Archive for September 13th, 2012

2nd acquittal in gun case

| 13/09/2012 | 20 Comments

(CNS): A man accused of possession of an unlicensed firearm after traces of DNA which could have included him were found on a handgun recovered from outside a nightclub has been acquitted. Frederick Booth was found not guilty by Justice Carol Beswick on Thursday after a judge alone trial that concluded this week. The judge said that in this case she could not be sure that the defendant had custody or control of the weapon at the time of the gun’s discovery as there was insufficient evidence. Earlier in the week the judge dismissed the crown’s case against Booth’s co-defendant in connection with the same weapon.

In handing down her verdict, the acting judge said she was “acutely aware” of the concerns in the community regarding the number of firearms in the hands of a few individuals who were “brazenly engaged in anti-social behaviour” and that the court had to serve as both a deterrent and a way of sending a message that this criminal behaviour would not be tolerated and such crimes carried consequences. But, justice Beswick said, the court could not succumb to the temptation of making decisions based on suspicions.

The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that an offender was guilty.
She said there was no direct evidence that the defendant was in possession of the gun on the night the weapon was discovered,

Booth had been charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm and was facing the possibility of a mandatory ten year jail sentence had the young man been found guilty. However, the only evidence against him was a mixed profile which the prosecution claimed included Booth’s DNA found on four places on the weapon and the fact that Booth was nearby when the .44 Ruger revolverwas discovered in bushes near the LI nightclub car park in March 2010 by USG officers.

There was another DNA profile on the weapon that had a far greater match probability. That more significant profile belongs to another individual known to the police but because that man was not around when the officers recovered the handgun he was never charged in connection with the weapon.

Related article:

Firearms charge dismissed

 

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$100k fine for abusing info

| 13/09/2012 | 16 Comments

images_37.jpg(CNS): Companies, government and even charities could face a hefty fine if they misuse information once the proposed Data Protection Law is implemented. The need for such legislation in Cayman has grown recently with the arrival of CCTV cameras and the soon to be implemented Bill of Rights. Presently, there are no controls over how personal information is used and the new law will ensure that no individual or entity can misuse sensitive data, according Deputy Information Commissioner Jan Liebaers. While the country does not yet have protective legislation, fortunately there is little evidence of any major misuse to date, he said. However, in future those that do breech the law could pay as much as $100,000 in fines.

Once the law is enacted, it will be monitored and enforced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which will be striking the balance between transparency and protection.

The Data Protection Law is not just limited to government, however, as it extends to the private sector and all organisations, including churches. The people who control data will need to manage that information properly and take responsibility for the informaiton they hold. While entities will still be able to store and retain information for legitimate purposes, the law will focus on protecting people from the abuse and illegitimate use of information.

Jan Liebaers told CNS that the ICO will be embarking on a widespread awareness and education campaign well before the law is passed and, once it is passed, the implementation would likely be staggered over at least 12 months to enable everyone to comply.

Although the law will impact a wide cross-section of the community, many organisations will find that they are already compliant. Liebaers explained that the implementation of the Bill of Rights in November enshrines the right to a private life, which means that there must be legislation to uphold that right and consequences if privacy of personal and sensitive information is breeched.

There are exemptions about the use of data by law enforcement officials and even for legitimate purposes by journalists as the emphasis is on the proper management of information held by controllers that is considered sensitive and using it appropriately.

While the ICO will have powers to investigate complaints and enforce the law, Liebaers said that the introduction of the law was not all about enforcement but about ensuring that information is held properly and the individual's right to privacy is protected.

With budgets tight in government, Liebaers admitted that in order for the ICO to manage both freedom of information and data protection properly, the office will need to be properly resourced to ensure one or the other does not suffer. He estimated that once the law is enforced it would require around three new staff members.

The law is currently going through a consultation process and Liebaers, who was part of the work group that drew up the parameters of law, encouraged everyone to read and consider the draft legislation and submit their comments to ensure that the final draft is fit for purpose.

The 69 page draft Data Protection Bill 2012 and the accompanying consultation papers are available at www.dataprotection.ky and in hard copy from the Government Administration Building at 133 Elgin Avenue. Members of the public are asked to provide comments by Friday, 2 November 2012 and can call 244 3607 for more information.

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Crisis centre secures sponsors for annual fund raiser

| 13/09/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Surviving on a small government grant and the goodwill of the people the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre has secured a premier local sponsor for its annual fundraiser the Jingle Bell Walk Run. Cayman’s only women’s shelter is heavily dependent on this event as it generates at least $50,000 annually to its operating budget. The Crisis Centre provides housing, support services and 24-hour security for victims of domestic abuse and their children.  Last year, the Shelter housed 30 women and 35 children as they made their way to lives free from abuse. “Domestic abuse is a community problem and it will take a community to overcome it,” Allison Clark, board member and chairperson of the Centre’s fundraising committee said.

“The more people are aware of what constitutes domestic abuse, the more support a woman and her children will receive to escape it.  We all have the right to live our lives free from violence,” she added.

Kevin Butler, a Director from Conyers Dill and Pearman (Cayman) Limited the sponsor of the event said the centre fulfils a necessary service to this community.  “Our firm is fully in support of the Centre’s vision for the Cayman Islands as ‘a safe society where all individuals are equally valued and respected’ and we feel it is important to contribute in a way that directlybenefits individuals in this community,” he added.

The Jingle Bell Walk Run will be held Sunday 9 December 2012 in Crystal Harbour, starting at the Grand Caymanian Resort.  To register for this event, log on to CaymanActive.com or to sponsor email aclark@investors-trust.com.

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Brac plane crash electrical

| 13/09/2012 | 23 Comments

wreckage.JPG(CNS): UK officials have said that a plane crash on Cayman Brac last year was probably down to an electrical failure which drove the Cessna 210 aircraft off its original course and ultimately to its demise when it attempted an emergency landing on a remote road. The details of the accident are revealed in a newly published report by the Air Accident Investigation Branch, which indicates that Cayman was never the plane’s intended destination. The crash investigators concluded that the pilots were taking significant risks during the flight that both would have been well aware of but the accident report does not speculate on the reasons why the pilots placed themselves in danger.

Although neither the RCIPS nor the new report have gone into the details of what the pilots were doing, the implication has always been that the men were likely involved in an illegal drug operation. However, in the wake of the report’s publication, the RCIPS confirmed again that no cargo other than the fuel tanks had ever been recovered by investigating officers who arrived on the scene shortly after the crash. 

According to the AAIB report, the aircraft’s probable electrical failure prevented the use of a modified fuel system intended to provide additional range for the aircraft and also drove the pilots off their intended flight path.

“The aircraft then deviated from its original flight path, possibly because the crew intended to divert to Cuba, and its track passed over Cayman Brac. Evidence indicates that the pilot attempted to land on a road. The aircraft was destroyed when it encountered obstacles, including poles, beside the road. The manner of operation of this aircraft, including extended flights over water and the modified fuel system, introduced risks to the flight of which the crew must have been aware,” the investigators stated.

The small plane crashed about 10 miles north of the airport in the evening of Sunday 13 November. At the time, local police as well as fire and rescue officers who attended the scene found no hope of survivors and sealed off the crash site. Both Jose Santos Castaneda Castrejon, age 35, a Mexican national,and Fernando Duran Garcia, age 56, who was Colombian, were killed in the smash as a result of blunt force trauma.

It is estimated by officials that emergency service personnel were on the scene some eight minutes after the crash was reported by an off-duty police officer. Then, once the site was secured, RCIPS investigators, including CID and DSCTF officers, the Joint Intelligence Unit and the Air Operations Unit, all worked alongside the AAIB inspectorsto investigate the crash.

“It was clear early on in the investigation that the flight this aircraft was embarked on was not in accordance with the international rules of aviation or the subject of any official flight planning,” the RCIPS stated in connection with the incident.

The crash investigators analysed the tracks of the aircraft from GPS units found on the aircraft, which showed that the planned route was from Mexico into Venezuela. The investigation revealed that in the weeks prior to the crash the pilots had made long distance flights from Central America into Venezuela, returning into unrecognized landing sites in Guatemala, Belize and Mexico. 

“At no time was there any evidence that previous or intended routes included the Cayman Islands, or passing close to the Islands … As both pilots died instantly, it will always be a matter of conjecture the reason for the deviation, and indeed the purpose of the flight,” the police stated.

RCIPS Air Operations Commander Steve Fitzgerald said the men were both commercial pilots.

“They would have been fully aware of the International requirements of flight planning and the risks associated with unauthorised fuel modifications, together with flying a single engine aircraft over a 1,000 miles over sea and at night.  The addition into the cabin of plastic open fuel containers is an incredible risk that both pilots must have been aware of,” he added.

See full crash report here

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New work permit fees now in effect

| 13/09/2012 | 0 Comments

Empty-Pockets (279x271).jpg(CNS Business): The business community will be digging deep to pay for new work permits as of today following the increases to most permit fees. The new rates have now been implemented after government changed the regulations to reflect the fee hikes in this year’s budget. For the second time in two years the premier has turned to work permits to boost the public coffers and cover the mounting cost of operating the local government. Although it was expected that the financial services sector would bear the greatest burden in fee increases, most fees have gone up, impacting retail, building and the tourism industries among others at a time when many businesses can ill afford the extra costs. Read more on CNS Business

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