Archive for February 3rd, 2010

Cops say chopper still coming

Cops say chopper still coming

| 03/02/2010 | 34 Comments

(CNS): It probably came as no surprise that the RCIPS helicopter did not arrive in Cayman last month as expected, given the controversy that has surrounded the acquisition of the machine since it was first mooted in 2007. Police said today, not for the first time, that the helicopter is due to arrive here in a few weeks. However, the newly appointed RCIPS Air Operations Manager, Steve Fitzgerald, confirmed that the machine had undergone operational acceptance testing in Louisiana last week.

The delay, police said, was due this time to the devastation in Haiti and the subsequent restrictions placed on Haitian air space, which led the RCIPS to review its flight plans and delivery schedule.

“The route has given us a few challenges with fuel availability and the necessary priorities surrounding Haiti that we could not have envisaged,” said Fitzgerald. “However, in gaining the necessary permissions with the assistance of the chief immigration officer, I am sure we are able to resolve this and I can confidently say that the helicopter will be with us in two or three weeks. All the project team (is) working hard to achieve this timescale”

In an official RCIPS release, police said that the RCIPS Air Operations Unit is making plans for the arrival of the aircraft and, as soon as it lands, training for the staff who will operate it will commence.

The unit is based at the RCIPS Air Operations offices at the Owen Roberts International Airport and Commissioner of Police David Baines has applied for the necessary Police Air Operations Certificate from the Civil Aviation Authority. “Having a dedicated air resource which can assist with searches, operations and tracking offenders will make a huge difference to the operational capacity of the RCIPS to protect our borders,” Baines stated.

The EC135 is fitted with FLIR (forward looking infra red) cameras and broadcast quality daylight cameras, all with recording facility for evidence. Police officials said that Fitzgerald, a former police inspector who managed a UK air support unit, is well acquainted with the equipment. “I am sure that the benefits of this technology will soon become evident, but we do need to complete the training first to ensure the crew is fully able to realise those benefits” he said.

The helicopter has been fitted with aviation police radios for use into the Cayman Islands public radio system, and carries a ‘Nightsun’ light capable of lighting up the area of a football field. The ‘Skyshout’ public address system is capable of alerting the public on the ground, whether it be to lookout for a missing person, an offender, or passing other information in a critical incident.

The helicopter is also fitted with a video downlink system, allowing the camera images to be relayed to other officers or commanders, giving the benefit of real time images to those on the ground.

Police did not say, however, if the chopper has been retro fitted with the necessary equipment, such as the pop-up floats and winch, in order to allow it to fly to the Sister Islands and act as a rescue vessel as well as a police operations unit.

The controversy surrounding the machine started when the previous administration announced they had been misled about the capabilities of the machine the RCIPS eventually bought by the former commissioner, Stuart Kernohan.  At the time Kernohan was on required leave as a result of the Operation Tempura incident, but he issued a number of statements suggesting the Cabinet was never misled but had simply not understood what could be purchased for the money which they budgeted.

The helicopter cost around $1.3 million and was acquired from a UK police service. Following the controversy, Auditor General Dan Duguay conducted a value for money report and observed that the goals of the elected government and the police when if came to what the machine would do had been at odds and miscommunication had resulted in a machine that was suitable for police operations but not for anything else.

Since then a decision was made to examine what could be done to adapt the existing machine to meet the wider expectations and then bring the machine to Cayman.

No information has been given about what if any changes have been made.

Police confirmed that the provision of maintenance and piloting for the long term use of the helicopter has still not been resolved and negotiations are continuing. “However, the RCIPS has made interim arrangements to ensure that this much needed operational resource is not delayed any further on commercial grounds, and the public can expect to see the aircraft in the air soon,” the police said. CTC has reportedly received three bids from firms wanting to take on the piloting services for the next two years.

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Mourant and Ozannes to merge

Mourant and Ozannes to merge

| 03/02/2010 | 2 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman business news, Mourant du Feu & Jeune and Ozannes merger(CNS): Mourant du Feu & Jeune and Ozannes, two of the leading offshore law firms, have announced their intention to merge. The merged firm, to be known as Mourant Ozannes, will be one of the world’s largest offshore law firms with more than 200 fee-earners and 50 partners practising from offices in the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Jersey and London. Neal Lomax (left), who currently heads Mourant’s Cayman office, will be the merged firm’s managing partner in Cayman. A spokesperson for Mourant said there is a total of 35 staff in the Cayman office, including 5 partners and 14 fee earners, and the number of staff in Cayman will not be affected by this merger.

The merger will create a firm with “unrivalled strength-in-depth and industry knowledge”, according to a release from Mourant, and includes Mourant du Feu & Jeune’s Cayman Islands practice, which was recently ranked the number one law firm in the Cayman Islands for hedge fund legal services in a survey of onshore lawyers by HFM Week, a leading industry journal.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, will be structured as a full economic merger of the existing businesses, effective 1 May 2010.

The new partnership will be run by a management committee comprising representatives of both firms. Jonathan Rigby of Mourant du Feu & Jeune will be appointed as group managing partner. Peter Ferbrache of Ozannes will become senior partner and Ian James of Mourant will become chairman. Jonathan Rigby, managing partner of Mourant du Feu & Jeune, said, "We have always had enormous respect for Ozannes and we regard them as the leading law firm in Guernsey. The opportunity to combine premier practices in Cayman, Guernsey and Jersey was too good to miss. We are very excited by this development and are looking forward to working together on our shared vision, to be consistently recognised as the leading law firm offshore."

Robert Shepherd, managing partner of Ozannes, who will become managing partner of Mourant Ozannes’ Guernsey office, said:

"This is an exciting development for both firms, which will enable us to build on the heritage of two very successful offshore law firms. There are many synergies between the firms in terms of focus, structure, culture and talented people, and by combining our market leading offering we endeavour to become the most sought after offshore law firm for clients and staff."

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Dr Proctor goes to jail in Jamaica

Dr Proctor goes to jail in Jamaica

| 03/02/2010 | 7 Comments

Cayman Islands News, World News, Dr George Proctor(CNS): Renowned botanist George Proctor, the author of Flora of the Cayman Islands, was given a four-year prison sentence on Tuesday, 2 February, for conspiring to kill his 69-year-old wife and three other women who lived in the couple’s home in Jamaica. During the trial, the court was told that Proctor wanted his wife dead because she was allegedly unfaithful to him, among other things. Judge Gloria Smith sentenced the ailing 89-year-old US-born botanist after he and his chauffeur, 46-year-old Glenmore Fillington, were convicted last week for conspiring to kill the women.

Prosecutors said Proctor gave his co-conspirator $90,000 to kill the women in April 2006, but Jamaican police arrested him at the capital’s airport as he was about to board a plane to the United States. Proctor’s wife of 30 years and the three women, whose identities and relationship to the couple have never been released by authorities, were not harmed.

According to the Jamaica Observer, Fellington was sentenced to six years behind bars for his part in the plot. During the hour-long sentence hearing in the Home Circuit Court, Proctor, a former University of the West Indies lecturer, hung his head throughout the proceedings and even shed tears intermittently, as his colleagues from the university and former co-workers at the Institute of Jamaica looked on, the Observer said. Fellington threw himself to the floor and wept, "Oh, God!" causing a female relative to cry loudly in court.

Proctor and Fellington were convicted of four counts of conspiracy to murder on January 27. Both men were placed on trial, stemming from allegations that they had hired a man to commit the murders. The plot was hatched over diverse dates between 1 February 2006 and 20 April 2006 and the hits were to be done for $100,000 and while Proctor was off the island. However, the ‘hitman’ reported the matter to the police and testified against the men.

Proctor’s lawyer, Tom Tavares-Finson, has given verbal notice of appeal.

For a full report, go to the Jamaica Observer.

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Seagate relocating from Cayman to Ireland

Seagate relocating from Cayman to Ireland

| 03/02/2010 | 23 Comments

( Seagate Technology’s Board of Directors hopes to move the company’s legal headquarters from the Cayman Islands to Dublin, Ireland, a tax savings-related measure that is expected to have little impact on the company’s long-standing Scotts Valley corporate presence. In a 219-page proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday, Seagate directors cited increasing negative publicity surrounding US companies that don’t pay US taxes by incorporating in countries like the Caymans. New legislation could increase Seagate’s tax burden if it remains a Cayman company.

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Premier questions why top civil servants not working

Premier questions why top civil servants not working

| 03/02/2010 | 62 Comments

(CNS): Despite the fact that the removal of three senior civil servants from office is seen by many as an unofficial political move, Premier McKeeva Bush has said he is surprised that the former Education Ministry’s chief officer, Angela Martins (left), former Health Ministry chief officer Diane Montoya and ex-deputy financial secretary Deborah Drummond are not at work somewhere but are being paid. The three high grade public servants have been moved from their posts and are still receiving salaries although they have not been given new roles.

Speaking to News 27, Bush said while it wasn’t his decision it was his problem because of the salaries they were being paid and he was responsible for the budget. Owning to their pay grade, it is estimated that the three women would be earning between $127,000 and $147,000 per year. These three salaries also add to the salaries still being drawn by Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon, who despite being cleared of all charges against him brought by Operation Tempura has not been given his job back but is still being paid. Dixon was place on required leave on full pay in March 2008 and is still receiving a full salary, while another acting deputy commissioner has been place in Dixon’s job by Commissioner David Baines.

Justice Priya Levers, who is fighting a legal case following a tribunal heard against her earlier last year, also continues to receive her full judicial pay while she awaits the outcome of her case, which is due to be heard by the Privy Council in the UK sometime this year.   

While these two top public servants are involved in disputes, the three women were released from their jobs last year following the May general election without explanation. But Bush said he was surprised they’re still being paid.

“I am asking, why are they not working somewhere?” Bush told the news programme. “Well, it is really not my problem except the budget is my concern and when money should be and should not be paid.”

The pay comes out of government’s wallet, but it is Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks who is directly responsible for civil servants.

Watch video on News27

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Arden says no to refinery

Arden says no to refinery

| 03/02/2010 | 85 Comments

Cayman Islands news, Grand Cayman headline news, Cayman tourism and environment(CNS): The Member of the Legislative Assembly for East End has told CNS that, despite the premier’s calls, he will vehemently oppose any moves to build an oil refinery in his district. Following a further announcement recently by McKeeva Bush to develop a commercial port and an oil refinery in the eastern districts, Arden McLean said it would not happen. “This is some pipe dream that he has come up with,” said McLean, who added that seeking to build a refinery in the pristine district was just crazy from both an environmental and economic stand point.

Aside from that fact that his district is one of the most beautiful and untouched areas of the island and that such a venture would be disastrous for the environment and ultimately tourism, the former Cabinet minster also said the idea was just not commercially viable and, as a marine engineer, he said it was something he felt confident talking about, unlike Bush.

“This kind of industry doesn’t exactly mix with tourism,” McLean observed.”It would destroy the environment whereever you put it. How are we going to create a port to accommodate the 60,000 ton tankers? What will we do with the sludge? It doesn’t even make sense to talk about it. Look how these industries have destroyed the environment in other countries in the region. He is just talking rubbish.”

The opposition PPM member said that whatever jobs could be created would not make up for the sort of negative impact such a venture could have on the district. “People are putting these stupid ideas in his head but he is not coming to East End with it,” the MLA stated emphatically. “If he wants it let him put it in West Bay.”

Mclean warned that whatever foolish ideas Bush came up with for his district, he would defend it. Although the East End representative, who achieved one of the highest percentages of the vote in the last election, said he did not have any authority in the country, the people of East End had a little piece of real estate in George Town — in the Legislative Assembly — and as long as he held that seat he would be a thorn in anyone’s side who tried to destroy his district.

Despite his opposition to some of the ideas that are being floated and the setback of being in opposition, McLean said the good thing to come out of the current circumstances was that at least now the people of Cayman could compare what was happening with this new government with the previous administration in which he served. “No matter how bad people might say we were, we were never this bad and people can see who had the best interests of the country.”

He also objected to the move towards selling public assets in general and accused Bush of putting the Cayman Islands on the auction block and sticking a ‘for sale’ sign on the country.  Certain things such as the Water Authority had to be publicly owned, Mclean emphasized. He also said people had not noticed that, while the increase in duty was supposed to have been offset a little by the removal of garbage fees, government’s intention to sell off the country’s waste management services would result in an increase to every home owner on the island.

His neighbour, MLA Ezzard Miller in North Side, whose constituents could also be affected by any moves to create a commercial port or refinery in East End, depending on the location, said that he was nottoo worried as he just wasn’t taking the proposal seriously. “If I thought there was anything to it I would certainly be opposing this, but its not going to happen. There is simply no market for this and so no one would invest in it,” said the independent representative, adding that such ideas were not in keeping with the nature of the Cayman Islands and he was confident it was not the direction people want the country to go.  “I am not taking him seriously,” Miller said.

The premier has noted on a number of occasions his desire to create a commercial cargo port in the eastern districts and an oil refinery. He raised the idea again in an interview with the Gulf based newspaper, The National, on his recent visit to the Middle East in December. Explaining the goal to find more inward investment he explained that Cayman was open for business. “We are open for hotel development, condos in particular, a conference centre and golf facilities. We are also looking for an oil refinery to be based in the country,” he said.

He then mentioned the project again at the Cayman Business Outlook last month when he said that although the idea of building an airport out in the Eastern districts had been shown not to be commercially viable, he was still keen to look at developing a commercial cargo port in the district which included an oil refinery. Bush told the audience of business and private sector members that modern refineries were very different and not about smoking chimneys and environmental damage.

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Henry said Ricketts was killer

Henry said Ricketts was killer

| 03/02/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Kirkland Henry, who has pleaded guilty to abducting, raping and robbing Estella Scott-Roberts but not guilty to her murder, told the police that, although he was there on the night she was killed, it was his co-defendant, Larry Prinston Ricketts (left), that committed the crime. Taking the stand on the second day of the trial of the two men, Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden, one of several senior detectives who worked on the case, told the court how Henry made his confession in the back of a police car. DS Bodden revealed that Henry blamed Ricketts for the murder and setting light to the deceased’s car to cover up the crime.

DS Bodden explained how some days after Henry’s arrest he had received a call from another RCIPS officer saying that Henry, who was at that time in the police cells, needed to speak with him. However, Bodden said he was busy on another job and he did not go to see him right away. Bodden told the court that later on that day he was called again by another police officer saying Henry wanted to talk to him and to show him where the other guy (Larry Ricketts), who was along with him that night, lived.

Henry had been arrested after the police had traced him through a phone which had belonged to Estella Scott-Roberts that he had been using and had in his possession when Bodden picked him up. On hearing what Henry had said, Bodden recalled how he had then immediately arranged to meet the officer in the car park with Henry. As they all got in the car, Henry began speaking, the senior officer said. Bodden explained that, at that point, he had reminded Henry he was still under caution and that anything he said would be written down, but he said Henry continued to talk.

Having taken down what the suspect was saying in his own police notebook at the time in October 2008, Bodden began reading those notes to the court as Cheryll Richards QC took the senior officer through his evidence.

Bodden told the court how Henry had said he was sorry that he had lied about the laptop. “It was not me alone,” Henry told DS Bodden as he sat in the police car. “It wasn’t my idea to get rid of the lady, me tell him, me say that not right.” Henry went on to tell Bodden that Ricketts had told him that if he did not get rid of her the police would find him. He said the plan to rob and abduct Estella Scott-Roberts was mostly Ricketts’ idea, and when they had put her in her car at Deckers they had gone to Barkers, where both men had sex with her.

The senior officer said Henry continued to talk as he sat in the police vehicle and said that Ricketts had wrapped something around the lady and put something over her head until he killed her and then set fire to the car. Henry said he set paper around the car and then started the fire with paper and used a lighter that he always had as he smoked weed. “He killed the lady,” Bodden said Henry had told him.

The court heard how Henry had told the police that Ricketts was the driving force behind the crime, and after he had killed Scott-Roberts and set the car alight, he said they would both wait for the bus in the morning to get back to town to use the bank debit card they had stolen. Henry told Bodden that Rickets had planned the crime and told him what to do.

Bodden said that after Henry had told him his version of the events on that night (10 October) he read the notes back to him. Henry said he did not read well but still looked it over before he signed the police officer’s notebook. Bodden said Henry then directed the police to Bayshore Mall where he pointed out one of the ATMs that he said Ricketts had attempted to use with the stolen card on the morning following the murder. After that, he took the police to Ricketts’ residence on Walkers Road but he was not there, so the officers and Henry continued to drive around various places in George Town looking for him.

At this point Bodden’s testimony was stopped to allow for a voir dire at the request of Ricketts’ defence attorney, Robert Fortune QC. A specialist legal hearing where lawyers get the opportunity to question a witness without the presence of a jury, a voir dire cannot be reported on publicly. Despite the fact that in this trial Ricketts and Henry both elected to be tried by judge alone and there is no jury presence, the law prevents details being revealed until after a determination has been made.  

During a long day oftestimony before hearing Bodden’s account of Henry’s version of events of that night, the court also heard from a number of expert witnesses. The first was a DNA expert, who confirmed that Henry’s DNA as well as that of Scott-Roberts was found on a condom at the scene where the rape took place and that her blood was present on Henry’s jeans. However, he did not reveal any DNA evidence linking Ricketts to the scene or Scott-Roberts.

A fire expert confirmed the car in which Scott-Roberts’ body was found was set deliberately with the use of an accelerant, and a video analysis expert helped the prosecution match clothes found at Ricketts’ home to those being worn by a man who the crown says is Ricketts, caught on CCTV at Cayman National Bank using Scott-Roberts stolen card.

Ricketts’ employer was also called to the stand, as well as a close friend and neighbour of Henry’s who confirmed he had seen him in Jamaica with a new BlackBerry phone.

The witness statements of Henry’s employer, George Miller, were then read to the court, revealing how a call by Henry to him on Scott-Roberts’ phone had led the police to Henry and his ultimate arrest.

Detective Kim Evans, who was involved in tracing the signal on the deceased’s phone via that witness to Henry, took the stand before DS Bodden and told the court he was also involved in tracking down Ricketts on the day Henry had revealed his identity to other police officers. He confirmed he was present when Marlon Bodden arrested him by George Town police station, though he said he did not hear the full details of that arrest.

Evans told Ricketts’ defence attorney that this was because he was using his phone and he did not hear anything and denied that he was just saying that to avoid any possible embarrassment over the details and procedures of that arrest.

The trial continues at 10am tomorrow morning with further testimony from DS Bodden.

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Police appeal for witnesses in latest killing

Police appeal for witnesses in latest killing

| 03/02/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following the opening of an investigation into what police believe was a premeditated murder last Thursday night, officers have renewed their appeal for anyone who was in the area of Sparky Drive on the night in question who saw anything suspicious or vehicles leaving the scene to come forward.  Police said 32-year-old Courtney Spence was shot at 11:10pm on 28 January as he left work at Progressive Distributors. The officer leading the enquiry, Detective Inspector Lauriston Burton, said that police are continuing with interviews but would like anyone who has not yet spoken with them to call.

“We are continuing to interview friends, family and workmates of Mr Spence to find out as much as we can about his background to try and establish a motive for the killing,” said DI Burton. “It appears that the gunman may have been lying in wait for his victim to leave the building. Therefore, I would appeal for anyone who was in the area of Sparky Drive late on Thursday night who saw anyone acting suspiciously, or any vehicles leaving the scene, to come forward.

“We have had a good response from the public so far, however there may still be people who have information who have not yet contacted the enquiry team.”

Anyone with information can call the murder incident room on 949-4222 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS). Police also noted that a post mortem examination is due to take place tomorrow, Wednesday 3 February, 2010.

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