Archive for September 10th, 2012

People asked to nominate for local hero awards

| 10/09/2012 | 16 Comments

Nominate (272x300).jpg(CNS): Government is inviting the public to submit nominations for next year’s National Heroes Day for people involved in promoting the development of the community’s youngest members. The theme for the January 2013 celebration is ‘Youth Services’ and for the first time, residents will have an opportunity to nominate their hero to be recognised with a special award. With categories ranging from Early Pioneers to Long Service and Emerging Pioneers, the organising committee aims to recognise recipients who have made a significant contribution to the growth and delivery of youth services throughout the Cayman Islands.

The minister responsible for youth urged local residents to take advantage of the opportunity to express their appreciation for youth workers.

“The introduction of a nomination process is intended to encourage you to be part of this national celebration,” Mark Scotland told the country, Monday. “It also enlists your assistance in ensuring that the Ministry adequately captures those who deserve to be recognised for their continued contribution to our community…. Celebrating our heroes cannot be left to Government alone. It is the collective efforts of the people that boost national pride, which, in turn, elevates our country’s presence among our neighbours and the rest of the world.”

The nomination period runs from September 10, through October 10. Names may be put forward to nominate those individuals who cater to the development, growth and empowerment
of young people between the ages of 10 and 25.

As was the case last year government officials also revealed that the Heroes Day Awards will run alongside the Premier’s Awards, which will be launched by his office shortly and will have a separate nomination process.

Heroes Day is scheduled to be held on Monday, 28 January 2013. Copies of the nomination form for the Heroes Day Awards for Youth Services are available online at www.ministryofhealth.gov.ky and www.gov.ky.

For more information, or to submit your nominations, contact the NHD Committee for Youth Services at email nhd2013@gov.ky. 

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Portfolio takes full 45 days to comply with info boss

| 10/09/2012 | 15 Comments

file cabinet.JPG(CNS): The information commissioner expressed her disappointment on Monday that the Portfolio of the Civil Service and the Office of the Deputy Governor waited until the last minutes to hand over documents that she had ordered be released in connection with the recent recruitment of three senior civil servants. She confirmed that the public authority had finally complied with an order she made in her 21st decision handed down in July. Just ahead of Right to Know Week later this month, Jennifer Dilbert pointed out that the portfolio had waited the full 45 days to release the records.

The documents relateto an FOI request made by an applicant regarding the appointment of three chief officers made this January. During the hearing Dilbert upheld the decision of the portfolio to redact some information but overturned the decision to withhold the resumes and qualifications for the successful candidates. She also overturned the decision to redact some information contained in the unfinished unsigned panel report provided to the applicant and ordered the disclosure of an unredacted copy, as well as other relevant records that she had identified and ordered their disclosure.

The commissioner had also revealed that the portfolio and the deputy governor’s office were in contravention of the Freedom of Information Law with respect to the record keeping for the recruitment exercise for chief officers conducted in January 2012.

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Firearms charge dismissed

| 10/09/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Charges against a teenager from West Bay accused of possessing an unlicensed firearm after he was seen crouching in bushes near to where a handgun was found by police were dismissed by a judge on Monday. In the second case in two weeks relating to possession of firearms, the crown's case collapsed when the judge entered a not guilty verdict against Charles Ebanks part way through the trial. Justice Carol Beswick, who was sitting alone in the case without a jury, said the crown had not reached the necessary threshold against the defendant. Had a jury been hearing the case, properly directed it could not have reached a guilty verdict, she said.

However, the acting judge did say the crown had met the threshold in the case against Ebanks' co-defendant, Frederick Booth.

The dismissal of Ebanks' case comes after the crown’s case against Kurt Carter for possession of an unlicensed firearm collapsed on Monday 27 August when the prosecution offered no evidence since the key witness had withdrawn.

The crown's case against Ebanks was, from the outset, circumstantial. The 19-year-old was arrested outside the LI nightclub by police responding to a 911 call in the early hours of 26 March last year. The officers on the scene say they saw Ebanks crouching near some bushes and a few minutes later, during a search of the area, discovered a .44 Ruger revolver a few feet away.

No one saw Ebanks with the weapon, however, nor was his DNA found on the gun. The crown brought the case against Ebanks based on what they said was his suspicious behaviour at the time– he was described as “sweaty and nervous” — and his interview, in which, the police said, the teenager gave a false explanation about what he was doing in the bushes.

During her judgment regarding the crown's case against Ebanks, Justice Beswick said that in her view the prosecution's case did not pass the threshold that would have enabled a jury to reasonably convict. While she said that Ebanks' behaviour may have been suspicious, taken at its highest a jury could not have reasonably found him guilty of possession of an unlicensed firearm.

The judge did, however, say that it was possible, on one view of the evidence, that a jury could against his co-defendant who was in the car park that night and whose DNA profile was later found on the weapon. As a result she said Booth did have a case to answer.

Booth, who was present in the nightclub car park on the night his co-defendant, Ebanks, was arrested and who had gone to the club with him, was approached by police because he fitted a description relating to a report that had been received by the 911 emergency call centre. He was searched and questioned by officers but nothing incriminating was found that night.

Booth was later arrested, however, when forensic tests revealed mixed DNA profiles which included that of Booth among others. Despite the low statistics, Booth was charged later based on the traces of DNA and his proximity to the weapon, which the crown said was around 20 feet when he was spotted by police.

Speaking on behalf of his client, defence attorney John Furnis told the court that Booth was facing trial simply because he was in the car park that night, despite the fact that the major DNA profile on the weapon belonged to another suspect, who police could not say was present or not on the night in question.

He pointed to the low statistical evidence in the mixed profile relating to his client – at best 1 in 1000 — and said while it may have been possible that his client came into contact with the gun at some point in time, there was no evidence at all it was the night when the gun was found. He said there was noevidence that his client had care, control or possession of the gun.

Following the final submissions by the attorneys, Justice Beswick said she would retire to consider the case against Booth and would return her verdict on Thursday afternoon.

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Cuban authorities report no new cases of cholera

| 10/09/2012 | 0 Comments

Cuba_Cholera_Cases_Reach_85_and_May_Rise.jpg(CNS):  Officials in Cayman said Monday that there have been no new cases of cholera confirmed on the neighbouring island of Cuba for more than three weeks.  Medical Officer of Health Dr Kiran Kumar said that as at 28 August, the Cuban authorities had reported a total of 417 confirmed cholera cases three people had died in Manzanillo province of Granma. Despite the good news that no further cases have been reported the senior public health officials urged anyone travelling to Cuba, Haiti or the Domincan republic who become ill to report their travel history to their doctor.

“A few isolated cases with travel history to Manzanillo were recorded in Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo, and La Havana,” Dr Kumar said Monday. “Most cases occurred in adults and all were infected with V. Cholera toxigenic, serogroup 01, serotype Ogawa, biotype El Tor. As of 30 August, no new cholera cases have been confirmed in the country since more than 15 days ago. Nevertheless, the Cuban authorities continue implementing prevention actions and conducting surveillance activities to detect and rapidly contain new outbreaks if they occur.

“While it is good to note that there are no more confirmed cases of Cholera in Cuba the past 15 days, travellers to Cuba are still advised to contact their doctor immediately should they develop watery diarrhoea and vomiting within five days of leaving Cuba. It is also important to state their travel history to their doctor. This advisory is applicable to travellers to Haiti and Dominican Republic including other countries in the region affected by Cholera,” he added.

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Off-duty police officer dies on recreational dive

| 10/09/2012 | 14 Comments

Chris Devereux.jpg(CNS): Update with statement from the commissioner Tuesday 1:03pm —  The RCIPS has now named the off-duty officer who died yesterday while diving off Sunset House. He was Chris Devereux (54) from Liverpool in the UK, who joined the RCIPS last May. Just after 3.00pm on Monday Devereux, who had been shore diving with a colleague in the vicinity of the Mermaid, got into difficulty and lost consciousness. His colleague brought him to the surface, and staff from Sunset House immediately assisted, brought him to shore and performed CPR. When the ambulance crew arrived they continued CPR while conveying Devereux to the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town. However, despite the efforts of dive staff and the paramedics, he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Commissioner David Baines said in a release Tuesday afternoon, "Although Chris had only been with the RCIPS for a matter of months he had quickly become an integral part of the Drugs and Serious Crime Task Force. He was both well-liked and respected by colleagues. He will be remembered as a hard-working and committed officer who played a significant role in some of our most recent investigations. He will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with his family and friends back in the United Kingdom."

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Death by careless driving added to road offences

| 10/09/2012 | 12 Comments

_DEW2454-250w-main(2).jpg(CNS): After the new traffic law comes into effect in ten day’s time on 21 September, causing death by ‘careless’ driving has been added to the list of offences, which could see drivers jailed for killing other road users or pedestrians in a much wider range of circumstances than the previous law allowed. Section 79 introduces the offence of causing death by careless driving or inconsiderate driving, which will be an arrestable offence, meaning that the driver can be arrested without warrant. The law carries a term of imprisonment for up to seven years and a fine of $10,000 as well as disqualification from driving. The law also increases a number of fines for various road traffic offences, as requested by the RCIPS.

Director of Driver and Vehicle Licensing David Dixon explained how the new offence differed from the existing charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

“Dangerous driving refers to a driver that caused a road death due to high speed and the manner of road driving without taking into consideration the conditions on the road and traffic, “ he said. “Death by careless driving or inconsiderate driving may happen in a low speed situation, for example when using a cell phone.”

He noted that inconsiderate driving has also been added to the careless driving, which could include when someone drives with their hazard lights on without having an emergency, or driving in a puddle and splashing a pedestrian, or with their headlights on bright. “These changes were recommendations made by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service to address this anomaly in the current Traffic Law,” he noted.

A number of fines have also been increased, such as failing to comply with a stop signal, which was $20 and is now$100. Parking 45 feet from a pedestrian crossing attracted a fine of $25, which has risen to $100.  The fine for failing to comply with a police signal in cases where they are directing traffic, or failing to give way to a police or another emergency vehicle, such as an ambulance, was $20. That has gone up to $200.

Able bodied drivers who park in a disabled parking space can now expect to receive a ticket and pay a fine of $100. The other new fine is for the improper use of a cell phone while operating a vehicle, which attracts a fine of $150.

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Concerns mount over dolphin

| 10/09/2012 | 46 Comments

dolphin.JPG(CNS): The continued presence of an increasingly aggressive lone male bottlenose dolphin in the North Sound is posing something of a problem for Cayman’s Department of Environment and officials say they have now contacted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s marine expert to see if they can helpcome up with a strategy. The dolphin recently pinned a local diver to the sea bed and the aquatic mammal’s antics have caught the attention of the international media after footage of thedolphins sexually aggressive behaviour was posted on YouTube. Stinky, as the young dolphin has been nick-named, poses a considerable danger and the DoE is urging people to stay away from him.

"Reports to the Department of Environment suggest that the dolphin is becoming increasingly persistent in seeking out interaction with swimmers and divers,” DoE Director of the DoE, Gina Petrie-Ebanks said. “Continued human interaction, especially feeding, will worsen this problem and discourage the dolphin from reintegrating with the wild dolphins that occasionally pass through our waters. The DoE has now established contact with NOAA and will be liaising with their marine mammal experts early next week with a view to developing a strategy for dealing appropriately with this animal.”

In the meantime, the doE director asked that anyone who encounters the dolphin to report their observation to the department by emailing DoE@gov.ky or calling 949-8469.

“As the dolphin could inadvertently injure a swimmer or diver during an interaction, the DoE is continuing to advise the public to avoid entering the water to swim with the animal. Anyone who is approached by the dolphin while diving, snorkelling, or swimming should leave the water as soon as possible," Petrie-Ebanks added. 

The video shows exactly how sexually aggressive and persistent the dolphin, which has been hanging around the North Sound throughout the summer, can be.

"Observing a wild dolphin is a rare privilege in the Cayman Islands,” said DoE Research Officer Janice Blumenthal, but she warned that lone wild dolphins can be unpredictable and dangerous.

"People who have approached the dolphin have reported 'jaw-clapping', which is the dolphin rapidly snapping its mouth open and shut. Dolphins use behaviours such as jaw-clapping to communicate dominance among members of the pod. In interactions with swimmers, this can convey agitation and aggression and is a clear warning sign," she added.

The reasons why some dolphins become solitary are not well known. While some lone dolphins have become famous for their friendly behaviour, international marine mammal experts have many concerns for the safety of lone dolphins and people when interactions occur. The dolphins sometimes display aggressive and sexual behaviours directed toward swimmers who approach or harass them, leading to serious injuries and even death. In addition, veterinary experts are concerned about the potential for transfer of diseases from dolphins to humans and vice versa.

In Grand Cayman, reports have been received for several years of a solitary dolphin resident in the North Sound. It is not known whether the animal currently being seen is the same long-term resident dolphin. However, given its smaller size when first sighted, DOE believes it might be a young animal which was separated from its pod.

See YouTube video here.

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Robber admits guilt over gas station heist

| 10/09/2012 | 0 Comments

texaco.JPG(CNS): A 31-year-old man pleaded guilty on Friday to a robbery at a George Town gas station and possession of an imitation firearm with intent. Travis Ebanks admitted that he was the robber who held up the Texaco gas station at around 10pm on Thursday 31 May armed with an imitation hand gun and stole $239 after threatening the female cashier with the weapon before making his escape with the money on foot. Ebanks was arrested and charged shortly after the event and taken into custody. Justice Beswick remanded Ebanks to HMP Northward until 19 October when his sentencing case will come before the courts.

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Trial in pawn shop robbery delayed

| 10/09/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A man accused of robbing a Bodden Town pawn shop who is currently on remand had his trial cancelled on Friday which was due to start on 17 September as a result of his attorney no longer being able to represent him because of an undisclosed conflict. Despite the massive backlog of trials currently in the Grand Court the case had to be deferred to give Aaron McLaughlin (20) an opportunity to find another lawyer and brief him regarding the case. Given the impending date the acting judge said it was unrealistic to expect a new attorney to be ready in just over one week and vacated the trial date. McLaughlin has denied being the man who held up the Cashwiz store on 31 May.

The crown claims that McLaughlin threatened staff at the store with an imitation weapon and stole $61 and a gold ring. McLaughlin is also accused of assaulting a police officer during his arrest a short distance from where the daylight robbery had occurred.

Justice Beswick remanded McLaughlin in custody to HMP Northward until 21 September when he will return to court to deal with his representation and a new date.

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Accused fraudster missing

| 10/09/2012 | 0 Comments

courts good_0.jpg(CNS): A 53-year-old man who is due to stand trial later this month for fraud and theft failed to answer his bail on Friday morning in the Grand Court. Arthur Screaton was scheduled to appear in order to elect whether he wanted to be tried by a judge or a jury in the case against him, in which he is accused of stealing money from a George Town bar and restaurant. However, his attorney, John Furniss, told the court that his client did not appear to be present and noted that some time ago his bail conditions had been varied to allow him to travel. Crown counsel asked acting Justice Beswick for a warrant for Screaton owing to the non-appearance but asked not to vacate the trial date just in case.

Prosecutor Michael Snape asked for the case to mentioned next week in case Screaton was discovered or turned up of his own accord. With the case narrowed down to just one witness, he said the trial could still go ahead, and given the backlog of cases, Snape believed it was better to press on and be prepared to deal with the case.

Screaton, who was formerly employed by at Rackham’s pub and restaurant, is charged with two counts of theft and two of false accounting. The crown alleges that during 2010, while working at the harbour front restaurant, he falsified accounts by stating that in two particular months the bar's takings were less than they really were.

On the first occasion he accounted for $34,000 instead of the true amount of CI$39,000, and on the second CI$46,000 rather than actual takings of CI$53,000, and pocketed the difference. The crown claims that between 1 October and 31 December 2010, Screaton stole more than CI$10,000 from the business.

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