Archive for November 24th, 2014

Cops arrest suspect GT street robber

| 24/11/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police arrested a 34-year-old local man from George Town on suspicion of robbery on Sunday in the wake of an attempted street mugging that evening and after a couple were robbed at knife point early on Saturday morning in the downtown area of the capital. The RCIPS received a report around 1:30am Saturday 22 November that a man and a woman walking on the waterfront on North Church Street were approached by man armed with a knife who demanded money. The robber forced the man to his parked car nearby and made off with a handbag containing cell phones and miscellaneous items.

The robber, who escaped on foot, was described as being between 30 and 35 years of age, dark skinned, and around 5’8” to 5’9” in height with a skinny build, wearing a hoody and jeans pants.

Then, at around 6:30pm on Sunday 23 November a man attempted to grab a woman’s handbag as she also walked along North Church Street. Police did not say if this man was armed but the would-be robber ran off empty handed after a scuffle with the victim.

A short while later, police said that the George Town man, who remained in custody Monday, was arrested on suspicion of robbery.

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Crown depends on supergrass

| 24/11/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following the acquittal of the man police believe is the mastermind behind Cayman’s largest ever bank robbery, the CNB daylight heist, as well as the WestStar robbery, and three other men involved in the bank job, the crown will need to call back its key witness. The Court of Appeal has ordered that a new trial should take place for David Tamasa, as well as George Mignott, Andre Burton and Rennie Cole early in the New Year. However, the case against the men for stealing over $500K in the armed hold-up hangs heavily on the evidence of Marlon Dillon, the prosecution's so called ‘supergrass’, who is understood to have recently been released from custody and placed in some form of witness protection.

The crown will now need to call Dillon back because without him they will not have a case against the men, which could see Tamasa, the suspected mastermind behind the allegations, and his alleged accomplices, George Mignott and Rennie Coles, walk free. Burton, who was convicted with Tamasa in the robbery of the offices of local TV station, WestStar, did not succeed on appeal against that conviction and will therefore remain in jail regardless of the outcome of the CNB retrial. Ryan Edwards, the sixth man in what police believe was a gang of robbers that included Dillon, remains convicted in both cases.

The Court of Appeal overturned the majority of the CNB convictions on a technicality regarding the failure of the judge to point out to the defendants that their decisions not to take the stand could allow the jury to draw an adverse inference. The situation did not apply to Edwards, whose appeal was dismissed and who also remains convicted of being the getaway driver in the WestStar robbery.

The three-judge panel made it clear, however, that the decision was based the technical irregularity and had nothing to do with the key witness, despite extensive arguments by all of the defence attorneys in the bank robbery appeal that Dillon’s evidence was seriously flawed.

Dillon was arrested in the immediate wake of the CNB robbery, which came after the WestStar hold up. Following his arrest and during police interviews, which have been heavily criticised for the tactics used to coerce the witness, Dillon confessed to his part in the robbery and sometime later admitted to being involved in the WestStar case.

He named a number of accomplices in both cases but several people were never prosecuted as they had full alibis and could not have played the parts indicated by Dillon. During a more than two year period in which Dillon, because of the risk to his life, was held in solitary confinement in a cell described as not being fit for human habitation, he gave numerous statements to the police regarding these robberies and that of the murder of Mackford Bush, which resulted in the conviction of Brian Borden this summer.

The statements varied wildly, however, with his evidence conflicting with telephone evidence, which led to the acquittal of Tamasa in the WestStar heiston Friday with no new trial ordered. The appeal court said in that case the crown should not be given another chance to plug its evidence gap.

Nevertheless, with a retrial order for four out of the five men originally convicted by a jury in the CNB case, the crown will still need to recall their controversial witness if they are to have any chance of securing a second conviction in the bank robbery.

Dillon was, however, sentenced just over two weeks ago by Justice Charles Quin.

As a result of his co-operation and the risk now to his life and that of his family after giving evidence, as well as the appalling conditions under which Dillon has been held since his arrest in June 2011, he was given a three year sentence. Having already served two and half years, it is understood that Dillon was released almost immediately after his sentencing.

Although he was expected to be placed under formal witness protection overseas, concerns were raised that as a result of the conviction Dillon may not be allowed to move as expected and join his family, who were whisked away by the authorities immediately after Dillon began naming the people he said had robbed the bank and the television centre’s offices.

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End of the West Bay Road

| 24/11/2014 | 54 Comments

(CNS): Four ladies from West Bay battling to save the coastal road that has served as a highway from West Bay to George Town for over hundred years received disappointing news Friday, when the Court of Appeal upheld a Grand Court’s decision to throw out their legal action on a time technicality. The ladies had argued through local attorney Anthony Akiwumi that the start point could not be the signing of the so-called ‘NRA agreement' in December 2011 as it was a closed door deal, which was not made public until after the strip of road was closed and handed to the local developer, Dart Realty.  However, the court said it was satisfied that Justice Alex Henderson was correct to find the action out of time. This means that the merits of the case have still not been considered by a court.

This is, however, likely to be the end of the road for the women, in more ways than one, unless they can raise the necessary funds to fight the issue before the Privy Council in the UK.

The women were granted legal aid for the case when it was heard before Henderson. But because of arguments over when the deal was truly made, an issue that remains in question because of the closed door nature of the talks and the fact that the deal remained under wraps, the details of the action filed by Alice Mae Coe, Annie Multon, Ezmie Smith and Betty Ebanks have never been examined by a judge. 

As a result, the women raised their own money to fight the decision by Henderson on appeal and if they are to take the case to London they will once again need to finance that action themselves.

If, however, this is the end of the West Bay Road, Dart is, in the near future, likely to receive the remaining strip of the 4,000 metre stretch of the road, given to him in the closed door swap.

The strip given to Dart before the general election in 2013 is now mostly under sand after the developer  planned to begin work on revamping the public beach. However, ongoing negotiations between Dart and the government on elements of the same deal have stalled that project, though work continues on what will now be a beachfront resort on the site of the former Courtyard Marriott.

If the developers are given the remaining strip of road, it will be able to develop what will be a significant stretch of beachfront property on the very last remaining unspoilt strip of Seven Mile Beach.

During the election campaign the PPM had promised to renegotiate the controversial NRA agreement with Dart and had stated that they wanted to find a way to retain a through route for the original West Bay Road around Dart’s development.

However, the PPM said after coming to office that the deal was legally binding and they could not pull the plug. In addition, negotiations over the last 18 months to balance the deal back in favour of the public purse stillappear to be making slow progress. Promises by the PPM to overturn the concession given to Dart of a 50% accommodation tax rebate on all his tourist properties for the next thirty years have not yet been fulfilled. Where government now stands in this deal remains unclear.

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Bush postpones30 year anniversary bash

| 24/11/2014 | 50 Comments

(CNS): The opposition leader, who is marking 30 years in Cayman politics this month, has postponed a public party at Pedro Castle, planned for this Friday, due to his wife’s ill-health. McKeeva Bush, who has had his fair share of trials and tribulations during his political career, has kept a low profile since he was acquitted of corruption charges by a jury after a month long trial in September and October. His wife was taken ill shortly after the trial and the couple are understood to have been in the US as a result. The celebration marking three decades as a West Bay representative for the leader of the UDP, now renamed Cayman Democratic Party, will now take place at Tiki Beach on Boxing Day.

“On behalf of the Cayman Islands Democratic Party (CDP) and myself, we would like to advise the public of a date and event change of the 30 years of Service Celebration in my honour, which was to be held on Friday, 28th November at Pedro Castle,” he said in a statement. “As Ihave been off island with my wife attending to medical issues, we have had to postpone the event to Friday, December 26th at Tiki Beach. This is an event that will be open to the public and I look forward to celebrating with you all,” he added.

After a long career in the Legislative Assembly that has seen Bush serve as a back-bencher, a minister of a number of different portfolios, leader of government business, the country’s first premier and now, for the second time, the opposition leader, the recent trial has overshadowed the political veteran’s milestone.

Although Bush cleared his name regarding the allegations of abuse of office, the courtroom drama revealed the extent to which Bush was gambling on slot machines during his time as the country’s leader at the beginning of the last UDP administration. Although his enjoyment of gambling had been the subject of public speculation for many years, the trial confirmed how much time and money Bush was spending on slot machines while he was leader of government business and then premier.

During the ten month period between July 2009 to April 2010 when Bush was accused of abusing his office because he had used a government credit card, along with several of his own, to draw cash in casinos, the court heard he had spent around $430,000 gambling and lost over $260,000 during that time period. The evidence revealed that Bush had been gambling at the machines for hours on end while on business trips as well as when on leave.

Although Bush was acquitted when he was able to demonstrate that there was no laws or regulations at the time preventing him from using his government credit card to take cash advances from anywhere, including casinos, it remains to be seen how much the revelations over the gambling have damaged his future political prospects.

After the UDP’s defeat in the 2013 election, which owed much to the party’s split as a result of Bush’s arrest, the opposition leader has renamed his party the Cayman Democratic Party.

Bush had stated after the trial that he would be hosting political public meetings but his wife’s ill health has prevented Bush from returning to the political hustings.

During his trial Bush was able to demonstrate that the FCO, and in particular former governor Duncan Taylor, seemed keen to see Bush’s political demise. When he was acquitted, the opposition leader indicated that Geoffrey Cox QC, his leading defence attorney, would be raising the issue in the corridors of power in Westminster.

A Conservative backbench MP in the UK parliament, Cox has not yet raised the issue in the House of Commons or made any public statements regarding the correspondence between Taylor, the FCO and the police commissioner.

Emails sent by Taylor indicated that he was directly involved in the numerous corruption investigations regarding Bush. It was also clear that the governor was hoping that at the very least the credit card charges would stick and oust him from office and ensure that the UDP leader would be fighting an election while facing what were originally charges of theft, making his re-election as the country's leader less likely.

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Cops deny ignoring Jolly Roger collision

| 24/11/2014 | 13 Comments

(CNS): The police have said that the collision between the 45 tonne Jolly Roger and a group of teenagers in a boat made from cardboard, which occured on Saturday 15 November, was not reported to them until the Monday after the incident. An RCIPS spokesperson said that a marine unit was assigned to the cardboard regatta, which was part of the Pirates Week activities. He said that the officers aboard did not ignore pleas for help from the teenagers, one of whom sustained a mild concussion when the pirate ship sank their home-made boat, but were unaware of the situation. The police, he said, were rescuing other people whose cardboard boats had sunk.

As the officers were behind the Jolly Roger, they did not witness the collision.

However, the police have confirmed that an investigation is underway and when complete a file will be passed to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for a ruling regarding the possible prosecution of the captain at the time.

Police said that officers from the joint marine unit were at the time engaged “rendering assistance to other participants of the race whose vessel had sunk” and the incident was not reported to the police until Monday 17 November by a concerned citizen who had witnessed the event and who was “deeply concerned”, the police spokesperson stated.

There were no calls received by the emergency communication centre (911) on the afternoon of the incident. A teenage girl who was in the cardboard boat and was hit on the head as the pirate ship ploughed over the cardboard boat was treated for a mild concussion.

“While we cannot go into specifics of the investigation, we can confirm that statements have been recorded from the injured party and her parents,” the police stated Friday. “All persons spoken to so far have indicated that they did not alert any of the authorities at the time for assistance.”

Anyone who witnessed the incident can contact Inspector Ian Yearwood or Constable Cyril Gordon on 949-7710. 

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Bodden Town end Auckland tour with a win

| 24/11/2014 | 8 Comments

(CIFA): Bodden Town Football Club defeated Fiji Under-20 by 3-0 to register their first win of the Ocean Football Confederation (OFC) President’s Cup in Auckland on Sunday. Goals from Ricoh Brown (29th), Theron Wood (53rd) and Jonathan Ebanks (64th) handed the reigning Cayman Islands Premier League Champions a hard fought victory over a talented Fijian side, headed to the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup. In his best game of the tournament Ricoh Brown opened the scoring for Bodden Town. Against the run of play, Brown got on the end of an errant back pass and slotted the ball past Fijian keeper Misiwani Nairube from outside the 18 yard area.

Wood doubled the score in the second half, capping of a counter attack led by Brown on the left attacking side. Brown played a neat pass the Wood who dribbled one defender before pushing his left footed shot past Nairube. Brown orchestrated the third goal as well, playing the cross that Emmanuel Brown slotted home to complete the victory.

“This is what we came here for,” said Captain Ramon Sealy, in his post-match interview. “We wish we could have done it in the other games, but we are glad that we got the victory today.”

Strengthened by the return of central defender Yefry Calderon, who arrived in the country 24 hours before the final match, and the return of Karl Solomon, who missed the second match with an injury, Bodden Town looked formidable in defense.

“We played our ball that what we can do. The other two games you saw a bad side of Bodden Town, where we didn’t knock the ball around,” Sealy said. “Today we knocked it around, used our flanks to our abilities and finished our chances, so that was a good result for us.”

Sealy was also crucial for Bodden Town, producing countless reflex saves to keep a clean sheet.

Bodden Town ended the tournament with a 1-1-1 record and finished fifth. They opened the tournament with a goalless draw against Singapore U-23, before being blanked by Auckland City 9-0. Sealy praised the level of competition offered at the President’s Cup and believes Bodden Town stands to benefit from the experience.

“This tournament showed us our flaws and our weaknesses, we are going to go and work on them. We will improve on our strengths as well, the tournament also showed us other styles which we can incorporate into our own.  This was a great tournament for us to come to,” he added.

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