Archive for November 12th, 2013

Convicted ex-cop still on bail

Convicted ex-cop still on bail

| 12/11/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Over four years after an ex-police officer was involved in an assault during an early morning off-duty arrest, he remains on bail pending the outcome of an appeal. Rabe Welcome (39), who was convicted of wounding in June last year and sentenced to six months in jail, has so far served only seven days of that sentence. More than a year after Justice Alex Henderson passed sentence in October 2012, Welcome has evaded the jail term after filing an appeal and being granted bail. When the current appeal court session opened to hear criminal cases Tuesday, Welcome’s attorney argued that his client should never have been convicted but if he was he should not have received a custodial sentence.

Thomas Lowe, QC, who was representing the former police officer during his appeal hearing, said that the jury was not properly directed to consider the issue of Welcome’s own belief that the force he used when he arrested Adolphus Myrie at a George Town gas station while off duty was proportionate. Even if others might consider that the force used was excessive, as Myrie received a number of injuries during the arrest including a broken arm, the lawyer argued that if Welcome believed it wasn’t disproportionate then he should not have been convicted. He claimed that the conviction sent a dangerous message to police officers with regard to what they should do if a suspect is resisting arrest.

He also submitted that if the conviction was safe, the sentence was excessive and Justice Henderson had concluded by the guilty verdict that the jury must have found that Welcome’s excessive force was as a result of anger and a desire to punish or extract revenge from his victim rather than to subdue him enough to enable him to place Myrie under arrest. Having arrived at that conclusion, which the attorney argued went too far as the trial judge could not know what the jury were thinking, the sentence was too severe and although justice Henderson had been concerned about the deterrent factor, Lowe argued that the same could have been achieved with a suspended sentence.

Following submissions from the crown, in which prosecuting counsel argued that the conviction was safe and the sentence proportionate, the appeal court judges said they would deliver their decision next week towards the end of this appeal court session. In the meantime, Welcome’s bail was extended once again.

At the time of sentencing Justice Henderson pointed to the need to deter other police officers from using excessive force and to send a message that such abuse of power would not be tolerated. The judge said that although Welcome had no previous convictions or disciplinary violations and had good character references with a low risk of re-offending given the circumstances, he still felt a custodial sentence was necessary and handed down the six month term.

Welcome was arrested following the incident and suspended from duty for some three years until his trial this summer. After his conviction he was dismissed from the service.

The incident was caught on CCTV, and although there was a degree of provocation as Myrie had threatened Welcome and two other off duty officers with a machete, at the time Welcome beat Myrie he was unarmed. The altercation had started among the men when Welcome insulted Myrie’s girlfriend and, the court found, Myrie had then over-reacted with his threats towards the off-duty officers.

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.

During the sentencing hearing, Welcome’s defence attorney, Ben Tonner, had asked the judge not to impose a custodial sentence but to consider a community based sentence and a compensation order because a prison sentence for a former police officer would be even harder since he could be serving alongside people he had arrested.

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Governor tells CS bosses to be politically neutral

Governor tells CS bosses to be politically neutral

| 12/11/2013 | 20 Comments

(CNS): The governor has told civil service managers that they and their staff must remain politically neutral when carrying out their jobs and has also emphasised the need to continue working towards greater accountability in the public sector. Helen Kilpatrick was a guest at the deputy governor’s regular weekly meeting with chief officer at the end of last month, according to the minutes released by Franz Manderson’s office. In addition to the governor’s message, Deloris Gordon from the Internal Audit Unit also joined the weekly gathering to explain what the unit does and how it can help chief officers when it comes to good governance. The COs also agreed to give civil servants an extra hour for lunch this week to attend the relevant Pirates Week heritage days.

With good governance a continuing theme of the governor’s office, at Kilpatrick’s first attendance at the weekly meetings she recognized the work being done to improve accountability across the service. But she emphasized the importance of “holding staff accountable for their performance”, the minutes stated. She also pointed to political neutrality and said that she expected everyone to perform their duties in such a way that “their political neutrality is not compromised”.

The minutes also record discussions about the Voluntary Separation Process, for which the deadline has now passed. The government has not yet revealed how many public sector workers have taken up the offer as the Civil Service Association had warned members against taking what they said was an unfavourable package.

The minutes also record that the move by the Department of Children & Family Services from Britcay House to Commerce House had been approved but there was no indication why this department was not moving into the new Government Administration Building, which is still more than 35% empty.

See minutes as released below.

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Life sentences challenged

Life sentences challenged

| 12/11/2013 | 57 Comments

CNS): A legal application that could see the end of mandatory life sentences in the Cayman Islands for those convicted of murder has been filed in the Grand Court. Ever since the Bill of Rights came into effect last November, experts have been expecting that a legal challenge will come regarding the concept that 'life' means life without the possibility of parole. The Human Rights Commission has indicated that not offering ‘lifers’ the chance of ever being released on licence falls foul of the rights now enshrined in the constitution. The European Court of Human Rights has also ruled that ‘whole life orders’ are incompatible with that Bill of Rights article 3, which is exactly the same as the local article relating to inhumane or degrading punishment, so it is unlikely the practice will survive this challenge.

The petition has been filed by local attorney’s Samson & McGrath on behalf of Tareek Ricketts (22), who was recently convicted of the murder of Jackson Rainford last December and was immediately handed a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

If successful, the petition will be relevant not just to Ricketts, who will then seek a tariff, but to the other 17 prisoners who are facing life sentences.

Ricketts is seeking an order from the court that section 182 of the penal code, which calls for the mandatory life sentence, is incompatible with Article 3 of the Bill of Rights and that the sentence is therefore unlawful.

If successful, the legal application will pave the way for judges to begin setting tariffs for life sentences. In other words, any judge presiding over a sentencing hearing following a guilty verdict in a murder case will be able to indicate the number of years a convicted killer would serve before he is eligible for parole. This does not mean the prisoner would automatically be released on licence after that period but it will open the window of opportunity.

With the Human Rights Commission having already indicated that the mandatory life sentence is unlikely to survive the new human rights regime in Cayman and a clear indication by the European Court that whole life orders are incompatible, there are high expectations that this petition is likely to succeed.

As a result, most of the currently serving lifers will be seeking a tariff for their sentences, which could see at least three prisoners looking at an immediate parole hearing as they have been in prison for more than 25 years. Life tariffs can differ from as short as 15 years to as long as thirty in other jurisdictions, depending on the circumstances of the crime, but the decision to release a prisoner will be down to the parole board.

At present, the only way that a prisoner serving a life sentence can be released on license is at the discretion of the governor under the office’s special powers, as was the recent case with Blandford Dixon, who has been released from Northward and is now on licence.

The petition was filed on 31 October but a hearing date has not yet been fixed.

See legalpetition below.

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Blum presents ideas for Caribbean’s future at UCCI

Blum presents ideas for Caribbean’s future at UCCI

| 12/11/2013 | 12 Comments

(CNS): Jack Blum, one of the United States' leading white-collar attorneys specialising in money laundering, will be the next guest in the University College of the Cayman Islands' Distinguished Lecture Series. Blum, who is an expert in offshore financial issues, has been at the centre of some major international cases, from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) to General Noriega's drug trafficking and Lockheed's overseas bribes. He will be speaking about the economic future for Caribbean islands being led by remittances and the need for a world with open borders for people as well as trade and services.

Blum believes that the world is on the way to preventing the use of sovereignty to block effective enforcement of criminal and tax law. No long term economic plan, he says, can be developed that assumes a future based on legal arbitrage in financial services. During his presentation Blum will pose the question that if arbitrage is out, what can the Islands do to survive economically?

As he says that the economic future of the Caribbean is tied to US, Canadian, and UK immigration law and policy as so many of their people live there. The key source of income for the islands in the future will be remittance money and a free flow of people and open borders with the US, Canada and the UK will enable that future.

Blum has worked for law firms in the areas of bank and securities firm compliance, congressional investigations, international financial crime, money laundering and offshore tax evasion. He has been an expert witness and consultant for various US government agencies and private clients. He served for many years as a US Senate staff attorney, where he was involved in numerous well-known investigations.

Blum has been a consultant to the United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations, the United Nations Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention, and served as the chair of the experts group on international asset recovery, which was convened by the United Nations Centre for Drug Control and Crime Prevention. He often testifies about money laundering and tax evasion before United States congressional committees.

The lecture will take place in Sir Vassel Johnson Hall on the UCCI campus on Thursday, 14 November at 6:00pm.

The UCCI Distinguished Lecture Series is part of pre-event activities related to the UCCI 2014 International Caribbean Conference on Ethics, Values and Morality. For further information, visit or Facebook.

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