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Victims post reward on Brac burglar’s head

| 24/12/2014 | 23 Comments

(CNS): The victims of a burglary on Cayman Brac have posted an additional $500 reward with the local Crime-Stoppers hotline for any information leading to the capture and conviction of the villain. The anonymous crime tip hot line has launched an official campaign to try and bag the burglar who stole four television sets, a telescope and other electronic equipment as well as liquor. The house of Frank and Kathleen O’Brien at 12 Southside Road, Cayman Brac was also damaged during the break-in which happened sometime during the week before Thursday 18 December when the couple discovered the crime and reported it to police.

Cayman Crime-Stoppers Chairman, Malcolm Ellis, is appealing to members of the public to call the tip line now if they have any information regarding this crime. Crime Stoppers is able to offer a reward for information which proves valuable in solving a crime, and callers are given a unique code which they can use to make a claim. They never have to disclose their identity. The Cayman Crime Stoppers tips line is 800-TIPS (that is, 800 8477) and is a free, local call. Tips may also be submitted anonymously through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimestoppers.ky,” he explained.

The $500 reward is guaranteed for any tipster that helps solve this particular crime but they could get more directly from Crime Stoppers which has a continuous reward on offer for any crime up to a maximum of $1000.

Items stolen in the Brac burglary  include several Sony Bravia TV’s (32 inch, 46 inch and two 52 inch), a Meade 70AZ-TR 70mm Compact Retractor Telescope, three bedroom pillows in floral pillow cases, a charger for a large rechargeable flashlight, and assorted beer and liquor. Damage was done to the garage door entrance, the door from inside the garage to the house and the screen door on the beach side, lower level.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to come forward and call the Crime Stoppers tip line, 800-TIPS. Callers will not be asked to identify themselves – just provide information. Cayman Crime Stoppers is facilitating a reward of up to $500 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for these crimes.

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Job agency says website troubles tackled

| 24/12/2014 | 27 Comments

(CNS): The NWDA has been wrestling with gremlins on its website which a spokesperson from the agency said had posed difficulties for its clients accessing their account or registering online. However, following enquires by CNS after many readers contacted us about the problems logging on, the agency said they believed it is now resolved but it took longer than anticipated to address the issues as a result of the limitations of the software and budget cuts. Having found the solution Dr Tasha Ebanks-Garcia told CNS that the NWDA website was taken down for a period on Tuesday to implement the solution but it is now back up and running efficiently she also said that the agency was working with the computer services department (CSD) to ensure it stays that way.

“CSD has tested the site and based on its findings the solution has worked and the site is running efficiently,” she said. “The CSD commits to its continued support of the NWDA and the clients it serves.”

The employment ministry’s deputy chief who has oversight of the government job agency said that the problems were down to incompatibility issues.

“A review made by that Department’s help desk found that there were incompatibility issues with Google Chrome and Firefox browser that were a result of upgrades to the operating system in both of these programmes,” Ebanks-Garcia said. “Based on CSD’s examination of the problem it was determined that these issues were due to limitations in the legacy software supporting the site. As a result of resource and budget constraints the complex process of installation, configuration and testing ofnew software to resolve the issue has taken longer than CSD would have liked,” she added.
 

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Cops on the look-out for Christmas burglar

| 24/12/2014 | 4 Comments

(CNS): There were three burglaries on Monday over a two hour period in which the culprit made off with cash, jewellery and electronic items from the homes involved, police have said. An RCIPs spokesperson said officers believe the same burglar is responsible for the break-ins which happened in the Bel Air Drive area of South Sound, George Town. The first was reported at 1:38pm, where a home was broken into and watches stolen. The second burglary was at around 2pm at Cayman Crossing where cash, electronics, jewellery and a cell phone was stolen then at about 3:50pm the third burglary was reported on Bel Air Drive, where electronic items and watches were also stolen.Detectives said residents of the area who may have seen any one not belonging to that community should call GT – CID on 949-4222 or Crime Stoppers on 800- 8477(TIPS).

 

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Poll says Ozzie should go

| 23/12/2014 | 143 Comments

(CNS): The premier’s decision to swap around areas of responsibility to accommodate his party colleague, Osbourne Bodden, and not remove him from Cabinet is unlikely to put an end to the 'Ozziegate' issue. Over 600 votes were cast in the CNS straw poll during the last five days and more than three quarters called for Bodden’s resignation. The outrage about the minister’s behaviour towards his chief officer, Jennifer Ahearn, has not abated and the shuffling of ministries and chief officers by Premier Alden McLaughlin has done nothing to appease the public outcry and calls for the former health minister to resign.  A second poll on CNS indicated that almost half of the voters want to see him replaced by Alva Suckoo.

When asked if Bodden should resign, 78% said that he should go. In a related poll asking who should replace him, 49% backed Suckoo, with Roy McTaggart emerging as the second most popular choice with 19% of the vote. Although not scientific, the online poll gives a snapshot of publicopinion.

During the last week since the revelations that Bodden had publicly and loudly cursed at his chief officer in front of dozens of civil servants, it is the alleged nationalist slur that has caused the most concern. Bodden has not yet denied making the alleged comments deriding Ahearn’s Caymanian status, suggesting she was no more Caymanian than an “f^*#ing piece of driftwood”.

Following a number of stories on this website relating to the incident, there have been almost 1,000 comments posted to CNS, with the vast majority calling for Bodden to go.

Given the ongoing tensions in the community at present between the different expatriate groups, local people are feeling squeezed out of the job market at both ends. They see professional permit holders taking the top jobs in the finance ad related sectors, while cheap imported labour is taking the traditional posts held in construction and allied manual trades at the bottom.

So the stirring of nationalist sentiments, with the popular perception that the PPM is less welcoming to ex-pats than its former political rivals, the UDP, is fuelling further concerns. The public seems to think that the premier should have acted quickly and decisively to remove Bodden, demonstrating an intolerance in his government of such sentiments.

However, the complete silence from all government members about the outburst, coupled with the decision not to force Bodden’s resignation, has not proved popular with the broader public.

The premier has now taken on Bodden’s major ministerial responsibilities and now has direct responsibility for heath as well as environmental health and the controversial dump issue. Meanwhile, Bodden keeps responsibility for youth and sports with the addition from the premier’s portfolio of community affairs but has lost culture to the premier as well.

Not only has McLaughlin now taken on the more controversial portfolio, he has expanded the size of his ministry and is in danger of facing the criticisms that he hurled at the previous premier, McKeeva Bush, for taking on too many major ministries.

When he was opposition leader, the current premier derided Bush as “minister for everything” after he took on finance, development, tourism and financial services as leader of the UDP administration.

McLaughlin has retained his home affairs ministry, which includes the prisons, police and immigration, and has now taken on two more politically sensitive areas in order to protect his Cabinet colleague.

This is a decision that many commenters, not just on CNS but across the local media, say the premier will come to regret. McLaughlin could have turned to several of his backbench MLAs to take on Bodden’s ministry intact, in particular Suckoo, who won the support of the majority of CNS readers.

But the decision has been made, and while the premier may be hoping the matter will go away during the holidays, the populist outcry is unlikely to die down that quickly. The continued silence from Bodden himself as well as the rest of Cabinet about the alleged derogatory comments is not helping.

CNS is still waiting for the gender affairs and labour minister, Tara Rivers, to comment, given that this is a workplace issue involving gender.

Related article:

Cabinet shuffled for Ozzie

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Suspect robber tries to escape

| 23/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): One of four men charged with an armed robbery at Blackbeard's liquor store last week made a bid to escape from the court Monday afterhe and his co-accused were refused bail and remanded in custody until their next court appearance in the New Year. Police confirmed that two officers were slightly injured during the escape attempt by Devon Wright, who leapt over the court dock rails and headed into the court house foyer. The incident happened around 1:30pm, when Wright (23) appeared with Andrew Lopez (21), Bron Webb (21) and Randy Connor (24) before Magistrate Valdis Foldats. Police chased Wright and he was quickly detained and taken back to the courthouse cells.

All four men are charged with using an unlicensed firearm to steal around CI$5,000 from the booze store in Grand Harbour. The robbery happened at about 7:45pm on 17 December and was caught on CCTV.

While the getaway driver waited, three masked men went into the store, two of them armed with a shotgun and a handgun. As well as robbing the contents of the register, the men stole a customer’s purse. But less than half an hour later Wright, Lopez, Bron and Webb were arrested at an address in Prospect, where police found a large amount of cash, clothing and the customer’s purse. A shotgun containing three live rounds was recovered but police did not find a handgun. 

All four suspects were remanded in custody to HMP Northward, where they will spend the holidays and return to Grand Court on 9 January. Wright may now also face charges in relation to the attempted escape.

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Marathon man burgled despite securitymeasures

| 23/12/2014 | 65 Comments

(CNS): Cayman’s veteran marathon runner and local hero, Derek Haines, who raised over $1 million for Cayman Hospice by running six marathons around the world this year, became the victim of a burglary in South Sound yesterday lunchtime, along with at least two of his neighbours. Even though Haines has an alarm and other security measures, the burglars broke a window and, with the alarm sounding, helped themselves to a substantial sum of cash (a fund Haines was saving for a climbing trip with his daughter) and electronics, including laptops, iPads, phones and jewellery. However, Haines said his medals were safe and there was no cash in the house that had been raised for the Hospice.

A former chief superintendent with the RCIPS, Haines warned the community to be vigilant over the holidays and watch other people's properties because the burglars are brazen and do not care.

Despite the alarm and other security measures, the burglars seem undeterred and simply smashed the window right next to the security system sticker alerting would-be villains to the alarm, Haines told CNS. Nevertheless, at around 1:40 in the afternoon, with the alarms wailing, the culprits managed to make off with the loot from Haines’ home and at least two others in the neighbourhood.

Hoping that he might be able to recover some of the property stolen, some of which belongs to family members who are visiting home for the holidays, he asked people to contact the police if they are offered cheap electronics.

Haines said that following the incredible community effort to raise the cash for Cayman Hospice, it was a terrible shame that there are individuals who are preying on good people. 

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Cayman’s Jeff Webb in FIFA top job spotlight

| 23/12/2014 | 11 Comments

(CNS): President of CONCACAF, Jeffery Webb, is back in the spotlight regarding the possible top job at the international football body, FIFA. As scandal and skulduggery continue to plague the sports organisation and Sepp Blatter’s re-election remains in question, Webb’s name has re-emerged as a possible contender for the FIFA presidency. Candidates for the election next year must submit their intention to stand by 29 January, and according to reports on the BBC, while Blatter may be running again, he has not yet decided and if he doesn’t, Webb, Cayman’s own football boss, may be tipped to as his successor if he throws his cap in the ring.

According to the BBC, secret talks between FIFA officials and Sepp Blatter have taken place over his future and if Blatter decides he will not run, FIFA insiders are pointing to Webb as one of the main contenders.

Appointed president of CONCACAF in 2012 in the wake of the financial scandal involving the former vice-presidents, Chuck Blazer and Jack Warner, Webb has since stabilised the organisation's finances and led the anti-discrimination taskforce, which has introduced tough new sanctions for racism offences within the game.

Webb has said he doesn’t plan to run for the presidency this year, with many expecting him to target the 2019 poll. But as the pressure on Blatter continues to build, and given the recent haemorrhaging of FIFA's credibility, Webb is believed to be considering his options, the BBC said. Blatter has praised Webb in the past and lauded his efforts to reform Caribbean football.

With five weeks to go until the deadline for presidential candidates to formally declare their candidacy, it is thought that Blatter's actions backing the redacted publication of the Michael Garcia report when the current investigations have concluded has provided him with sufficientpolitical breathing space to make it onto the list of nominees.

The latest crisis to hit FIFA stems from the investigation into alleged World Cup bidding corruption that culminated in the resignation of ethics committee investigator Michael Garcia. He is claiming a lack of independence in the association’s judicial processes and a belief the organisation's culture was beyond reform.

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Cops warn drivers to stop driving drunk

| 22/12/2014 | 30 Comments

(CNS): After arresting sixteen people for driving under the influence of alcohol during the second week of the police Christmas safety campaign, Operation Dasher, officers warned drivers not to get behind the wheel if they have been drinking. An RCIPS spokesperson noted that drinking and driving is extremely dangerous as it places other road users at risk of being involved in a crash and receiving serious injuries. The police also raised concerns about the number of people using phones while driving after 45 people were fined during the last week alone and advised motorists to use hands free devises. In addition to the 16 drunk drivers and 45 drivers caught using their phones, police arrested another five people for driving while disqualified.

The festive road safety and anti-crime campaign will last into the New Year as the police increase the number of road blocks and crack down on rogue drivers.
 

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Burglars throw booze at cops

| 22/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Two suspected booze burglars were rounded up by police in the early hours of Friday morning, an RCIPS spokesperson revealed Monday. The masked culprits attempted to escape when they were caught red handed by officers by throwing some of their ill gotten gains at them but they were caught in a police cordon. The police had received a report via 911 that the burglary was underway at a bar on Seymour Road in George Town. When the police arrived they found two masked men, who were wearing dark clothing, leaving the bar with bottles of alcohol. On seeing the cops the suspects threw two bottles of alcohol at the uniformed officers before jumping a fence in an attempt to escape. 

However, they were apprehended shortly afterwards by other officers in a cordon near the Butterfield roundabout. Police said that the car used by the accused men was searched and a quantity of liquor and beer was found. 

The two men, both from George Town, aged 31 and 26, werearrested and then charged with burglary. The men were scheduled to appear in court Monday.

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Arguments adjourned in Watson’s dismissal hearing

| 22/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A dismissal application made by Canover Watson to argue that criminal charges against him should be dropped was adjourned Monday after his attorney told the court that he needed more time. Ben Tonner, from Samson & McGrath, told the court that it was "an unrealistic timeframe to work towards” to prepare the arguments for the case to be thrown out. At the end of last month Tonner said that a lack of evidence to support the charges of money laundering and corruption had led to the application, which is now likely to take place in February. Watson has not yet answered the charges in court but has denied all the allegations, describing them as “baseless”.

A trial date has already been set for next May if the dismissal argument fails. The court heard that if it goes ahead the trial would be likely to last three weeks.

Watson currently faces ten charges that all relate to a more than $11 million contract for a card payment system at the government hospital. The contract was awarded when Watson was chair of the Health Services Authority Board.

The full details of the charges have not yet been revealed and Tonner told the court during his client’s first Grand Court appearance at the end of November that he had not been served with any indictment or with the evidence in support of the allegations. But as a result of the charges laid against him, his liberty had been “restricted and his reputation unjustly tarnished”. 

Watson, a local businessman and Young Caymanian Leadership Award recipient, was also a FIFA official sitting on the world football body’s audit committee. However, following the charges he was suspended from that role.

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