Archive for August 8th, 2011

Gun & bullets cashed in

Gun & bullets cashed in

| 08/08/2011 | 8 Comments

(CNS): As promised earlier this month the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has handed over several hundred dollars in cash in exchange for weapons following the submission of over 200 rounds of ammunition and a handgun during the first week of the second phase of the police gun amnesty. Last week Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden announced a partnership with High Impact Media that would see the local sign company sponsoring the “Cash for Guns” amnesty so that the cops could offer a reward of $200 for any working firearm and $25 for every ten rounds of live ammunition handed in to the police anonymously. With this week’s haul the total so far for this year’s amnesty is four guns and over 500 bullets.(Photo of ammo handed in during laet year's amnesty -Dennie Warren Jr)

Following the increase in robberies over the last year and a number of incidents where firearms were discharged and victims hit by the gunmen the RCIPS embarked on a gun amnesty in an effort to give people the opportunity to bring in illegal guns without any questions asked and hpefullly reduce the potential number of gun shot victims.

However, during July the response was very disappointing with around 300 bullets and just two long guns being handed in. Working in partnership with High Impact Media the cops decided on a new tact and introduced a financial incentive following on from amnesties in the past where cash rewards had proved effective.

“Cash for Guns” was launched for the whole of this month and anyone can until Wednesday 31 August claim the $200 for every working gun brought to a police station and $25 for every 10 rounds of completely anonymously.

DS Bodden who stated that it was good to see the amnesty picking up pace urged anyone who may not have taken the advantage of the amnesty yet to do so.  He reminded the public that the minimum sentence for anyone caught in possession and found guilty at trial of an unlicensed firearm is ten years imprisonment.

Offering his thanks to High Impact Media for the support the senior cop said these are the types of partnerships that build a positive relationship between a police service and its community.

Police also cnfirmed that a BB gun has also been handed into one of the participating stations.

Should you know of any crime taking place in your community please report it to any police station or call 800 TIPS (8477).


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Cops mum on latest clue

Cops mum on latest clue

| 08/08/2011 | 24 Comments

(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service remained deliberately tight-lipped Monday over something which turned up this weekend during the investigation into the disappearance of Kerran (Kerry-Ann) Baker. Senior police officers told the press at the noon briefing that on Sunday during a police and volunteer search officers discovered “material which is now being assessed” to see if it is connected with the missing woman. DS Marlon Bodden stated that police were deliberately limiting their comments on the finding in order to ensure they did not jeopardise what may eventually become a criminal investigation.

Police did not say that the discovery was definitely connected to Kerran nor did they give any details on what had been found or where and simply said it was something that was discovered by police officers on Sunday during one of the numerous searches of different locations.

“We need to protect the investigation,” Chief Superintendent John Jones said as he explained that while everyone continued to hope that Kerran would be found alive, they had to consider the possibility that this would become a criminal investigation, and as a result potential evidence had to be closely guarded.

Despite this mysterious discovery, police said they still had no real clue as to the whereabouts of Kerran, who has now been missing for eight days. They confirmed that they were still pursuing numerous diverse lines of enquiry, many of which were far from exhausted. The officers also said that many hours of CCTV tape was still being reviewed in the hope it could still reveal images of Kerran or her car somewhere after 7pm on Saturday 30 July, the last sighting of her at Foster’s Supermarket near the airport. 

Renewing their appeal again for help from the community, DS Bodden said some individuals had told police that they had information but were reluctant to reveal it because they were afraid. Bodden emphasised that they would fuel that fear if they kept what they knew to themselves when it may assist the investigation and lead the police to Kerran. Bodden noted that it was a significant concern that people would withhold information but there was no way for the police to compel people to talk.

“It is worrying to us that friends of Kerry-Ann express their concern about her disappearance but won’t tell us what they know,” the senior officer said as he pleaded again for people to come forward, if not to the police then someone else.

However, the officers paid tribute to the hundreds of volunteers that assisted with the searches at the weekend when areas as diverse as the Papagallos area of West Bay, the Esterly Tibbetts Highway, Shamrock Road and Admiralty Landing were all searched. Bodden said the diverse locations reflected the fact that the police still had no real or genuine clues or specific information that was pointing to any one single line of enquiry.

“It is like looking for a needle in a haystack,” CS Jones added as he explained that the police were searching each and every place where there was the slightest probability that Kerran may have been there. Jones also revealed that the sightings of Kerran’s car in Midway Close in Lower Valley had not yet been corroborated and there was no further evidence that she was ever at that location.

The police also stated that they were still waiting for the results of the forensic work on a substance which was found not far from where Kerran’s white Honda Civic was discovered on Monday 1 August at Pedro St James. Despite asking for the lab to prioritise the work, the two police officers said that the smears were very small and the scientific process to determine in the first instance if the swabs were blood, if so was this human blood and then whose blood it was, took time but they were hopeful of a result as soon as possible. “It is not always as easy as it first sounds,” Bodden said. “However, we are putting pressure on the lab.”

Anyone that has any information at all about Kerran (Kerry-Ann) Baker is asked to call the crime hotline 949 7777, Kerran’s father Wilmot Anthony 321 4271 or Crimestoppers 800 TIPS (8477).

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Cayman team seeks glory in squash championship

Cayman team seeks glory in squash championship

| 08/08/2011 | 3 Comments

(CNS): The 2011 edition of the Senior Caribbean Squash Championships commences on Monday, 8 August, with eleven teams set to take their chances for podium glory. The competition is to last three days for the individuals and then three days for the most patriotic stage of the tournament—the team event.  Cayman will be represented by 14 individuals for singles event. In the Men’s and Women’s divisions, Guyanese players Richard Chin and Nicolette Fernandes are predicted to take the gold whilst Cayman’s elite duo, Cameron Stafford (left) and Marlene West, are ranked third in the Men’s Division seeded fourth in the Women’s Division respectively.

In 2009, the Cayman Islands hosted the same event and managed to pull through with placing second overall. The team bagged 1st place in the Veterans division over Barbados, finished 2nd in the Women’s division behind Trinidad & Tobago in a nail-biting final and the men’s side managed to squeeze past Jamaica for the bronze.

Although Cayman is expected to come home with the gold this year on home turf, three key players are unavailable for this year’s championship. Mark Chaloner, a resident of the Cayman Islands and former World #7 on the Professional Men’s Circuit, was deemed ineligible to play this year. CASA (the executive board of Caribbean Squash) had discovered that Chaloner did not satisfy tournament regulations for participation due to the fact that he has not lived in the Cayman Islands for four consecutive years. Caroline Heal, Islands Games Gold Medallist, is off-island for the event and had other important obligations to complete; lastly Jackie Ridgeway, Silver Medallist at the Island Games is away in South Africa and could not take part as well due to other personal obligations. Although the Cayman side is lacking three key players, they are, nonetheless predicted to come home with Gold in the Men’s, Women’s and Vet’s side respectively.

The Cayman side is being led by national coach Glenn Stark—one of the most experienced and successful squash coaches the squash world has seen. With the Men’s and Women’s and Vet’s sides being spearheaded by Cameron Stafford and Marlene West and John Macrury, the chances for Gold are limitless. The Women’s side is equipped with an arsenal of experienced players: Marlene West is ranked #80 on the Women’s Professional Circuit; Alison Strobridge is a seasoned veteran; Chantelle Day is a former Caribbean U19 Junior Champion and a former Commonwealth Games’ team player; Samantha Hennings is a former Caribbean U17 Junior Champion and a valiant team player who usually pulls the upsets in the Team Events; and Eilidh Bridgeman is the team captain of the Junior Girls’ Team that brought home the Bronze Medal from Guyana in July. 



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Mac defends Dart deal

Mac defends Dart deal

| 08/08/2011 | 138 Comments

(CNS): The premier outlined what he said was the "critical importance" of government’s deal with the Dart group of companies at a packed meeting in West Bay last week. From land swaps to provide room for expansion of a West Bay private school to money to help pay mortgages, McKeeva Bush said the ForCayman alliance was a good deal for everyone in the country. He acknowledged that some people may not agree, whether for environmental or other reasons, but he said that government had to do something to get the country out of the current difficult economic situation. Bush said he did not believe in just talking about the problem but believed in “doing something”.

Listing the various elements of the complex deal between the developer and the government that involves crown land swaps, the relocation of the dump and the closure of a stretch of the West Bay Road, Bush also revealed that there would be money to pay people’s mortgages as many had reached the point beyond what they could manage.

Bush did not specify how the cash would be allocated but said around $2.5 million of a cash donation of around $18 million that Dart is making as part of the package will go towards mortgage arrears. He said many people were losing their homes as the banks were stepping in, albeit reluctantly, but he said they were taking people to court because they were so far behind with their mortgages and no hope of paying the arrears.

The Caymanian people were suffering, Bush told the West Bay audience of more than 150 people on Thursday evening, “far beyond what they can endure” and government has to find a way to “help people get back on track,” he added. The premier stated that he believed that the ForCayman alliance represented a partnership for recovery and said Dart had demonstrated its commitment to Cayman and this was a good deal for everyone.

He explained that it takes a long time to get projects on track and the people back to work but that he believed this partnership to revitalize Cayman’s economy was absolutely necessary. As he spoke about what the deal entails he stated that Dart had to get incentives in order to make the investment and start the infrastructure projects that would create jobs.

Bush explained that the full package was not yet a done deal as government and the developer were working out the finer details and he was trying to get more for the people before it was signed. He said he wished it was already agreed so that things could get moving, but the government had to make sure that the deal was fair to all concerned.

Although the deal includes medium to long term development, he said there would be immediate benefits to the country and its people as jobs were created. Bush said the ForCayman investment alliance would help not just a few but lots of people “to grow and prosper.”

One of the key elements of the deal includes a land swap with government in order to allow Dart to move 2000 feet of the West Bay Road in order to develop the former Courtyard Marriott site into a new four, or possible five, star resort which will become a beach front property. This crown land swap, it is believed, will triple the value of the land that Dart now owns in that area. In exchange, the developer will be giving government land in Barkers and in West Bay, which government appears to have earmarked for a private school – Grace Christian academy – to expand, and a donation of some $18 million in cash, which will be used to go towards the primary school redevelopment project and the new mortgage assistance programme. Dart will also purchase the land needed for the extension of the Esterly Tibbetts Highway into West Bay up to Batabano and pay for the cost of constructing the new road. 

A second major element of the deal is the swap of the current landfill, which Dart will cap and remediate addressing the leaching into the North Sound, a long standing problem. The former dump will eventually become a recreation area once it is safe after the remediation work has been completed. In exchange for that land, which is adjacent to Camana Bay, Dart has purchased land in Bodden Town on which it plans to create a new modern landfill site that will be managed and operated by government, which is expected to include recycling and composting.

Dart has also committed to building out more of its planned residential phases in Camana Bay, creating jobs and opportunities for local business as well as extending the existing public beach, creating another public beach north along the West Bay Road, more parks and other charitable donations.

For well over two hours representatives from Dart and government, including Education Minister Rolston Anglin and back bencher Cline Glidden, who is government’s key negotiator with Dart, talked to the crowd about the project and its various elements. Jackie Doak, CEO of Dart, outlined the company’s history in Cayman and its record of employing Caymanians and giving back to the community.

The presentation received a mixed response, with many people offering their support to the project. However, key queries included why so much of the West Bay Road needed to be moved when the hotel site could be turned into a beach front resort with the closure of a much shorter stretch, an answer which was lost in the melee of the evening’s crossfire and never answered, as well as queries about the donation of land to Grace Christian Academy.

Some members of the audience queried how a donation of land to a private school could assist everyone, given that most people would be unable to pay school fees, and asked why it could not be put towards the planned Beulah Smith High School. The minister said government didn’t have the money to either construct or run a new public school but indicated that by assisting a private school it would ease the pressure in West Bay. He did not say if government intended to pay the fees of local children to attend that school once it was built or if scholarships would be available.

The audience was also told that the deal with Dart would be legally binding and any subsequent government would have to honour the final agreement that the current administration intended to sign.

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