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Police open murder enquiry

| 03/01/2015 | 15 Comments

(CNS): The West Bay man shot outside a local bar Saturday morning has died and police have opened their first murder enquiry of the year just three days in. Victor Oliver Yates (22), who was found by police outside Super C’s on Watercourse Road early this morning, died at the George Town hospital from his injuries. Police have not revealed any details but are asking anyone with information to contact them as soon as possible at the West Bay Police Station on 949-3999. Police examined the crime scene for several hours Saturday and a number of shell casing markers were spotted outside of the restaurant. Uniformed officers also searched the grassy area at the rear of the restaurant adjacent to Boatswain Bay Road.

The police, who were called to the bar at around 3:45 following a report of a man being injured, said Yates was found on the ground with at least one gunshot wound. He was taken to George Town hospital but died there later Saturday morning.

Officers have not said what sort of firearm they suspect was used, how many bullets were fired, how many gunmen were involved or if they believe the crime is gang related. They are however seeking the assistance of the public who can also call the anonymous tip line CRIME STOPPERS on 800- 8477. A police spokesperson said a Family Liaison Officer has been assigned to the bereaved family.

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Cop’s gun seized at airport

| 02/01/2015 | 33 Comments

(CNS): A serving police officer whose gun was seized at the airport as he went through security has not been arrested and is still on active duty, the police have confirmed. Inspector Lauriston Burton, who is a licensed firearms holders, was stopped by customs back in October when his gun was spotted in his carry-on bag. Burton claimed to have the firearm in error and was allowed to continue his journey without any arrest. Police have said an enquiry has been underway for the last three months but Burton has not been charged and remains on full active duty. In contrast, on several occasions last year visitors with gun license, mistakenly travelling with ammunition, were arrested, charged and fined as a consequence.

According to Marlon Bodden, a former senior police officer who now heads up the enforcement arm of the customs department, when the gun and ammunition were spotted as the bag was x-rayed, it was seized. But Burton, originally from Jamaica, was not arrested and was allowed to continue his journey.

The officer told customs staff that he had intended to drop the gun and ammunition with a named person on his licence for safe keeping during his absence from home but forgot.

“This being the case, HM Customs made the decision, in consultation with the RCIPS, that this matter is best dealt with administratively. The firearm was retained by HM Customs and the matter referred to the RCIPS for further investigation,” Bodden stated. He added that Burton then continued his journey while customs took the weapon and the bullets.

The police confirmed with CNS this week that Burton’s firearms licence has been suspended and an investigation is being conducted into the circumstances surrounding the officer’s possession of the weapon at the airport.

“Once completed, the file will be forwarded to the director of public prosecutions,” an RCIPS spokesperson said. “The officer remains on full operational duty.”

This is a contrast to a number of arrests at the airport during 2014 where visitors to Cayman were arrested, charged, processed through the courts and fined heavily for their errors and lapse of memory. On four occasions licensed firearms holders from the US have been fined between $1000 -$3000, have been held in custody and had to hire lawyers or extend their stay to face the consequences of their carelessness in the local courts.

A magistrate last summer told an American visitor in such a predicament that Cayman has a “harsh regime because we’ve decided we don’t want guns here.” Raising his concerns about casual approaches to lethal weapons, he added, “It boggles the mind that people have ammunition in backpacks and don’t even know it.”

Nevertheless, Burton seems to have so far been given a pass. After three months of investigation, aside from the suspension of his private firearms licence, there have been no other consequences for the serving police officer.

The latest revelation from the police comes in the wake of the shocking revelation that an RCIPS police officer had been recruited to the service while being under investigation for murder. After being on required leave for two years, he was recalled back to work by Police Commissioner David Baines around ten months before his trial in Jamaica, where he was convicted.

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Police report quiet Christmas weekend

| 29/12/2014 | 16 Comments

(CNS): With local criminals seemingly taking a break for the holidays, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service reported a very quiet Christmas weekend. Encouraged by the safe and peaceful festive season so far, the police urge the public, and drivers especially, to remain safe. With Operation Dasher, which started on 10 December, still in full swing, the police continue to make numerous arrests on the road and have issued hundreds of tickets to errant motorists. Twenty-one drivers have been arrested for being drunk behind the wheel and a dozen for driving without being qualified or while disqualified. The police said 270 tickets were given out, including 54 to people using their phone while driving and 33 for speeding. 

Police say they will continue to be vigilant and urge everyone to take care over the New Year, especially with regards to drinking and driving. People are advised to use a designated driver, who will not be drinking alcohol, or use a bus or call a taxi.

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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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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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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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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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