Archive for December 15th, 2014

Governor backs Baines

| 15/12/2014 | 111 Comments

(CNS): The police commissioner has received the public backing of Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick. In a short statement on Monday afternoon from her office, she said she believed David Baines’ actions over the recruitment of a police officer under investigation for murder, later charged and convicted, were justified and in line with procedures. She took aim at those who have criticised the commissioner and said everyone should support him. However, a number of local politicians have made it clear that they no longer have faith in the police boss and also believe that he has lost the support of the wider Caymanian community.

Kilpatrick said the “false criticisms and unwarranted personal attacks” on Baines were damaging the reputation of the Cayman Islands and were undermining the effectiveness of the police and safety of the community, as she offered her full support to the commissioner.

However, this is unlikely to be an end to the issue, regardless of the governor's comments.

Backbench MLA Bernie Bush has said that he intends to bring a motion for a no confidence vote regarding the commissioner’s position in the Legislative Assembly to allow MLAs to express their concerns about the revelations regarding the recruitment of a Jamaican officer to the RCIPS who was convicted of murder last month.

Ezzard Miller (North Side), Arden McLean (East End) and government backbencher Alva Suckoo (Bodden Town) have all publicly expressed their concerns. Other members of the government benches are also understood to have raised their concerns with the premier behind closed doors.

The considerable amount of public backlash and criticism of the way the RCIPS is being managed in a number of public forums, as well as the parliament, appears to have done nothing to persuade the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's representative that the commissioner should be replaced.

In the short statement Kilpatrick said, “Having returned to office, I have reviewed the circumstances surrounding the recruitment of a Jamaican national officer by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and the subsequent decisions in relation to this officer when he was charged with a serious offence. I am fully satisfied that the actions of the Commissioner of Police were justified and in line with the law and standard disciplinary procedures for any civil servant.

“It is important for all sectors of the community to support the Commissioner and members of the RCIPS in their continued fight against crime on behalf of the people of the Cayman Islands. We should not tolerate false criticisms and unwarranted personal attacks on the Commissioner of Police as these serve only to damage the reputation of the Cayman Islands and undermine the effectiveness of the police and hence the safety of our community. The Commissioner has my full support as he carries out his vital duties,” she stated.

Premier Alden McLaughlin has made no comment on his position, and neither he nor any members of his Cabinet have responded to questions from CNS about their support or otherwise for the commissioner. However, he persuaded MLAs during last week’s Legislative Assembly meeting, in particular Bernie Bush, to hold their fire and wait until he had met with the governor to discuss the matter. In the statement there was no indication as to whether the governor had discussed the matter with McLaughlin and there has been nothing from the premier’s office about whether or not the leaders met.

During last week’s debate in the LA, Arden McLean asked the premier to impress upon the governor that the opposition and other members of the parliament would also like to discuss the matter with her and have a chance to express their concerns and those of their constituents.

The governor has made no mention of whether she will consider a meeting with the wider parliament or any members of the opposition benches on the matter of the commissioner's job.

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Merren admits serious drug offences in US court

| 15/12/2014 | 52 Comments

(CNS): Local businessman Bryce Merren has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute drugs. The 47-year-old Caymanian, who admitted the offence in a Puerto Rico court last week, still faces two other counts, one of money laundering and another drug-related offence of attempting to sell, distribute or dispense cocaine, but as part of a plea deal those charges are expected to be dropped. Merren was arrested in March this year in a sting operation in which he was accused by US law enforcement officers of being involved in a plot to to smuggle as much as 3,000 kilos of cocaine.

Merren is understood to have met an undercover federal agent in San Juan, which the US authorities claim is caught on film, on numerous occasions in connection with a proposed major drug deal.

He was also accused of transferring $200,000 as initial deposit for the smuggling operation. US authorities say that Merren planned to use business interests in the Cayman Islands and in Curacao to assist in laundering money from the sale of the cocaine. 

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Man shot near BT bar

| 15/12/2014 | 17 Comments

(CNS): Police are investigating a shooting which occurred in Bodden Town around midnight Sunday at the end of a violent weekend.  The incident took place close to the Everglo bar when a 43-year-old man from the district was shot in his left shoulder. An RCIPS spokesperson said he was taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town, where he was treated for his injuries, which are not considered life threatening. He is now in a stable condition, the police reported Monday. The shooting comes after a number of crimes in George Town over the weekend: there were two armed street robberies on Saturday night, as well as a violent stabbing and reports of a car being shot at, both in the early hours of Saturday morning. 

Police have arrested a suspect in the car shooting incident and have charged a man in connection with the stabbing but the armed street robbers remain at large.

Officers are now also looking for the Bodden Town shooter as no  arrests have been made in connection with that incident.

Anyone who may have witnessed this incident or who may have information to assist are asked to contact the Bodden Town Police on 947 2220 or Detective Constable Karen McQuade at 326-2558 or Crime Stoppers on 800 8477(TIPS).

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Bermuda gives green light to casino gambling

| 15/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Amid debate and controversy, Bermuda has passed legislation to allow casino gaming on the island. After a 10-hour debate in the House of Assembly the Casino Gaming Act 2014, tabled by Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell, was passed in the early hours of Saturday morning. This follows the Cruise Ship (Casino) Act 2013, passed in October last year, which allowed cruise ships to keep their casinos open while overnighting in port on the island. According to the Royal Gazette, Crockwell told the House during the debate on the new law he was confident casino gaming was right for Bermuda and that most Bermudians supported the legalisation, although he acknowledged that the subject remained a sensitive and emotive issue for some. Read more and comment on CNS Business

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Locals recognized by Rotary for job well done

| 15/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(Rotary): Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Central last week recognized two outstanding Caymanians for their contribution to their vocations.  The annual Vocational Service Award recognizes those individuals who have gone above and beyond on what has been required in their vocations. Recognized at the weekly Rotary Central meeting were Police Officer Miguel McFarlane and shipping advisor Raymond Scott. Officer McFarlane is well known to all Caymanians and businesses of Central George Town and along the waterfront. His pleasant smile and willingness to help anyone who looks for any kind of assistance. 

"When I joined the Police it was not for the money or positon, I joined because I truly saw a way of helping my community in a constructive way", said Officer McFarlane as he humbly accepted his Award from President Larry Tibbetts. "I thank Rotary Central for the very nice andkind recognition that you have given me” said Officer McFarlane.  Police Commissioner Baines who was also in attendance spoke highly of Officer McFarlane.  “Officer Miguel McFarlane optimizes the highest qualities of a police officer and is truly loved by the entire community of the Cayman Islands” noted Commissioner Baines.

Raymond Scott may not be visibly recognizable as Officer McFarlane, but his voice is certainly known if you listen to any of the talk shows. Mr. Scott is the Sub-Agent for Lloyds of London for Cayman Brac & Little Cayman and Cayman Shipping Advisor.  “I started as a shipping advisor at the age of 15; during my career I have been involved in over 100 rescues at sea,” he said. “This has included ships on fire, distress, and so on, and I have never gotten paid for it.  I do this because I love being able to help others and keeping alive the seafaring traditions of Cayman”

Both awardees were nominated by Rotarian Kent Eldermire, a member of Rotary Central.

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GT primary and Brac high students top spellers

| 15/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(GIS): Cayman Brac’s Layman E. Scott High School (LESHS) narrowly defeated John Gray High School to win the Lions’ Secondary School Spelling Bee last week. Individual spellers Gabriella Ritch and Dilan Tatum, both from LESHS, and Aaron Fernandes from John Gray took first second and third in a final where they battled it out with Thomas Sevik of LESHS, as well as Alec Harding and Toni-Ann Daley of John Gray.

At the primary level, George Town prevailed over five competitors to take top honours in the R.B.C. Royal Bank (Cayman) Limited Primary School Spelling Bee. Prospect Primary placed second and Bodden Town Primary third in the school rankings.

Amare Hamilton of GTPS placed first among individual spellers in the primary bee, followed by Deidre Edwards of BTPS in second place, and Jelani Hanson, also of GTPS, in third place. They beat out : Jemma Watson of GTPS; Aria Gooden of SJAPS; Everton Spence and Brianna Ebanks of Prospect Primary; Kadre Williams of Cayman Academy and Thaddeus Solomon of Savannah Primary in the final.

“We are delighted at the high calibre of performance and preparation byall participating schools. This means the students, guided by their teachers as well as parents or guardians, put in hours of hard work and quality effort,” commented the Education Department’s Senior Customer Service Manager, James Watler. “This is why we view all participating students as winners. They should all feel proud of their accomplishments. And of course, the top scorers deserve all the accolades that they receive,” he added.

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Bodden Town notice benefits of New Zealand tour

| 15/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CIFA):  A fourteen thousand kilometre journey, three weeks in the New Zealand and three intense matches in the Oceania Football Confederation President’s Cup have benefitted local Premier League Champions Bodden Town FC on and off the field of play. Bodden Town ended the week long competition with a 1-1-1 record (win, loss, and draw) on the field and countless memories off it. Bodden Town participated in community engagements, visiting the Flanshaw Road School and participating in the UNICEF Let’s Play Fun Day initiative, celebrating Children’s Rights Day.

“The team bonding is stronger than ever,” said Bodden Town Head Coach Elbert Mclean.

Representing Bodden Town and the Cayman Islands, against teams from Singapore, Fiji and New Zealand was a source of pride for the back to back Premier League Champions. In the opening match Bodden Town were held to a frustrating goalless draw against Singapore. They ran into a well-oiled machine in Auckland City, the eventual champions and lost 9-0. Auckland City are currently in Morocco participating in the FIFA Club World Cup against the likes of Real Madrid and CONCACAF’s top club Cruz Azul of Mexico.

In the fifth and sixth playoff Bodden Town produced their best all round performance of the tournament and defeated a physical Fiji Under 20 team 3-0.

Strikes from Ricoh Brown, Theron Wood and Jonathan Ebanks hit the target. Additionally Bodden Town custodian Ramon Sealy was rewarded with the Golden Gloves Award as the tournament’s BestGoalkeeper.

For Mclean the victory over Fiji was the most memorable moment of the tour but he also praised Sealy’s performance. “The victory was memorable, it was for our pride, pride of country, pride of Bodden Town,” asserted the veteran coach. “Several players benefitted from the trip, mostly Ramon Sealy, Santangelo Bush, Theron Wood and Ricoh Brown. It was good to see that with our small population that we can produce a quality goalkeeper. It was a good feeling for the club and him (Sealy).”

Since returning home Bodden Town has competed in three local fixtures, scoring two wins and a draw. Coach McLean believes the trip to New Zealand has made his team sharper, “The ball possession and the pace of the game are two areas which they have brought back home.”

Mclean who also led the team to the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship qualifiers in Puerto Rico this year, backed providing local clubs with opportunities to compete internationally. “It is very important not just for the exposure but to show the players they can compete on that level.”

“Bodden Town equipped themselves on and off the field in New Zealand,” said Cayman Islands Football Association Vice President Bruce Blake.

“The club gained valuable experience and served as ambassadors for the Cayman Islands with some brave performances. Such international exposure can only raise the team's level of play and in turn raise the standard within the Cayman Premier League. The Football Association is congratulates Bodden Town for a job well done,” he ended.

Bodden Town FC were invited by the Oceania Football Confederation and the organisation covered the team’s expenses, allowing them to participate in the inaugural tournament along with clubs from the Oceania and Asia. The tournament is an attempt by the Oceania Football Confederation to strengthen ties with the Asia and Americas.

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Court bids farewell to rolled over guard

| 15/12/2014 | 4 Comments

(CIJA): Public service that went beyond the call of duty was honoured on Wednesday 10 December, when a court security officer was feted in a farewell ceremony attended by the judiciary and staff of the courts. Headed by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, court staff and the judiciary gathered for the farewell ceremony in honour of departing security officer, Emelson Principe, who had served at the courts for four years. Returning to his native Philippines, he is departing in fulfillment of an immigration requirement. Speaking on behalf of judiciary and court staff, the chief justice said that Principe was the “embodiment of service.” 

The departing officer was honoured for his dedication above and beyond the terms of his job, the Chief Justice said, noting that, as one staff had observed, they had never heard the word “no” from him.

Court Administrator Kevin McCormac said,  “Emelson was the epitome of service; both as a security officer and as an acting court marshal, he was efficient, dedicated and considerate – nothing was ever too much trouble for him and he consistently performed his duties to a standard over and above that which could reasonably have been expected. We will all miss him very much.”

As a coincidence, on the eve of his departure, just hours before the ceremony, Principe had jumped in to apprehend an offender who had tried to escape as he was being brought to appear in court. 

Security Officer Principe was appointed acting court marshal 18 months ago, acting as and when required. As a mark of respect for his dedication, staff from all levels of the court, including judges and magistrates, joined in the widely attended ceremony. 

The chief justice presented an engraved clock and a monetary gift to which many people had contributed. Chief Justice Smellie said how sorry he was about Principe’s mandatory departure and that he hoped that he would return in a year’s time.

Principe served as part of the court’s security detail provided by National Security Services Limited. In December 2013 he had also received an award for outstanding service to Judicial Administration.

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One third of Passport2Success students land work

| 15/12/2014 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Organisers of the government sponsored training course for young unemployed people said that 33% of students on the latest course secured work before it was over. With unemployment among Caymanians still high, with anecdotal evidence suggesting the battle for work is getting increasinglydifficult, twenty young people graduated on 1 December, the 15th cohort of Passport2Success (P2S), a training initiative that helps to prepare people for the workplace. They were the third group this year to complete the 12-week programme and Programme Coordinator Shannon Seymour said many had raised the bar this time.

“The graduating group have demonstrated their commitment to learning the skills that will secure employment and help them to maintain employment, with 33% of the graduates securing full-time or part-time employment prior to the end of the programme,” she said.

Proving to be a popular and successful course, on average 85 per cent of participants complete the programme, with approximately 35 per cent having already secured employment by graduation, and 61 per cent within a year of graduation. In the 12 months post-graduation, 18 per cent of graduates also report furthering their education.

Participants engage in practical hands-on training in occupational, personal and job-specific skills. They participate in work placement, an opportunity to impress potential employers and provide volunteer work through community service hours. Now in its fourth year, organisers said P2S has prepared over 355 young Caymanians to enter the workforce with professional-level competencies and renewed confidence.

Employment Minister Tara Rivers said the programme was about developing the soft skills and gives them a competitive advantage.

“The Passport2Success programme provides an excellent opportunity for young people to develop professional skills and build confidence as they enter the workforce,” she added.

Sponsors who contribute to the programme’s success include Webster’s Tours, Butterfield Bank and Kirk Freeport. Butterfield Bank opened savings accounts for each of the participants and taught them about personal finance; Webster’s provides transportation to participants to attend classes and for group excursions during the programme; and Kirk Freeport provides gift bags for the special awards at every graduation and helps to teach participants about dress and grooming in the workplace.

For more information regarding the P2S programme, as well as application forms and start dates for the next cohort, visit or Passport2Success Cayman Islands on Facebook. The programme is a Ministry of Education initiative delivered through the NWDA and is sponsored by Butterfield Bank and Webster’s Tours.

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Women avoids jail after violent nightclub attack

| 15/12/2014 | 13 Comments

(CNS): A 23-year-old woman escaped jail time last month following her conviction for wounding another woman in a nightclub. Ericka Watler was given a 12 month probation order after she pleaded guilty to unlawfully wounding Jessica Eden at Nectar Night Club in November last year. The court heard that alcohol had fuelled both women into provoking each other, which led to a fight where Watler used a beer bottle to attack Eden. Although Eden suffered two facial wounds, the injuries were not considered to be serious and Watler, who had no previous convictions, was handed a non-custodial sentence and ordered to perform 240 hours community service.

She was also order to pay approximately KYD $1,500 of medical expenses incurred by Eden for treatment to her injuries.

Eden was said to be out enjoying Pirates Week on the night of the fight and decided to go to Nectar Nightclub and Watler entered shortly afterwards. Eden claimed that while she was at the bar, Watler showed her the finger and in response Eden sent her a "whatsapp" message, telling her what to do with it. This led Watler to attack Eden with a beer bottle on the left side of her face. A fight between the two women then broke out in the club, in which punches were thrown until both women were parted.

Eden was taken to the Cayman Islands  Hospital in George Town, where she was treated for two facial wounds and discharged. Water was arrested and interviewed after the altercation and said she was acting in self-defense. Her attorney told the court that there was a history of "bad blood" between the two women, which led to the fight. Watler had stated that she had no intention of attacking Eden and that alcohol had fuelled her impulsive reaction. She had also been deeply remorseful and accepted full responsibility over her actions.

In his ruling, Justice Charles Quinn stated he recognized that both women contributed to bringing about the fight but was concerned that "a young woman with such a promising future" allowed herself to be pushed past the point of rationality. He therefore made an order that Watler participates inanger management counselling so as to "never let her temper get the better of her again".

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