Archive for July, 2013

Bread roll swindle rolls on

| 30/07/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The conviction against a baker for defrauding Foster's Supermarket in a $300,000 bread roll swindle has been quashed by the appeal court and a re-trial ordered as a result of two issues relating to the trial last year before Justice Charles Quin. Dave Bryan was convicted in April 2012 of obtaining property be deception for a con he allegedly carried out against the local supermarket over a two year period by doctoring invoices relating to the delivery of rolls, buns and bread. His five year sentence was also set aside when the appeal court panel found that the trial judge should have been told that the crown's key witness had cut a deal to avoid prosecution and that evidence which was admitted should not have been.

As a result of the circumstances of the case, the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal did not acquit Bryan (48), who was the business partner of MLA Bernie Bush at the West Bay-based Cayman Bakery, but quashed the guilty verdict and sent it back to the Grand Court to be heard again, giving the baker another chance to fight the allegations of fraud.
The appeal court judges said that the "judge's verdict must be regarded as unsafe" when they pointed to the failure of some factors to be considered, asthe judge was unaware of the inducement the main witness had to give evidence and the admission of some police evidence that had been acquired under pressure and in circumstances that broke the judges' rules.  
"It is Impossible that this verdict can be regarded as safe," the appeal court president, Sir John Chadwick, stated as he dismissed the idea advanced by crown counsel Michael Snape that the rest of the evidence was overwhelming and therefore the conviction should stick. The appeal court judge said Bryan "did not receive a fair trial," and allowed the appeal on first count on which Bryan was convicted.
During the hearing and their open deliberations, the appeal judges expressed concern that the crown had not revealed its deal with the main witness, Morgan Seymour, that had allowed him to avoid prosecution and allowed Justice Quin to think the witness was there purely on a voluntary basis. They also indicated that the defendant's defence attorney should have pressed the witness about the issue, as the lawyer knew a deal had been brokered. 
Crown counsel Michael Snape argued that he did not believe it was the prosecution's place to reveal the circumstances as to why the witness came to be on the stand and  that he had expected defense counsel Marseta Facey Clarke to tackle that in cross examination, which she did not.
Although Facey-Clark had asked the witness if anyone had asked him to give evidence, he evaded the question and implied he was there of his own volition, and as the defence lawyer did not press the matter, the judge never learned that Seymour had been a suspect in the case who had been promised protection from prosecution if he gave evidence against Bryan.
Having only dealt with the first count, the second count on which Bryan was convicted, that he forged his business partner's signature for a loan, remains. Bryan was sentenced to just twelve months for that crime, a period he has already served in jail. However, Snape objected to the release of Bryan, who is a Jamaican national, as he said that he had been on remand prior to the trial and he would request the same again.
As a result, the appeal court ordered that Marseta Facey-Clarke, Bryan's attorney, make an application for her client's release with the Grand Court.
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Religious groups in Kentucky slam science curriculum

| 30/07/2013 | 0 Comments

(Huffington Post): Supporters and opponents of the Next Generation Science Standards sparred during hearings in Kentucky last week, as critics took issue with the standards’ teaching of evolution and climate change. The new standards were developed with input from officials in 26 states –- including Kentucky –- and are part of an effort to make science curricula more uniform across the country. While supporters feel the standards will help beat back scientific ignorance, some religious groups take issue because the standards treat evolution as fact and talk about the human role in climate change.

The Kentucky Board of Education adopted the standards in June and held hearings to get public feedback on the standards last week before they were presented to the state legislature for official approval.

Matt Singleton, a Baptist minister, is one of the opponents who spoke to the board about why the standards should not be adopted, according to The Courier-Journal. “Outsiders are telling public school families that we must follow the rich man’s elitist religion of evolution, that we no longer have what the Kentucky Constitution says is the right to worship almighty God,” Singleton said. “Instead, this fascist method teaches that our children are the property of the state.”

Another opponent, Dena Stewart-Gore, suggested that the standards will make religious students feel ostracized. “The way socialism works is it takes anybody that doesn’t fit the mold and discards them,” she said, per the The Courier-Journal. “We are even talking genocide and murder here, folks.”

Supporters of the standards contended that opponents’ fears are unfounded and that the standards’ curriculum is based on evidence.

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Hyman set for World Championships

| 30/07/2013 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Cayman sprinter Kemar Hyman will be competing in the men's 100m at the upcoming 14th International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Athletics, the Cayman Islands Athletic Association (CIAA) announced Monday. Hyman represented Cayman at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, and the 2012 London Olympics but was forced to withdraw in the semi finals with an abdomen injury. The 23-year-old Florida State University senior is the current national record holder in the 100m and 200m and is consistently one of the top short distance sprinters in the American college circuit, earning All-American honors last year with a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships in the Indoor 60-meter dash (6.59s). 

The World Championships will be held this year in Moscow, Russia, from Saturday 10 to Sunday 18 August. The first round of the men's 100m is scheduled for 19:35 Moscow time (10:35am Cayman time) on Saturday 10 August, followed by the semi-final round at 19:05 Moscow time (10:05am Cayman time) on Sunday 11 August and the final at 21:50 (12:50pm Cayman time). 

Hyman will be accompanied by his personal coach, Dennis Mitchell and Dr Dalton Watler-Lyons, President of the CIAA, who will serve as Team Leader and Manager.

Prior to the World Championships, Watler-Lyons will attend the IAAF Congress from the evening of 6 August through Noon on Thursday 8 August. He will also attend the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) Congress on the afternoon of Tuesday 6 August, where the main item on the agenda is the election of the person who will serve out the remainder of the term of former NACAC President, Neville "Teddy" McCook, who passed away earlier this year. Prof. John-Paul Clarke, former Vice-President of the CIAA, will be assisting at both congresses as the second delegate from the Cayman Islands.

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DG’s minutes reveal bureaucratic ironies

| 30/07/2013 | 9 Comments

(CNS): The latest short record of the civil service bosses’ meeting with the deputy governor have revealed the ironies of bureaucracy. During the high level weekly meeting on 15 July the chief officers discussed the issue of red tape and bureaucracy. According to the minutes, a Cabinet paper submitted on 16 July requested that government reviews the business processes carried out and the information provided by government departments with a view to eliminating administrative burdens that act as a disincentive to new businesses start-ups or that is harmful to existing businesses. The discussion on the review comes after an agenda item entitled "Final Report of the Committee to Review Reports".

The issue of government reports and reviews gathering dust on shelves or disappearing among the corridors of government is a long running criticism of government as few of the costly reports ever develop into effective policies.

According to the record of the meeting, the report on the reports requires changes to be made to the Public Management and Finance Law, an issue that has been in question for several years. However, so far no significant changes have been made to the law, which the auditor general has described as being too complicated for the local government.

The report on the reports committee is also working towards including recommendations from the Turnbull Report in their final report, the minutes record.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet paper on reviewing red tape for businesses, with the goal of a greater focus on technology, administrative simplification and a business friendly climate that exceeds customer expectations had led to the creation of another committee, which CO’s Eric Bush and Dax Basdeo have been asked to sit on.

The minutes revealed that the senior public servants also discussed the Cabinet recommendation to review the Public Authorities Bill, the forthcoming budget and the need to keep general ledgers up to date.

See the latest deputy governor’s meeting minutes below.

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Details still in quesiton over white collar theft

| 30/07/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 57 year old man who is accused of stealing close to half a million US dollars from his former employers is currently in discussions with the office of the director of public prosecutions over the details of his alleged crime. Michael Levitt is expected to plead guilty to the significant theft from Solomon Harris but his attorney, Ben tonner explained to the court Friday that while his client is keen to cooperate, the crown’s indictment will need to be amended so his client does not admit crimes he did not commit. As Levitt is now expected to formally admit his guilt shortly, a hearing has been set for sentencing in September.

The former president of a local branch of Rotary is believed to have stolen the money when he worked as a compliance officer with the local law firm. He was arrested in connection with the crime in March following the discovery of financial irregularities during an annual audit. Levitt is under stood to have stolen directly from Solomon Harris and not any of its clients.

Levitt, who is a foreign national, was remanded in custody to HMP Northward following his appearance Friday until 9 August when his attorney expects the details of his clients’ offence will be properlyexpressed on the indictment. Having admitted his guilt from an early point in the investigation the defendant will be hoping to benefit from the maximum credit available on sentencing.

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Ex-cop still evades jail

| 30/07/2013 | 31 Comments

(CNS): Despite being convicted of wounding over a year ago and sentenced to six months in prison, a 39-year-old ex-cop has managed to postpone jailagain for a further five months after his appeal against his conviction and sentence on Monday was adjourned. Rabe Welcome was found guilty in June last year after a trial by jury, which concluded the former RCIPS officer had used excessive force during an arrest in the early hours of the morning at a George Town gas station while off duty some four years ago. Although he receiveda custodial sentence in September 2012, Welcome has spent only a few days in jail after filing his appeal and being re-bailed.

Welcome told the appeal court Monday that he was seeking the services of a QC to present his appeal and asked that the hearing be postponed until the next Cayman Islands Court of Appeal sitting in November.

It is well over four years since the incident and more than one year since he was convicted by a jury after trial, but Welcome has managed to remain a free man on bail pending the appeal.

The ex-cop, who was dismissed from the RCIPS once he was convicted, broke an arm and caused other injuries to Adolphus Myrie, which the judge said had crossed the line and led to his jail term, which Justice Alex Henderson was needed to deter other police officers and to send a message that such abuse of power would not be tolerated.

The judge said that Welcome had no previous convictions or disciplinary violations, had good character references and that he had a low risk of re-offending, but because of what Justice Henderson had described as the “unusual circumstances of the case” and the need to send an important message to other police officers, he imposed the six months imprisonment.

Speaking for his client during the sentencing hearing, defence attorney Ben Tonner had asked the judge not to impose jail time but a community-based sentence and a compensation order, as a prison sentence for a former police officer would be even harder since he could be serving alongside people he had arrested.

The altercation was believed to have been started by Welcome when he and other off duty cops insulted Myrie’s girlfriend, but Myrie then over-reacted with his threats towards the men, threatening them with a machete in his car.

The judge said that Welcome had a right to make an arrest as Myrie had committed at least two offences, but once the victim had been persuaded to put down the machete there was no longer a need for Welcome to defend himself. Justice Henderson found that when the assault took place, Myrie did not pose a threat to the off-duty officer, who was also physically much bigger than him.

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Good character can’t beat mandatory gun rap

| 30/07/2013 | 20 Comments

(CNS): A CUC linesman who was convicted of possession of an unlicensed firearm in May after he found a handgun on some derelict land in Prospect was unable to persuade the Court of Appeal that he should not have received the mandatory seven years for his offence. Trevor Burke, QC, who represented Michael Powell (42) in his appeal case on Monday, argued that his client was of exemplary character with no criminal intention who had made a stupid mistake when he took the gun he found into his possession and, therefore, these were exceptional circumstances that the judge could have considered in order not to impose the mandatory seven years. Powell was sentenced after he pleaded guilty but the judge found no exceptional circumstances in the case and imposed the mandatory jail time. 

Burke submitted that Powell, who is a father of five, was not just good character but exemplary and it was evident that he had no criminal intent when he took the gun. Burke said that when Powell discovered his trusted police contact had left the RCIPS, he had decided to wait until there was a gun amnesty, when he would hand the weapon in. However, an unrelated matter brought the police to his house last year and as a result he told them about the weapon and how he had found the gun some two months earlier.

The court heard that it was not the first time that Powell had discovered a weapon and had also recovered ganja while out and about, and had handed these things to the police. Burke said that, given that there was no criminal intention and that Powell believed he was doing the right thing taking the gun out of criminal circulation, the seven year jail time was an awfully long time for what was a stupid mistake.

He told the court that his client had even sat as a foreman on a jury during a major murder trial and so was very well aware of the danger guns posed to the community, which was why he believed it was safer to remove the gun rather than leave it for the criminal who had hidden it to return and pick it up.

While the Court of Appeal judges said they were sympathetic to the case, they, like the judge, did not find any exceptional circumstances. Describing his decision to take the gun into his possession and keep it for some two months as “extraordinary behaviour”, they said that being of good character with no criminal intent was not an exceptional circumstance and he had made a decision to keep the gun.

The appeal judges said that the decision about exceptional circumstances was one for the sentencing judge to make unless it was so obviously wrong. Referring to various authorities, they said that, despite their sympathy for the appellant, they could not find that the judge was wrong and emphasised that even exemplary character was not enough.

“It is impossible not to have sympathy for the appellant, who has created a personal disaster, but it is a matter we must put aside as required and dismiss the appeal,” the president of the Court of Appeal, Sir John Chadwick, said as he confirmed the seven year prison term.

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Gun found in bushes earns CUC linesman 7 years jail

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Child rapist’s sentence sticks

| 30/07/2013 | 38 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal has upheld a sixteen year sentence handed down to a 30-year-old man following his conviction for the rape and sexual assault of a 6-year-old girl. The man, who cannot be named because of a law prohibiting the publication of anything that could identify the victim, is from Cayman Brac. He will now serve the sentence handed down by the chief justice as the appeal court did not agree with the man’s attorney that the sentence was excessive. The panel dismissed the appeal following submissions by John Furniss, who argued that in comparison to other local cases of stranger and violent rape, the sentence was long.

However, the appeal judges disagreed and said that given the number of aggravating features and no mitigating features at all, the judge was entitled to pass the sentence that he did.

“We find it impossible to say that the sixteen year sentence imposed by the judge was excessive,” Sir John Chadwick, the president of the appeal court, said as he pointed out that, in accordance with the guidelines, the sentencing judge was entitled to start at fifteen years if he wished and add more time for the aggravating features

The three judge panel pointed to the fact that not only had the appellant, whose appeal against conviction they had dismissed in a previous appeal court session, been convicted of two counts of rape and two counts of sexual assault on a child who he was trusted with as she was a relative of his wife, the rape and assault had been repeated over a four month period. There was the further aggravating factor of degradation as a result of him forcing the child to give him oral sex, plus the offender had a previous conviction for the sexual assault of a work colleague.

The appeal court was also expected to hear another rape case Monday but the 47-year-old West Bay man, who is serving 12 years for the rape of a teenage girl, asked for an adjournment to the winter sitting of the higher court in order to apply for a Queens Counsel to handle his appeal.

Tyrone Ebanks, who wishes to appeal both the conviction and the sentence, was found guilty last September, following a judge alone trial before Justice Michael Mettyear, for the rape of a 14-year-old girl, whom he dragged from her bicycle as she passed his house.

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LIME repairing cable failure

| 29/07/2013 | 53 Comments

(CNS) Updated 6pm: LIME customers may have problems with internet and phone services following a failure early yesterday on their submarine cable system that runs north and south out of the Cayman Islands, the local telecommunications company said. LIME is working on repairs but said that 34% of the Cayman international circuits are still down. Customers will likely experience difficulties throughout the day when calling internationally, and inbound calls will also be impacted. LIME said that customers may also experience intermittent failures with international dialing and roaming customers may encounter call issues. Michael Edenholm, CEO of Logic, told CNS Monday evening that Logic TV and internet customers were not experiencing outages due to the MAYA-1 cable failure. 

LIME has also confirmed that, contrary to an earlier statement in which the company said that other carriers had issues with international capacity, Logic customers were not experiencing any issues with voice or data traffic, as a result of having restoration arrangements.

In their initial release, LIME said that in the early morning of Sunday 28 July, at approximately 6am, a failure occurred on the MAYA-1 Cable System, which is a submarine cable system that runs north and south out of the Cayman Islands. It is this system that provides internet and international capacity for LIME Cayman Islands, LIME Jamaica and LIME Turks and Caicos.

LIME’s initial findings are that the Maya-1 Cable System has suffered a shunt fault at on Segment 6, which is located between Half Moon Bay (Cable station) and Repeater 1 (Line Amplifier) in Cayman. The failure is preventing the local power feeding units from reaching their operating output levels and forcing them into shutdown mode despite numerous attempts to restore them. This first repeater is some 47km out to sea, and at this stage there is no definitive information on the exact location of the impairment that is causing the shunt fault so LIME’s team is continuing to work with local resources,suppliers and the other MAYA landing stations on this matter.

As no damage on the "Land Segment" of the system has been found, LIME said the team has now turned their efforts to more closely examining the shore-end of the cable system. These activities are now underway with divers familiar with the cable-landing, making the necessary preparations to conduct this detailed survey. The divers are expected to specifically identify any possible impairments that may be of concerns and potentially leading to this outage. 

LIME took steps yesterday to restore as much traffic as possible to go via the Cayman Jamaica Fibre system. At the moment traffic has been activated where capacity is available and operators have prior agreements.

Detailing current customer impact, the company said that internet customers (ADSL and Mobile data) may experience degradation of internet service; customers may also experience intermittent failures with international dialing; customers of Logic and West Star will experience issues with the international capacity; and roaming customers may encounter call issues. 34% of the Cayman international circuits are still down. Customers will likely experience difficulties throughout the day when calling internationally.  Inbound calls will also be impacted.

In addition to the ongoing inspections, LIME has also taken the preliminary step of advising a cable repair ship as a member of the Atlantic Cable Maintenance Agreement body (ACMA), effectively placing them on standby in the event the fault is proven to be at sea. 

Lastly, LIME is also working with the MAYA Consortium to reconfigure the system in an attempt to power-feed the cable from Miami. This is a complex process that will require a complete system outage and will be attempted starting at mid-night, Tuesday 0000. At this stage the Cayman traffic is down, but LIME stressed that MAYA traffic between the Americas (not destined for Cayman) is still working, however this reconfiguration will force a full system outage.

LIME GM Tony Ritch stated, “This is obviously a major outage for the country, and we apoligize for this protracted downtime and impact to consumers and businesses.  Regrettably given the complexity of this system, it is taking quite some time to identify the fault.  At this stage we are expecting the system configuration changes that will commence in a few hours to yield positive results and restore the traffic. Our local team is also working diligently to re-route traffic where possible to minimize the impact.  As more information becomes available, LIME will provide updates to the media and via various channels including text alerts to the wider base.”

He concluded, “Until we are able to conduct some additional tests (in the early hours of Tuesday morning) once the entire system is off-line, we may not be able to definitively identify the likely location of a possible cable fault.  Unfortunately, LIME will not be able to offer any additional details on the likely restoration time-frame until more information becomes available.”

The Information and Communication Technology Authority (ICTA) and the Ministry of Planning, Lands, Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure (PLAHI) have been kept informed of all developments, LIME said.

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275 poached conch recovered by DoE

| 29/07/2013 | 52 Comments

(CNS): Over the last month four poachers have been arrested in connection with two separate incidents, one involving 156 conch and one 119 conch illegally taken from a protected zone, and the Department of Environment (DoE) is warning that anyone who takes conch from Cayman’s waters or purchases conch taken from Cayman waters between the beginning of May and the end of October is doing so illegally. Reminding restaurants that it is illegal to purchase local conch in the off-season, the DoE said that poaching and illegal sales threaten the conch population.

Two poachers were arrested in each of the two incidents, and both incidents are still under investigation, according to DoE Chief Enforcement Officer Mark Orr.

In a release Monday, the department said that it takes poaching and buying poached conch seriously, and anyone caught with poached conch is liable to face serious charges under the law.

During open season, which runs from 1 November to 30 April, the daily limit is five. These restrictions are in place because the Cayman Islands conch population, while sufficient for limited personal consumption within the law, cannot support a commercial fishery.

‘We understand that many people are without work due to the downturn in the economy, but that is not an excuse to destroy the balance of our natural environment by stealing,” said Orr. ‘We must be vigilant because at this rate, our children and grand-children will not have the luxury of diving for conch, or enjoying a delicious conch meal in open season, because there simply won’t be enough left.”

Referring to the poaching incidents, he said, “In both cases they had other illegally taken marine life as well and in one case the offenders kept some of the more attractive conch shells, perhaps for sale to tourists,” said Orr. “Everyone has an obligation to obey the law and I hope that individuals and local businesses will assist us in reporting this kind of illegal activity.”

Illegal catches that are seized and confiscated by the DoE are donated to the Pines or the Pink Ladies who provide receipts that are later presented to the courts as evidence of the proper disposal of the perishable seafood.

The Department encourages the public to report any suspicious activity by calling 911, Mark Orr on 916-4271, or the DoE on 949-8469.

Copies of the Marine Conservation rules are available online here, from the DoE or in the ‘Government Blue Pages’ of the telephone directory.

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