Archive for December 5th, 2014

Officer resigns from jail

| 05/12/2014 | 63 Comments

(CNS): A prison officer who was placed on required leave this week as a result of revelations that he had a criminal conviction which he had not declared has resigned. Although the prison has still not confirmed any details, CNS revealed yesterday that the guard is Ricardo Fisher from Jamaica, who was convicted of a sex offence in the US in 2009 and deported from New York State, where he was living at the time. He is listed as a registered sex offender there but he did not reveal this conviction to HMP Northward, where he was working as a guard. The prison concluded its investigation Friday and the officer was to be formally charged before he opted to quit.

In a short statement released Friday evening the prison said:

“Suspended Prison Officer suspected of providing false information on the application to the Prison Service has today resigned with immediate effect.  The investigation into the matter was completed today and the suspended officer was called in to be formerly charged under the Prison Officers Discipline Regulations (1999 Revision).  At that time, the officer opted to resign from his post.”

No one, however, has stated how the guard slipped through the background clearance or how he had obtained a police clearance certificate.  There has been no explanation about when he was recruited or under what circumstances and there has been no indication from the prison about efforts to tighten up its recruitment practise.

The officer was listed on a US website, which offers a quick and easy background search on any name for a catalogue of possible offences or infractions and takes seconds to do the search.

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MLA aims to bring down CoP

| 05/12/2014 | 69 Comments

(CNS): West Bay MLA Bernie Bush has stated that unless the commissioner of police is dismissed or resigns from his post immediately he will be bringing a no confidence motion to the Legislative Assembly to get backing from the people’s representatives to oust the top cop from his job. Following the revelations this week that the police boss had presided over the recruitment of an officer from Jamaica facing murder charges the questions still remains over why the man wasn’t dismissed as soon as the charges were filed against him. Tyrone Findlay had only been on payroll for two months and according to the police law still on probation and he remained on pay roll for three years.

For the first two years he was on required leave but the last year he was back on the job in what the commissioner said was as a non-operational roll. An RCIPS spokesperson stated this week that Findlay was working behind a desk at the marine unit. However, other sources have told CNS that he was not working in that unit at any time and others have suggested he was working as an assistant to the commissioner, an allegaitons denied by the police.

Speaking to CNS earlier this week about the recruitment of the officer and the implications that it had Bush said the commissioner had to resign. On Friday, the member of the Cayman Democratic Party announced that he had decided he would bring a motion to the parliament as a reuslt of the representations and the public outcry.

“After extensive consultation with my constituents, some members in the Legislature and many former Caymanian policemen with regards to the lack of crime prevention and law enforcement strategies ….and a catalogue of management errors by the UK recruited Commissioner of Police; it is clear that a wide cross section has lost confidence in the Commissioner of Police,” Bush said. “The COP’s position in this country is no longer tenable. Failing his immediate dismissal or resignation, at the first available opportunity I shall be making a private members motion of no confidence in the Commissioner of Police.”

Bush also called on the wider community and responsible civic groups to support him as he also offered his thanks to those people he said that have called on him and encouraged him to speak out as he said, “This has given me the strength to stand for what is right.”

Bush is one of only three MLAS that answered questions submitted to all MLAs sitting in the Legislative Assembly. However, while Bush, Ezzard Miller and Alva Suckoo remain the only politicians to respond, CNS understands that behind closed doors other MLAs are also calling for the CoP’s resignation.

So far none of the three Coalition for Cayman representatives in the PPM government have spoken out about the situation despite the widespread public concerns about the revelations and CNS understands that the premier, who is still in London and expected back this weekend, remains supportive of the commissioner. The governor has also remained silent regarding the issue with her office telling CNS this week that she hasn’t decided whether she wants to comment or not.

The recruitment of the officer, who is now serving a twenty five year sentence for the killing of a suspect in Jamaica, has raised a number of questions which remain unanswered. Despite claims by the police commissioner that the investigation surrounding Findlay’s shooting of the victim had been cleared up when he was recruited to the RCIPS the charges were brought just two months later raising questions about how truthful Findlay had been and exactly where the glowing references he allegedly had, came from.

Once the charges were laid, Baines claims he could not lawfully dismiss the officer and this was why he was on required paid leave for more than two years. Eventually because the trail was delayed the CoP said he brought Findlay back to Cayman after a bail variation, earlier this year so he could return to work and allow the public purse the chance to get something back for the salary the man had received for more than two years without working and while living in Jamaica.

However, the police law states quite clearly that constables shall be enlisted in the service for a period of two years on probation and it is not until that period is up that the Commissioner can if he chooses confirm their appointment. Every police officer on joining the service is required to make a truthful declaration about past service in other forces and previous convictions. Given that Findlay remained on probation the commissioner’s claim that he had not choice seems at odds with the law.

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Woman and kids robbed in supermarket car park

| 05/12/2014 | 4 Comments

(CNS): A 39-year-old man from Bodden Town was in police custody on Friday after his arrest on Thursday evening for mugging a woman with two children in the parking lot of Countryside Shopping Village in Savannah. An RCIPS spokesperson said that the robbery took place around 5pm yesterday and reported by the victim to 911. The woman, who was with her two young daughters, aged ten and two and half, in the car park, was approached by a man who had a knife in his hand and demanded cash. She gave him a small amount of cash and the robber fled from the location. Police officers who responded to the call arrested the suspect a short time later. He remains in custody.

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Brac cops recover 2 pounds of ganja, 2 arrested

| 05/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 37 year old man and a 19 year old girl were arrested on Cayman Brac Thursday morning following a drug bust in Spot Bay. Police began the operation at just after 11:00am, yesterday (4 December) when the Joint Marine Unit (JMU) with Cayman Brac Uniform officers, the Customs K9 unit executed a search warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Law at a residence on Spot Bay Road. As the officers were about to search the residence the occupier ran off into the Bluff Area triggering a major search operation involving the police helicopter before he and the woman were arrested for drug dealing. When officers searched the house, police said they found around two pounds of ganja.

A search of the bluff area was conducted with the help of Air Support Unit and the man was apprehended. The pair were arrested for possession of a controlled drug with intent to Supply, Possession and Consumption of a Controlled Drug. Police said the girl has since been interviewed and bailed but the man remains in custody.

Chief Inspector Owens who heads up the Cayman Brac police said: “Again, the message is clear that illegal drug activity will not be tolerated, I wish to thank the community for their assistance in keeping illegal drugs off the streets of Cayman Brac and the Sister Islands but more so I want to recognize the excellent proactive work being done by our joint unit.”

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Premier happy with trend in public accounts

| 05/12/2014 | 38 Comments

(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin has said that some local pundits are increasingly “liberal with their criticisms but careful with their praise” when it comes to government, and despite what he said were real improvements in the public accounts situation, he expected some would still not be happy about it. However, speaking in the Legislative Assembly last week before 16 financial reports from government were tabled, he said he was happy with the trend and happy with the work of civil servants to turn things around. “Despite the naysayers, this government is doing its job and doing it well,” he said.

McLaughlin said that the announcement about the improvements in government accounting by him last month was greeted with cynicism but he said he believed there were genuine improvements and there was more good news coming. Of the 16 reports tabled in the LA last Thursday 75% were unqualified 18% had qualified opinions and just one late report from 2012 had a disclaimer.

The reports he said for 2013/ 2014 were looking very good and the expectation was that this could be the first year where government would not receive any disclaimers across the financial reporting entities.

“Just this week the auditor general’s office advised my office that a total of 24 out of 42 entities have been signed off by his office and 16 are unqualified and eight are qualified and two waiting a resolution of matters,” he said.

He admitted that not everything is well and government was still striving for improvement. But he said the auditor general had said he is happy with the improved position and happy with the trend that he is seeing.

“I am also happy with this as is my government,” he said. “I believe the country as a whole can be happy that the position and trend are improving. They will see further improvements…But I have been around long enough to know that no matter how well we do there will be some who will find no pleasure in this announcement and complain. There is an increasing tendency for the pundits to be liberal with their criticisms and careful with their praise but that is par for the course.”

Commending the civil servants he said they had worked long and hard to ensure the country was improving its accounting practices and he said he believed that government had now established a good working relationship with the auditor general’s office.

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Experts accurate with hurricane season forecast

| 05/12/2014 | 7 Comments

(CNS): There were just eight named storms and only six became hurricanes during what turned out to be a quiet season as predicted by experts in the Atlantic this year. In May, the National Hurricane Centre had called for eight to 13 named storms, three to six hurricanes and one to two major hurricanes in its outlook for the season which turned out to be pretty accurate. But despite not even a warning in the Cayman Islands the quiet season still impacted Bermuda which had to weather two storms. Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricane Gonzalo hit the island within a seven day period demonstrating that even in the quietest of seasons there is no room for complacency.

Given that the Eastern Pacific season endured its most active since 1992 it could just as easily be the other way round next year. Louis Uccellini, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service warned that it was not always going to be the case that the region would escape the stormy weather as he urged communities to refine their response plans in the down season.
Scientists from the NHC explained why the season was so quiet in our region.

“A combination of atmospheric conditions acted to suppress the Atlantic hurricane season, including very strong vertical wind shear, combined with increased atmospheric stability, stronger sinking motion and drier air across the tropical Atlantic,” said Gerry Bell, lead hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center. “Also, the West African monsoon was near- to below average, making it more difficult for African easterly waves to develop.”

Despite the low number of storms NOAA scientists said they were still able to use new tools that have the potential to improve hurricane track and intensity forecasts, this season. Among the highlights were both manned and unmanned aircraft missions in Atlantic hurricanes to collect data and evaluate forecast models.

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Cayman Thanksgiving

| 05/12/2014 | 49 Comments

I know that we are in the midst of the busy Christmas season, but it’s time once again for us show our gratitude for our multitude of blessings. Four years ago an innocent child asked her parents why the Cayman Islands did not set aside a specific day to give thanks for allthat we have. After all, she observed, other countries take time to stop, share a meal, fellowship and offer gratitude.

Fortunately for us, that little girl’s parents took her question to heart and set into motion what is becoming a new annual tradition – Cayman Thanksgiving. As was recently announced in the Legislative Assembly by our Minister for Culture, Hon. Osbourne Bodden, Cabinet has agreed to officially recognise the first Sunday in December as Cayman Thanksgiving.

This first Sunday in December, marks the official end of hurricane season; one of the many things for which we can be thankful.

God has spared us the wrath of another atrocious storm this year and for that we are extremely grateful. But there are so many other reasons for us to give thanks.

I believe sometimes we forget, in the grand scheme of things, that Cayman is blessed beyond measure. We hear and read of wars, famine, starvation, crises – well the list goes on – in other countries. Sometimes I believe we have become a country of bickering people. Cayman Thanksgiving is meant for us to stop sniping, reflect and join together for fellowship and a meal. It is also about our Caymanian heritage, which is steeped in food, music, faith and sense of family; it’s what still connects us as a people.

The best way to be thankful, I think, is to use what you have for the greater good.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25, he tells us that Jesus finds favour in those who actively care for their fellow man. Beginning in verse 35 Matthew writes “For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you invited Me in; naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to visit me”.

Jesus was telling the most righteous among him that whenever they had taken care of their fellow man, they had also cared for Him.

We are called to care for our brothers and sisters and that includes all and sundry who live in and visit the Cayman Islands.

I invite you to begin the celebration of Cayman Thanksgiving on Saturday, 6 December, in Lower Valley where Thanksgiving and Marketon the Grounds have been combined to give us Market and Music at the Grounds at the Agricultural Pavilion. It’s going to be a free day of entertainment and camaraderie. While you are there, get a plate of food, let your children have fun with some of the planned activities, or buy locally grown provisions to create your own Cayman Thanksgiving meal.

Many of our churches will also be holding special Thanksgiving services on Saturday and Sunday. Going to a church service is always a good way to show our thanks.

As many of our traditions in the Cayman Islands go, food is an integral part of the festivities. That includes Cayman Thanksgiving. You can host a dinner, be a guest, prepare traditional Caymanian food or go to any of the restaurants offering a Cayman Thanksgiving-themed dinner.

I said earlier that we have been spared the wrath of another hurricane this season. That means many of us have stocks of hurricane supplies, including non-perishable food. I encourage you to take those supplies to a food bank or fix up a basket of goodies for a family or person in need.

We indeed do have so much to be grateful for in Cayman.

I want to publicly thank Kayci Rose for asking that innocent question of her parents four years ago and for her parents, their friends and the many dedicated volunteers for sharing this vision with the rest of the country, setting into motion one of our newest and most precious traditions.

Please take this weekend to show kindness to each other and show your thanks for all our many blessings.

On behalf of Government, my family and myself, I wish you a happy Cayman Thanksgiving.

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Sunset’s women start campaign to defend cup

| 05/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CIFA):  Reigning Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) President’s Cup champions Sunset FC open their title defence against Alliance FC on Saturday 6 December. Sunset and Alliance face off at the Annex, while at the Ed Bush Sports Centre Elite tackles Scholars in a match of West Bay based teams. The second leg matches of the tournament will be played Saturday January 17. With four teams entered, this round of matches are the semifinals of the competition. The Men’s edition of the President’s Cup kicks off Saturday, 10 January and Sunday 11, January 2015. Champions Bodden Town have been drawn to face Cayman Brac FC.

Bodden Town are the reigning Premier League and President’s Cup champions.

In other fixtures, Roma faces Scholars International, Elite tackles Premier League leaders Cayman Athletic and George Town meets Sunset.

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QC: Ebanks killed banker

| 05/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A jury was told it could safely convict Leonard Antonio Ebanks of Frederic Bise’s murder, Thursday, as Simon Russell Flint QC dismissed the defendant’s claims of a conspiracy and said the jury could be sure he was one of the two men who had killed the Swiss banker. Flint said the evidence from two different women, who both claim Ebanks had confessed to them, was not a malicious collusion or conspiracy involving the police and the prosecution in order to wrongly convict an innocent man, but clear evidence that Ebanks was one of the murderers. Acknowledging inconsistencies in the women’s stories he said the fundamentals of what they said were the same and they had related facts that only the killer could have told them.

As he summed up the crown’s case before the twelve men and women of the jury after a four week trial in the Grand Court, the crown’s lead prosecutor said that Ebanks’ evidence that the women were lying out of malice and greed was “utter rubbish” but that was the only thing that Ebanks could say in defence of the charges.

He said the defendant had told lie after lie as he tried to evade a second murder conviction but the only reason why the women had given evidence about Ebanks’ alleged confessions was because he had not been able to stop himself from telling the women about his crime.
With no forensic evidence or eye witness evidence linking Ebanks to the murder of Bise the crown is dependent on the jury believing the accountsgiven by the women who, the crown said, do not know each other and had heard Ebanks confessions on separate occasions two years apart.

Flint reminded the jury of what he described as the horrific head injuries Bise had sustained at the hands of his killers and that the pathologist had said they had likely been sustained with a cinder block – the weapon that Ebanks had told both women he had used when he made his alleged confessions.

Bise was killed after what the crown believe was a gay sexual encounter for money. His badly beaten body was found in the back of his own burned out car which had been parked on the driveway in front of the house, where the Swiss banker was living at the time.
Flint said that Ebanks had been part of a joint enterprise with Chad Anglin and had killed Bise and that the jury could be sure that he would have no problem selling his body for sex and do whatever it took to get money for drugs.

The case continues Friday with the defence’s closing speech by Courtney Griffiths QC. The judge presiding in the case, Justice Charles Quin, is expected to sum up the evidence for the jury Monday before they will be asked to deliberate.

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