excellent medical care as soon as possible after the cardiac event,” hesaid. “We were able to treat the patient as soon as she was sent to us. This is important because any delay in treatment for a heart episode can lead to a less successful recovery.”

Dr Chandy said the patient and her husband were extremely grateful she was able to receive medical care on island and did not need to be air-lifted to Miami for treatment, as would have been the case prior to the advent of Health City. “They were also extremely grateful to the staff and physicians at Health City for the care, attention and concern shown during this worrying time,” he added.

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Myles jailed for 6 months

| 27/06/2014 | 103 Comments

(CNS) Updated 2-30pm Friday: The former deputy chair of the National Housing and Development Trust has received a six month jail term in connection with his conviction for seven deception offenses. However, Edlin Myles has already been released from jail pending an appeal. The former NHDT director who has no previous convictions was sentenced by Justice Alex Henderson Friday, who said that a custodial sentence was required to act as a deterrent. He pointed to the breach of trust in the case and how Myles had used his position to sell the policies to the applicants of the government's affordable home scheme. But, within an hour of the judge's decision his attorney secured a bail hearing in front of another judge and kept his client out of HMP Northward.

Justice Williams is understood to have heard the bail application in Chambers where Ben Tonner argued for his client's bail to continue on the basis that an appeal has been filed against both conviction and sentence. As a result Myles was released from custody.

In explaining his reasons for delivering a custodial sentence Justice Henderson said that Myles had used his position as a director of the Trust to firstly obtain his victims contact details from a Trust employee and then introduced himself as a trust member when he called them to set up appointments. As a member of the committee which would decide which applicants would be approved for a home, the judge had said it was clear that this had influenced the circumstances of the deception.

Although the amount of money which Myles obtained amounted to just $630, the total was not the most significant factor in the case,but the degree to which a trust had been breached and his position abused for his own advantage.

The judge said the "principle of deterrent was paramount" in his decision to order a custodial sentence of six months and a compensation order for the $630 which was taken from the victims in premiums.

Myles was supported by friends and family as he was handed over to the authorities awaiting his departure to HMP Northward, before his attorney was able to get Myles' bail extended.


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Legislative changes pave way for conservation law

| 27/06/2014 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Some six months after the historic passage of the national conservation law in the Legislative Assembly the minster for agriculture brought two amendments to the House on Wednesday when parliament resume after the long finance committee hearings. Minor but necessary changes to the plants and the animals laws will enable Cabinet to implement the much anticipated conservation law and allow the formal creation of the environment council. Cayman, will once the necessary formalities are in place, final have some limited protections for its terrestrial wild life.

In addition to the passage of the animal laws the government also dealt with amendments to the tax information exchange laws to pave the way for automatic exchange. The LA had resumed on Wednesday after it had dealt with the finance committee to pass the budget through.

However, the proceedings were dominated by the opposition leader over Wednesday and Thursday as he sought to bring emergency motions dealing with the airport scandal and the question of what he has called the unfair treatment of hotelier Cleveland Dilbert and his application for a marina in Cayman Brac. (Check back for story on CNS later).

Following the heated debates on the two motions which both failed, the premier adjourned the parliament ‘sine die’. As a result the government was also forced to carry over three private members on immigration and import duty from the opposition leader and government back benchers.

Although the premier has said he is keen to set a more formalized time table and regular hours for the country’s parliament to meet so far this goal has remained elusive.  

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Mac calls for porn probe

| 27/06/2014 | 41 Comments

(CNS): The opposition leader argued hard on Thursday for a parliamentary enquiry into the reinstatement of the airport’s IT manager over allegations that he was using his government- issued computer to view porn and download sexually explicit images and how the former acting CEO came to leave the airport. McKeeva Bush was given leave to move a motion in the Legislative Assembly calling for a privileges committee to be formed to get to the bottom of what he said was direct interference by the board in the two related human resource matters. Bush also said the board chair had lied to Finance Committee when he insisted the board was staying out of personnel issues when there was significant evidence to the contrary.

The opposition leader argued that Finance Committee had been misled and members needed to enquire into all of the circumstances surrounding the series of events. He warned that if they didn’t, the matter would never be heard of again. He pointed out a number of issues that were being kept under wraps and said the public ought to be told the truth. Bush also laid a letter on the table of the LA from the airport’s lawyers to the board chairman, which he said the airport staff had denied knowledge of until the chair admitted its existence and brought the letter to the House.

Following revelations in Finance Committee and from evidence which Bush had following an FOI request, he expressed significant concerns about the catalogue of issues and events at Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA).

This included an employee who on the face of the evidence had been merely reprimanded for behaviour which constituted gross misconduct in relation to the pornographic material, and a second employee who had nothing to do with the porn scandal being wrongly besmirched as well. Then, after Kerith McCoy had said the IT manager should be sacked and raised concerns over board interference and while he was on leave, the board had maneuvered him out of his job. The board was then later forced to settle with McCoy, who was paid an undisclosed sum to take early retirement.

Bush also said it was very clear that the current board chaired by Kirkland Nixon was directly involved in many other staffing and operational issues, despite his direct denials to Finance Committee and the authority law, which does not allow such interference.

Although he pressed his point home hard to get the probe, making it clear that if the members did not deal with it, the issue would be swept under the carpet, Bush still lost the day. He had argued that a privileges committee could call all the witnesses and the full details would come out and it was not just about castigating people in public but to get at the truth.

Demanding once again that the current board be sacked, as he compared the situation to the previous board under his administration, Bush said what was good for the goose was good for the gander.

During his response to Bush, the premier made it clear that there would be no privileges committee established. He claimed that no one had lied to the committee and Bush’s motion didn’t establish a reason why a parliamentary privileges committee was the right way to deal with the issue.

Alden McLaughlin defended the present board and said that when they took over, Owen Roberts was in such shambles and facing such a crisis from the previous board’s tenure that the airport was in danger of having to close. Defending the current board as upstanding people, McLaughlin accused Bush of wanting revenge because all of the scandal and allegations of corruption surrounding the previous board that he had appointed.

The premier insisted that the airport staff had not lied about the letter as they had said it could very well exist but they had not seen it. McLaughlin said that while there may have been wrongdoing, and he could not say either way, regarding the IT manager or personnel interference and an enquiry may be required, the privileges committee was not the way to handle the matter.

He also claimed that the exposure of the letter between the airport lawyers, Ritch and Connolly, and Nixon to members, despite being in-camera, was unlawful as the correspondence was protected by client-attorney privilege. He said that Nixon was intimidated into given up the correspondence.

Nevertheless, Bush laid the letter on the LA table making it a public document as he said the people needed to see it. (CNS will publish the letter as soon as it has a copy.) Bush, also said it was absurd to suggest the chair had been intimidated as he said no one could easily intimidate Kirkland Nixon. He pointed out that the former fire chief also knew all about Finance Committee having appeared many times to defend the fire service budget.

Despite his pressure on the government benches and pointing out the message they would all send if they voted against his motion when they claimed to be the purveyors of good governance, the opposition leader was defeated when government members voted it down.
Cabinet member Tara Rivers, however, abstained as she said she was not present during the questioning of the airport staff and board as she was at a school graduation. Anthony Eden also declined as he had been acting as speaker when Bush had first attempted to file the motion.

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Myles banned from insurance work, awaits sentence

| 27/06/2014 | 12 Comments

(CNS): The former director of the National Housing and Development Trust, who was convicted earlier this month on seven counts of deception relating to insurance policy sales, has been banned by the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) from working in the local sector. During a sentencing hearing before Justice Alex Henderson Thursday, Edlin Myles’ lawyer revealed that his client’s career and reputation were in ruins as he urged the judge to pass a community based sentence. Ben Tonner told the court that Myles had been informed that CIMA had ordered his banishment from the sector he had worked in all his life.

The defence attorney said that CIMA has asked him to 'cease and desist' and Myles’ employer, Derek Bogle, had been informed by the regulatory authority that his licence would be at risk if he continued to employ Myles. Tonner said that it would be impossible for Myles to work in the business again. He said his client's reputation was in tatters and he had brought shame upon himself and his family, as the lawyer urged the judge to consider passing a community sentence. Tonner suggested that this was the best punishment for his client, as he said Myles could work with those he had wronged, which would be a more suitable punishment than jail.

However, CIMA issued a statement on Friday morning following enquiries by CNS stating that Myles had not yet been banned.

"“Contrary to what was said in Court yesterday by Counsel for the Defendant (Mr Myles) CIMA has not at this stage issued any directive or order in respect of Mr Myles, arising out of the circumstances of this case," the regulator said. "However, given the recent developments, the Authority will of course consider and exercise whatever options it may think appropriate in relation to him.”

Prior to defence submissions on Myles' behalf, the judge had heard submissions from Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Trevor Ward, QC, who had argued that despite this being Myles’ first offence, because it was a breach of trust case and a crime against vulnerable low income victims, he should still face a custodial sentence as a deterrent.

Justice Alex Henderson said he would take time to consider his verdict. Myles’ offences were said by the crown to go beyond that of an insurance sales man mis-selling policies. Myles was able to contact the clients and persuade them to buy the policies they didn’t need because of his position on the board but he was not charged with any corruption or abuse of office crimes. Having probed the crown on why that was, Ward had said that based on the opinion of the DPP and a second legal opinion that the elements required in law to make Myles a public officer were not there because of the way the NHDT was established.

Nevertheless, on several occasions throughout the sentencing arguments the judge noted the bigger picture and that Myles’ position as a director was obviously instrumental in the crime.

Justice Henderson will deliver his sentencing ruling at 10am Friday in court five

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First suspect chikungunya case emerges in Cayman

| 26/06/2014 | 16 Comments

(CNS): Public health officials sent a blood sample Wednesday to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad to test it for chikungunya after a patient who had travelled to countries where there is an outbreak of the virus went to the the local hospital with symptoms consistent with it. Medical Officer of Health, Dr Kiran Kumar said, “The CARPHA has been notified and we are advised that they will prioritise this case and will revert with the results as a matter of urgency. "While officials wait for the results, the MRCU said it is taking additional control measures in the area where the patient lives. The district where the patient is a resident has now been confirmed as George Town.

“The government has been closely monitoring this situation as its incidence has increased across the region,” said Osbourne Bodden, the health minister. “I want to assure the public that the Department of Public Health and the Mosquito Research and Control Unit are working together to keep a close watch – and are increasing their vigilance and mosquito control efforts to minimise the population of the vector.”

As of 23 June, cases of chikungunya have been confirmed in 24 countries in the Caribbean. 
The blood sample will also be tested for dengue and Dr Kumar encouraged everyone to take precautions regardless of the outcome of the test.

“Irrespective of confirmation or otherwise of this case as chikungunya or dengue, the public is being reminded to employ protective measures against mosquito bites locally or during their travels. Use mosquito repellents on skin and clothing, and when outdoors during times that mosquitoes are biting, wear long- sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks,” he advised.

While the MCRU are concentrating efforts to keep mosquito populations down in many cases the wider public can also help with simple precautions.

“People can greatly assist in reducing the local Aedes aegypti population by clearing their yards of containers that can hold water as these are favourite breeding sites for this mosquito,” MRCU Director Dr. William Petrie said.

As at 23 June,cases of chikungunya have been confirmed in 24 countries in the Caribbean.

For more advice on how to control mosquitoes in your yard, contact the MRCU on 949-2557 in Grand Cayman or 948-2223 in Cayman Brac; and DEH on 949-6696 in Grand Cayman or 948-2321 in Cayman Brac.

Key Facts on Chikungunya

  • Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It causes fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.
  • The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.
  • There is no cure for the disease. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms.
  • The proximity of mosquito breeding sites to human habitation is a significant risk factor for chikungunya.
  • Since 2004, chikungunya fever has reached epidemic proportions globally, with considerable morbidity and suffering.
  • The disease occurs in Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent. In recent decades mosquito vectors of chikungunya have spread to Europe and the Americas. In 2007, disease transmission was reported for the first time in a localized outbreak in north-eastern Italy.

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Cost saving report buried

| 26/06/2014 | 57 Comments

(CNS): Cayman News Service has appealed a decision by the Education Ministry refusing a freedom of information request to release a 2011 report demonstrating how a substantial amount of money could be saved annually by amalgamating the two primary schools on Cayman Brac. Publication of the report and a related PowerPoint presentation, which was shown to a select group of parents in March this year, was blocked by Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues, who bypassed the ministry’s FOI manager and responded directly to the request, refusing on the grounds that the 3-year-old document contained proposals that have not yet gone to Cabinet for consideration. 

It is not clear when the PowerPoint presentation was made and for whom, but CNS understands that in March 2014, it was shown at a meeting of government officials, including Deputy Premier and district MLA Moses Kirkconnell, Sister Islands members of the Education Council and six parents of Brac children who were at the time the presidents and vice-presidents of the three Brac PTAs.

One of the parents who was at the meeting told CNS, “It was decided that it would not be feasible as it would put too much financial burden on the people of the island having to drive to 2 different sites, etc.”

The FOI request, made on 18 February this year, was partially granted and CNS was supplied with figures regarding the student/teacher ratios of primary schools in the Cayman Islands, as well as the Lighthouse School.

However, the documents regarding the amalgamation and what savings to the public purse could result were refused. Because the request was answered by the most senior officer at the ministry, the appeal was made to the Information Commissioner’s Office on 25 March, but no conclusion has yet been reached.

In her refusal letter, Rodrigues said it was not in the public interest to release the documents.

“[T]here must be space for public servants to provide advice and opinions and make a wide variety of policy recommendations for the consideration of Cabinet and Cabinet must be able to consider and make decision on these recommendations in a conscientious manner. As the proposals have not yet gone to Cabinet for consideration, it would be inappropriate at this time to prejudice Cabinet’s deliberation and potentially confuse the public regarding what policy direction the government intends to take by releasing the requested records.”

The chief officer also found that disclosure of the documents might “inhibit the free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation”. She claimed that civil servants “must be able to share all possible options and provide advice and recommendations freely and frankly to be considered by senior management and by policymakers in order to ensure decision-making processes are robust.”

An additional factor against the disclosure, Rodrigues said, was that public servants might feel “restrained in the execution of their duties by the fear of proposals that they make — particularly if those proposals are not accepted by the government and contain recommendations that would be unpopular among the general population — being made under the FOI Law.”

CNS journalist Nicky Watson said she believed the documents were being suppressed by dragging out the FOI process unnecessarily. “The arguments against disclosure could apply to almost any report in any government entity and certainly does not seem to be in the spirit of freedom of information,” she said. 

“Regarding the parents who have seen the presentation: PTA members have no expectation that their executive officers will provide input regarding important policy decisions on their behalf, in secret, and without consultation with the wider membership, and do not give them the authority to do so,” Watson noted. “Therefore, if the six parents were there in their capacity of PTA officials representing their members, it is reasonable to assume that the education officials would have expected the PTA members present to have passed on the information to, and asked for feedback from, their respective associations, thereby making the presentation, or at least the facts included, a public matter.

“If they were not present in their capacity of PTA presidents or VPs, then the government officials have now made their presentations to six members of the public with no authority or mandate to provide advice on public policy, thus also rendering it partially in the public domain. Either way, the government officials have now opened this presentation to public scrutiny. Having done so, they have negated the argument thatthis informationwas for Cabinet only.”

Watson added, “The original document by the ministry regarding cost savings by amalgamating the primary schools on Cayman Brac was, I understand, prepared in 2011. It is unreasonable to argue indefinitely that this is a matter for Cabinet to make a decision on before it is made public.”

“What I find most concerning is that, as well as saving money for the whole country, I understand that this proposal may include educational benefits to the children of Cayman Brac. The ministry needs to present if to all the parents and teachers on this island, not just a select few, so that they get real feedback from all the people that this would affect. I cannot imagine why they haven't already done so,” she said.

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Hospital to host critical illness symposium

| 26/06/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Health Services Authority is hosting its first Critical Illness Symposium, later this year to provide an educational platform for clinicians working in the field. Open to all healthcare providers, whether they work with patients who are critically ill or not, the event will be free to all locally registered medical professionals and will feature sessions aimed at managing acute conditions in adults and children, as well as lectures on acute deteriorations in neurological and mental health. In addition to local presenters, it will also feature experts from the US and the UK to host workshops and deliver talks.

Dr Elizabeth McLaughlin, Acting Chief Medical Officer and Clinical Head of Accident & Emergency and EMS, said the symposium will be relevant for a wide range of medical professionals. “Attendees will be able to rehearse scenarios that don’t happen every day and update themselves on current best practice. They might not be frontline emergency caregivers but can still improve how they might handle difficult situations within the limits of their expertise,” she added.

Tenet Healthcare, the sponsor, encouraged emergency responders, front line doctors and nurses and critical care clinicians in particular to take part.

“In collaboration with the H.S.A we have ensured that attendees will enjoy presentations from some of thetop medical professionals in their field,” said Dr Mercedes Dullum, the Medical Director with Tenet Healthcare International Services.

“These include Dr. Ali Shahriari, Cardiac and Vascular Surgeon with Tenet, Florida who will be presenting on the acutely unstable cardiovascular system, Dr Monty Mythen, Professor of Intensive Care University College, London, who will be giving a talk on fluid management, and Dr James Robertson, Consultant Paediatrician with Trincay, Cayman Islands, who will speak on how a critically ill child would present. We are sincerely grateful to these and all our distinguished speakers for donating their expertise to this significant event,” Dr Dullum said.

The symposium is scheduled to take place at The Westin Grand Cayman Resort 12 – 13 September 2014. 1It starts at 8:00am on Friday until 4:30pm) and then on Saturday from 8:00am until 10:30am. 

Registration is limited and interested persons should register as soon as possible.Contact to register or for more information.

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