Archive for October 29th, 2013

Lead robbers get 14yrs jail

Lead robbers get 14yrs jail

| 29/10/2013 | 25 Comments

(CNS): With two trial judges and a variety of convictions between them, the five men charged in the Cayman National Bank and WestStar armed robberies last year were sentenced Tuesday for their part in the crimes. David Tomasa, considered the mastermind in both robberies, and Andre Burton were handed 14 year sentences. Ryan Edwards, who was found guilty of aiding and abetting in the WestStar crime, was still given a 13 year sentence as he was one of the gunmen in the bank robbery. Although George Mignot was acquitted in the TV office hold-up, he received 12 years for the CNB robbery. Rennie Cole, who was accused of being a decoy at the bank, was given nine years for his part in the criminal gang.

Tomasa (33), Burton (28) and Edwards (37) were first sentenced for their part in the WestStar trial by visiting judge, Justice Alastair Malcolm. It was then down to local judge, Justice Alex Henderson, to deal with both the Cayman National Bank robbery and the complex issue of the totality of the sentences following Justice Malcolm’s decision. Although three of the men were convicted of committing two distinct robberies around one month apart, the court had to give consideration to the overall time the men would serve in prison.

The visiting judge gave both Tomasa and Burton eleven years for their robbery conviction in the TV hold-up and five years to Edwards for his supporting role in the case. Malcolm noted that Tomasa, a married man with three children who was the ring leader, had no previous convictions and had been of good character. His wife, who had spoken as a witness for him, said he had lived a good and decent life until he turned his hand to robbery, makingit “even more distressing that a he had committed such a crime”. But the judge noted that in the present climate the courts must do everything it could to protect both people and businesses from such attacks.

Following the sentencing ruling by Justice Malcolm on Tuesday morning, Justice Alex Henderson then gave his decision the same afternoon. Based on guidelines and legal authorities, as well as the requirement in the law to consider the entirety of the time the three men would serve, he bumped both Tomasa and Burton’s sentences up to 14 years and that of Edwards to 13 years. Edwards was also handed an additional concurrent sentence of five years for removing cash stolen in the bank heist to Jamaica.

Justice Henderson said that the bank robbery was the biggest ever in Cayman. More than $500,000 was stolen, representing around one sixth of the local bank’s profits per annum, most of which has never been recovered. However, around $40,000 was found on Edwards when he was arrested in Jamaica and some $100,000 was dropped by the robbers as they fled from the heist after their getaway vehicle was blocked by the bank’s armoured truck.

Although he acknowledged that the robbers in the bank heist did make some errors in their otherwise well-planned robbery, Justice Henderson described it as a substantially, sophisticated crime which was executed quickly and efficiently. He said the five men had worked as a team of professional bank robbers.

Before passing sentence, the judge also recommended the deportation of both Rennie Cole and Ryan Edwards, who are both Jamaican nationals, once they had served their sentences. The other three men involved in the crimes are all Caymanian.

As the police were never able to recover the weapons used in the crimes, the crown was only able to charge the robbers with possession of imitation firearms with intent. However, both judges pointed out that the victims of the robberies did not know whether the weapons were real or not or if they were loaded when they were pointed in their direction and the men threatened them and demanded the cash.

In each case where the men were charged with possessing fake guns they were handed down concurrent sentences of seven years.

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| 29/10/2013 | 46 Comments

Thegovernment has acted quickly and decisively by passing the new immigration bill amendments. Anyone who criticised the current premier in the past for being too passive will find the decisive moves on immigration very encouraging. Unfortunately, that's right about where the praise ends. The result of the changes is that any TLEP who fits even vaguely into the middle/low class and is not Caymanian will have to leave.

The lip service that domestic helpers and others should also have an opportunity to become permanent citizens is just that because we all know that getting PR has now become so difficult under the new regime that it is virtually impossible for most "ordinary" folks to obtain it.

What will very likely happen is that several hundred persons will have leave by the end of this year, straight and simple.

And what next?

The government has faced a lot of criticism for introducing the changes by many Caymanians because they feel (ironically) that it doesn't go far enough.

At the same time, there are many expats and their Caymanian friends and family who are registered voters who will have a lot to say to Mr McLaughlin on the injustices of essentially booting out hundreds of Jamaicans, Filipinos and other nationals through the back door.

Unfortunately for the government, in addition to managing to achieve this amazing double negative result (upsetting both the Caymanian and expat groups) they are also likely to fail in their own stated economic policy. Everyone was subjected to the government's argument that losing approximately 1,500 persons all at once would have a detrimental impact on the economy.

It almost doesn't matter what you think about their argument on that front. But if you consider that what they are actually doing (albeit in a far less transparent manner) is getting rid of a large number of workers because most of them won't qualify for PR, then are we not basically back to the same 'economic crisis' problem?

Immigration is a near impossible issue to 'fix' in this country and we should all cut some slack to any government or political leader when facing with the task of crafting solutions for the common good in such a controversial and emotive area.

But when three months of debate among policymakers leads to upsetting Caymanians, expats, the opposition and the so-called Southeast Corner, while risking further damage to the economy (based on their own theory) in one fell swoop, you do have to wonder.

If solving the TLEPs issue was about the economy then we would avoid getting rid of a large group of workers all at once, since that would be disruptive to businesses and cause a loss of wages currently being spent locally.

If solving the TLEPs issue was about protecting Caymanian jobs then we would expect an aggressive attempt to get rid of many expats ASAP, so that Caymanians could get a chance to fill those vacant jobs (if that is your theory).

The truth is both of these approaches are based on short term implications. The real source of the TLEPs issue started over three decades ago when successive governments started down the road of failing to invest in the development of Caymanians (to secure the higher paying jobs), failing to apply adequate enforcement in the face of the most basic immigration and labour breaches against Caymanians (for example those ridiculous classifieds ads that everyone complains about but which continue) and continuing to pretend that Caymanians will become domestic workers, yardmen, dishwashers and toilet cleaners if we give them an extra two dollars an hour or as soon as that "other person" leaves the island.

Our politicians have failed to plan and patched up labour policy along the way while continuing to play the people with immigration politics. Until they craft an informed strategy with medium to long term goals and stick to it, we will be faced with one version of 'TLEPSonomy' or another.

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Fastest PFL goal helps place South Sound top

Fastest PFL goal helps place South Sound top

| 29/10/2013 | 0 Comments

(CUC-PFL): The Under 11s from South Sound Schools moved to the top of Group B in the CUC Primary Football League (PFL) following a hard-fought victory over Prospect Primary this past Saturday at the Annex Field. With Group B leaders Cayman Prep idle this past weekend after postponing their games against North East Schools due to their mid-term break, two goals from Diondre Wright in the 13th second and 28th minute was enough to defeat Prospect Primary 2-1. Wright’s 13 second strike was the quickest goal so far this season and one of the fastest goals scored in PFL history.

Prospect Primary’s Andrew Suberan drew his team level in the 26thminute after South Sounds’ goalkeeper Brandon Jackson parried a shot directly on to the boots of the Prospect danger man. Two minutes later, Diondre Wright broke free to hammer home his second goal of the day and the game winner.

Prospect came very close to levelling the score two minutes from time with Joshua Jackson blasting his long range drive off the cross bar. In the earlier Under 9 game, South Sound Schools’ Jake Booker scored in the 6th and 22nd minutes to secure a 2-0 victory over the youngsters from Prospect Primary.

In the only other Group B games of the day, it was Triple C 4 vs. Bodden Town Primary 0 (Under 9; forfeit) and Triple C 4 vs. Bodden Town Primary 3 (Under 11).

In the day’s second set of matches at the Annex Field, Group A’s Savannah Primary and George Town Primary shared the spoils as each school left the capital with a win a piece. In the Under 9 game, Savannah’s Jynu Jacob led his team to a 6-0 victory over George Town Primary after netting three goals in the first half. Further strikes from Javon Clarke, Akiel Bodden and Jaquan Wray sealed the win.

In the Under 11 encounter, missed opportunities and an own goal plagued Savannah Primary’s efforts as they went down 2-1 to George Town Primary. Savannah’s Akiel Bodden scored and missed a penalty either side of half time and George Town’s Isaac Ebanks was involved with both of his school’s goals scoring the first and playing a major part in Savannah’s unfortunate own goal.

Other results from Group A included Sir John A. Cumber Primary 3 vs. Truth For Youth 0 (Under 9); and Sir John A. Cumber Primary 3 vs. Truth For Youth 2 (Under 11). The 2013/2014 CUC PFL regular season takes a break this Saturday due to the mid-term break and resumes on Saturday 9 November.

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CIPS issues alert re Christmas post

CIPS issues alert re Christmas post

| 29/10/2013 | 6 Comments

(CNS): With November fast approaching, the Cayman Islands Postal Service has issued an alert regarding postage for Christmas 2013. The deadline for surface parcels has already passed for many countries and the regional deadline is today. Anyone wishing to use the surface parcel service to send Christmas packages to Canada, the US, Britain and Western Europe must do so by 5 November to be guaranteed of their arrival before 25 December. Deputy PMG, Operations Melissa Martinez-Ebanks warned posters that there are also a number of posting restrictions to various countries that they must bear in mind before posting which could require the local service to examine packages before they leave Cayman.

“Inorder to comply with international security requirements, any package, letter mail, small packet, parcel and EMS, weighing more than 16oz must be examined by the Cayman Islands Postal Service counter staff,” she said. “Due to new restrictions, items containing lithium batteries, including cell phones and laptops, cannot be accepted for transport in mail originating from the Cayman Islands.”

Martinez-Ebanks said other items were also prohibited from the postal system, such as hazardous, flammable, combustible or explosive materials. “This includes perfume and alcohol which is 70% proof and over. In addition, the CIPS will not accept any ink or toner cartridges that weigh more than 16 ounces, for mail transportation,” she added.

The post office urged customers to post early, fill out a customs declarations form, particularly if the items are valuable, use only white labels and write legibly to ensure that packages get to the intended recipients on time.

The minister responsible for the post office, Kurt Tibbetts, encouraged people to use the service over Christmas and remember their loved ones.

“Everyone likes being remembered and sending greeting cards is another way to stay in touch with family and friends overseas. It shows you took the time to say you care,” the minister said.

The post office offers four different services. Surface mail is the most economical postage service for transporting cards and packages by sea. However, it also takes the longest to be delivered. To send a 2lb package to the US costs CI$3.50 and takes six to eight weeks to arrive. For most Caribbean Islands, the deadline is Tuesday, 29 October. For the USA and Canada the latest posting date is Tuesday, 5 November. The United Kingdom and Western Europe is Wednesday, 9 November.

Airmail service is the most popular posting method for cards and letters as it has a delivery time as quick as three days, though it can take up to two weeks depending on the location. The deadline for the US, Canada, most Caribbean Islands, the UK and Western Europe is Tuesday, 10 December. For all other countries, the deadline is Wednesday, 4 December.

The third option of Air Parcel service with tracking is still good value as a 2lb package to the USA costs as little as CI$4 and takes two to three weeks to be delivered. The deadline for all other countries is Friday, 15 November. For Canada, the USA, most Caribbean islands, the United Kingdom and Western Europe, the deadline is Tuesday, 3 December.

Express Mail Service (EMS) offers both tracking and speed but is much more expensive as a 2lb. package costs CI$18 and takes about three to five days to be delivered to the US. The deadline for all other countries is Wednesday, 11 December; for the UK and Western Europe, it is Friday, 13 December and for the USA and Canada it is Monday, 16 December.

For more information, please go to or call 949-2474 and see posting schedule below.

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Enforcement still in question

Enforcement still in question

| 29/10/2013 | 41 Comments

(CNS): Making the changes to the government’s newly gazetted immigration law and regulations work will depend heavily on enforcement and the prevention of abuses. Although concerns were raised by the opposition benches during the debate on the law last week that there was no new money in the budget for enforcement, the premier said that 13 new immigration officers would be recruited. Five of those will, he said, be dedicated to ensuring that in future employers who are dishonest in any way regarding the employment of foreign workers will face the consequences. But with the recruitment process for those posts only just underway, it will be the current immigration staff that will manage the regularization of 1,500 TLEP holders over the next 45 days.

Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, who opposes the bill because he says it is not immigration that is causing local unemployment but a lack of investment and too small a population, has said that he does not believe government can enforce the law.

“Government is being less than genuine on the matter of enforcing what they say they are trying to accomplish with Caymanians getting employed,” McKeeva Bush told CNS following the gazetting of the new law. "It’s not just enforcement; it’s the impossibility of the whole programme. Firstly, everything in the whole programme’s success, as the government says it wants, depends on immigration officers having to check on someone to ensure that they are doing what the law says. But there is a reduction in the money for staffing.”

Although the law introduces a fine of $20,000 for lying to the board, Bush pointed out that there was always a fee for lying to the boards but no one was ever prosecuted as there was never anyone policing the law to find out which employer or employee was lying about which Caymanian was qualified or not.

“I maintain that our problem is not immigration, though; it is that our economy is not moving forward,” he said, adding that before and after Hurricane Ivan in 2004 there were the highest amount of work permits in Cayman’s history and there was little or no local unemployment because all who wanted work could find it.

Bush said the economy was weak because of the opposition to the projects he had proposed during his time in office from the PPM, the former governor Duncan Taylor and others. Bush said the only way to give people jobs was with an economy that was moving ahead with sustainable development.

However, the independent members on the opposition benches believe that unemployment had been exasperated by the failure of the authorities to enforce the previous law and they believe the changes now passed by the PPM government will make things worse. Where they agree with Bush is on the area of enforcement.

During his debate on Wednesday the independent member for North Side, Ezzard Miller, pointed out that while government had increased the funding for handling permanent residency applications, there was no money in the budget allocation for immigration enforcement.

Miller has raised particular concerns over the 1,500 TLEP holders, who instead of leaving on Monday are now queuing at immigration. The workers will need to regularize their status while their employers go through the process of either finding a Caymanian to replace them, applying for a new permit or letting them go within the next 45 days.

While Premier Alden McLaughlin has admitted that the recruitment of the 13 new officers will not be completed until the New Year, he said that the situation regarding the Term Limit Exemption Permit holders would have been difficult even if government had opted to let them all go, as employers would still have to advertise for and recruit their replacements.

McLaughlin told CNS that money has been allocated in the budget for enforcement as five of the thirteen new posts will be focused entirely on policing employers and business staffing plans and nothing else. He said that these new officers will ensure that positions are not inflated when advertised to suit a particular worker and that work permit applications are not misleading. He said the immigration regime will become more efficient as the chief immigration officer and her staff begin to handle more applications rather than waiting on the board to approve every single permit.

McLaughlin said that too much was being made about the decision to allow 1,500 TLEPS holders to stay because the situation would have been far worse if they had all been forced to leave on Monday. He said that so far things had gone relatively smoothly and the processing of these workers was now underway.

The premier said the changes in this bill were just the first step in a complete overhaul of the immigration regime. In four months his government had managed to do far more than the opposition leader had during his three and a half years in office to tackle the various problems relating to immigration and the broken system.

“What did he do while in office? He talked the talk but what action did he take?” McLaughlin asked, as he pointed the finger at Bush for the creation of the Term Limit Exemption Permits problem in the first place, which was compounded with the termination of them all on 28 October 2013. “He is directly responsible for this situation,” the premier told CNS. “I cannot believe that anyone could come up with such a short sighted policy."

Pointing to further changes next summer, McLaughlin said that government would be enforcing the law in earnest and at least making sure local workers were no longer marginalized as a result of a poor enforcement regime.

See new Immigration Law and Amendments as gazetted on Friday below.

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Murder investigation begins

Murder investigation begins

| 29/10/2013 | 35 Comments

(CNS): Following the discovery of the body of a 35-year-old man in a pond behind some apartments off Courts Road in George Town, police are understood to have launched a murder investigation. Although there are still few official details, PatrickLeonard Williamson was reportedly found at around 7am on Monday morning behind the apartments where he lived. A missing person report was filed at around 3pm on Sunday, police said. Williamson was believed to have been involved in an altercation outside a bar late Friday night, early Saturday morning, when he was last seen alive. Police have said very little about how Williamson was killed except that his death was suspicious and have now issued details of his movements Friday.

Police are appealing for anyone who saw Williamson on Friday night-Saturday morning to come forward. He was last seen alive at around 3:30 on Saturday morning in the vicinity of Eastern Avenue/Courts Raod. He was driving a silver Toyota Corolla 145 228 and had been out to various licensed establishments – Meringue Town, Bananas and Nectar – with friends on Friday night. One of the lines of enquiry that detectives are following is that he may have been involved in an altercation at Nectar with another man on the night in question. If you were at Nectar and witnessed this, please contact the police.

The senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Joseph Wright, is appealing for anyone who saw Williamson (pictured above) or his car on Friday evening into Saturday morning to come forward. The car (photo attached) has damage to the rear nearside. Information can be passed to George Town police station 949-4222, the RCIPS tip line 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477(TIPS).

The RCIPS confirmed that a family liaison officer has been appointed and a post mortem examination will take place to establish the exact cause of death.

This is the fourth murder of 2013, all of which have occurred in the space of six weeks, with the first murder of the year happening in West Bay on 15 September when Irwin Bush was gunned down outside his home in West Bay. That was followed by the fatal shooting of Earl Hart in Prospect on 3 October on his own front doorstep, and then the murder of Anthony ‘Beenie’ Connor outside the Mango Tree restaurant in George Town on 11 October. All three victims were shot, and despite some conflicting reports from the RCIPS, they are all understood to be gang related.

There has been no indication that Williamson was shot and there appears to be no indication at all that this killing was gang related.

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