Archive for December 18th, 2013

Inmate accuses prison officers of supplying ganja

| 18/12/2013 | 20 Comments

(CNS): An inmate from HMP Northward pointed the finger at prison officers as the source of drug smuggling at the country’s jail when he pleaded guilty in Summary Court Tuesday to possession of a small quantity of ganja. Leighton Rankine (37), who is convicted of a firearms offence, received an additional 30 days on his 13 year sentence when he admitted to having around half an ounce of thedrug concealed in his glasses case. The drugs were discovered by prison staff when they escorted him to the hospital for medical treatment in August. Following his plea to the charge, when asked for an explanation he implied that the drugs had come from prison officers.

“When the officers stop smuggling it in to the jail and stop selling it to the prisoners, then we will stop smoking it,” he said.

Noting that there was no evidence before the court to support his claim, Magistrate Kirstyann Gunn said that regardless of the source of the ganja or how it became available to him, Rankine still had a choice whether to use the drug or not and he had opted to have it in his possession. Giving him credit for his guilty plea and noting that it was his first offence of this nature in the prison, she said the fact that it was found on him while he was serving a prison sentence was an aggravating factor.

The magistrate said that the level of smuggling and use of drugs in the local prison was a serious concern and as a result there was a need to deter other prisoners as well as Rankine from using the drug in jail as it undermined the rule of law. Handing down her sentence, she added thirty days to Rankine’s current thirteen years, which he received in connection with a shooting outside a West Bay Road night spot.

Rankine, who is a father of four, was accused and convicted on counts of assault, wounding with intent, unlawful use of a firearm and the possession of an unlicensed firearm after a trial in June. The charges related to a fight and then a shooting in the area of the Grand Pavilion parking lot. He escaped an attempted murder rap because the judge decided that he had not intended to kill anyone when he opened fire in the car park during the altercation.

Meanwhile, a second inmate serving time for robbery, who was charged over possession of a much larger quantity of ganja, pleaded guilty but claimed he knew nothing about the drug found in his cell, which he shared with others.

When Jonathan Welcome gave his explanation over the discovery of three packages of ganja in his possession, Magistrate Gunn pointed out that if that was the case he must plead not guilty. However, Welcome was insistent that he take the wrap for the drugs. He said he just wanted to get it over with because he did not want to come back to courtand asked the magistrate to sentence him.

Given the legal implications, however, Gunn ordered the matter to be placed before another court in order to deal with the issue afresh.

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NGO shapes up blighted skateboard park

| 18/12/2013 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Once a private sector venture, the Black Pearl Skate Park in Grand Harbour is now in the hands of the Cayman Islands Skateboard Association, a non-profit organization, which will be hosting a major jam this Christmas to raise more funds. The largest park in the region and North America, it is now used by hundreds of local kids every week under the supervision of the association chair, Michael Myles, the education ministry’s at-risk youth coordinator. The park had been blighted by vandalism, bullying, drugs and bad behavior and there was a clear need to improve standards for the students of the skateboard club. Volunteers have now cleaned up the park, removed the graffiti, repaired the fencing and they now man the facility.

After being taken over by the new non-profit organization, a new vision was established and the missions is to "maintain a world class skate park in the Cayman Islands; to keep the park a healthy, safe environment, free of graffiti and litter while fostering self-confidence, good health, strength and pride with the youth of our islands.”

The association has also established a skateboard shop, which rents equipment and conducts daily memberships. Since taking over the park in July 2013, it has attracted over 500 participants, many of them young people who participate monthly. 

With two successful competitions in September and November, with over 30 competitors at each one, the park is following up with a Christmas Skate Jam. Professional skateboarder Chet Thomas is flying in to spend some one-on-one time with the local skateboarders, pass on some of his skills and experience, as well as be a guest judge for the competition. 

Myles explained that skateboarding provides an outlet for young people which keeps them out of trouble, off the streets and involved in fun, constructive activities. He said it was an avenue to reach potentially at-risk youngsters and get them on the right path.

Myles stated that the association has encouraged the employment of young aspiring skateboarders because it enables them to be mentors and coaches at the park. 

Jon-Mikol Rankin (18) is one of these young aspiring skateboarders who have been recruited to work at the park. He is a talented athlete who mentors youngsters and ensures they follow the right safety measures. Myles stated that young men like Rankin must be provided with the opportunity to showcase their skill and become positive role models. 

Rankin has also established a business selling skateboards at the shop, while aspiring to become a professional skateboarder and broaden his business talent with more retail products, such as clothing, bikes and scooters.

Myles said that these are the avenues that must be supported to help youngsters and he hoped other young people would follow Rankin's example. 

"My aim is to be the first professional skateboarder from the Cayman Islands," Rankin said, adding that he was also interested inhelping younger skaters progress in the sport.

Myles said many generous donors and well-wishers have assisted in the development of the association and the park and he was hoping to be able to light the park at night to keep it in use longer and enhance the international standards of many youngsters and encourage competitions.

The association is hoping raise approximately $15,000 to buy the lights and additional  equipment for the park. With the visit by Chet Thomas this Christmas, Myles said he hoped the pro-skater from California will help support the new vision of the association and park.

Anyone who would like to help can contact the park at 947-4161 or or visit the webpage at  

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National Trust repaints vandalized bird sanctuary

| 18/12/2013 | 6 Comments

(CNS):  At a time when Cayman’s politicians, environmentalists, nature lovers as well as detractors were focused on conservation, one of Grand Cayman’s much-loved bird-watching spots was vandalized. The National Trust for the Cayman Islands told CNS that the graffiti appeared on the cabana at the Governor Michael Gore’s Bird Sanctuary in Spotts Newlands sometime over the last month, after the Trust staff had last inspected the protected area it manages. Photos were taken of the profanities and graffiti on posts and the Trust confirmed that it intended to report the matter to police before it repainted the area where visitors can sitand take in the tranquil pond from the lookout deck and enjoy the variety of birds that pass through.

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Staff shake-up at Airports Authority

| 18/12/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): The Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) Board has announced plans for a major shake-up and has confirmed that Kerith McCoy is no longer the authority's acting chief executive officer. CNS sent enquiries to the board, the minister responsible and senior staff at the beginning of December about staffing changes and speculation that McCoy had been removed from his post, and we were informed by Board Chair Kirkland Nixon on 2 December that McCoy was on annual leave. On Tuesday, the new acting CEO, Andrew McLaughlin, released a statement on behalf of the CIAA confirming that McCoy was still on leave but that he would be returning to a new post in the New Year. Read more on CNS Business

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