Archive for February 25th, 2014

Mistrial in corruption case

| 25/02/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The second trial of a serving police officer who is facing charges of corruption and bribery has ended in a mistrial one day after it started as a result of interpreter problems. Elvis Kelsey Ebanks is accused of asking a suspect, Len Ferraris, for a bribe of more than $500 in order not to pursue a case of theft against him in connection with a mobile phone. However, the complainant is a Filipino national whose first language is Tagalog, so when he took to the witness box Monday he delivered his evidence via an interpreter. But it became increasingly apparent that the interpreter, who is not a professional, was struggling when Ferraris was cross examined.

Those difficulties mounted during Tuesday’s proceedings and when the judge asked the interpreter if he was translating the questions and answers verbatim, the interpreter said no. As a result, defence attorney Amelia Fosuhene from Stenning & Associates raised her concerns and, given the circumstances, it became apparent that the trial could not continue because no one could be sure if the interpreted answers of Ferraris evidence were accurate. Visiting judge, Justice Malcolm Swift therefore declared a mistrial and dismissed the jury.

This is the second time this has happened in Ebanks’ case and for a similar reason. The previous trial also collapsed because of issues relating to the previous interpreter. The suspended cop was bailed to appear in court Monday 3 March when the lawyers will address the need to find a professional Tagalog speaking interpreter who can be employed for what will be the third trial.

Ebanks stands accused of blackmailing Ferraris and asking for $500 to make a potential theft charge go away. The police arrested the RCIPS officer under the anti-corruption law in November 2012 on the day he had allegedly taken the $500 from Ferraris in a sting operation, in which the Filipino national, who was working in Cayman as a janitor, had cooperated with the Anti-corruption Unit. Ferraris met with Ebanks and handed over the money while undercover officers lay in wait. Ebanks has denied the charges and states that the money was a legitimate loan.

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Robbers 11th hour admission

| 25/02/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Two men who were due to stand trial on Monday for the robbery of a Sprint Courier van driver at gun point had an eleventh hour change of heart and have now admitted their part in the daylight heist. Manuel Carter (33) and Brandon Liberal (27) had denied charges of possession of an unlicensed firearm and robbery in connection with the hold-up, which took place in the car park of a local insurance firm in October 2012. Although the men waited until the day of trial and until after a jury had been selected, in the end, after legal discussions with attorneys and before the judge, they made a decision to come clean and pleaded guilty to the robbery.

Carter, from West Bay, who was arrested shortly after the crime and Liberal, who was the last of four men to be charged in the crime last December, entered theirrevised guilty pleas before Justice Charles Quin on Tuesday, after which he dismissed the jury.

The robbery took place at around ten o’clock in the morning on 4 October 2012 outside the offices of BritCay on Eastern Avenue, in George Town, when one man threatened the courier van driver with a semi-automatic pistol and then made off with around $9,000 in cash in a white Mitsubishi. However, in a targeted RCIPS operation less than a week after the daylight hold-up Carter was arrested along with John Cohen-Ebanks (51), also from West Bay, who made immediate confessions to the police and a loaded firearm was recovered.

A month later police also arrested a West Bay teenager, who was charged with the robbery but he is still awaiting a psychiatric report to gauge his fitness to plead. His case was also adjourned on Tuesday and he will be before the court again on 25 April.

Following the guilty pleas of Carter and Liberal Tuesday the court has now set a sentencing hearing for 10 April, when Cohen-Ebanks is expected to join his co-defendants. All three men are each facing at least seven years in jail as a result of the mandatory firearms minimum sentence.

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Kilpatrick to be Cayman’s first female scout boss

| 25/02/2014 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Whether or not she will be bob a jobbing next week remains to be seen but on Sunday the Cayman Islands governor will be prepared to be sworn inas the first ever female scout leader. Traditionally the governor of any overseas territory is sworn in as chief scout and as a man, has until now, always held that job while his wife would usually be sworn in as the guides leader. However, Helen Kilpatrick will make history when she becomes Cayman’s and possibly the Caribbean’s first woman chief scout as this year’s scout week opens at the Founder’s Day Service on 2 March at Elmslie Memorial church in George Town.

A number of events including the world famous bob-a-job will take place throughout the week as the Cayman Islands scouting association celebrates the adventure group which was founded by Robert Baden-Powell over a hundred years ago in the UK and has since spread round the world.

As well as bob a job and community service day scouts will be taking part in a basketball competition and the week’s activities will culminate in the campfire at Savannah Playfield, Pedro Castle Road.

For more details of scouts week and other events relating to the scouts association throughout the year see below.

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3 acting magistrates to help plug court gaps

| 25/02/2014 | 10 Comments

CNS): As a result of Cayman’s growing criminal case load, three new acting magistrates have been appointed to the local bench who will be able to sit in summary court cases when the need arises. Philippa McFarlane-Ebanks (left), Angelyn Hernandez and Adam Roberts were sworn in by the governor on Friday (21 February), officials said, ahead of the training programme which will begin in the coming weeks. The acting magistrates, who were welcomed by the chief justice, will start training in the coming weeks and will soon be presiding in both criminal and civil matters in the lower courts.

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie said he was delighted by the appointment of three very capable, experienced and highly regarded professionals from within the local community. He said they would bring a wealth of practical experience “to the difficult and demanding” task.

“Our summary courts are exceptionally busy courts and it is a great asset to be able to support the full time magistrates with five acting magistrates, who can be called on as the need arises,” he said.

McFarlane Ebanks has been an Associate at Kobre and Kim (Cayman) law firm since December 2012. She previously served for three years as a Senior Associate with Bodden & Bodden Litigation. Prior to that, she was a Crown Prosecutor in the UK for eight years. A graduate of Dalhousie University, with a BA in political science, McFarlane studied law at the University of Liverpool, graduating with first class honours. She was called to the Bar of England and Wales following studies at the Inns of Court School of Law.

“I am very proud to have been appointed as an Acting Magistrate of the summary court, and will do my utmost to serve the Cayman Islands to the best of my ability,” she said.

Hernandez (right), who comes with almost 24 years of public and private practice experience, added that it was a “humbling appointment” and she was honoured and grateful to be given the opportunity to serve. She holds an LLB from the University of the West Indies and a Master’s in Law from Queen Mary's College, University of London.

A Crown Counsel prior to entering private practice with Quin & Hampson, she was a partner there for 15 years. For the past five years she served in her own practice, Hernandez & Co.

Roberts, who has been serving as Legal Adviser to the Financial Reporting Authority, has served as a Crown Counsel for most of his working career.  “I am thrilled to have been invited to sit as Acting Magistrate,” Roberts said. “I have spent nearly all my adult life in the criminal justice system and have made Cayman my home since 1991. I see this as a way of using my experience and for me to give back to the community.”

Before starting with the Financial Reporting Unit in 2008 Roberts served with the Cayman Island Government Legal Department as a prosecutor, joining as a prosecutor in 1991. He was appointed Senior Crown Counsel (Criminal) in 1998 and holds an LLB from Manchester University.

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Shetty hospital officially open

| 25/02/2014 | 44 Comments

(CNS) Updated: Dr Shetty announced that the first patient at Health City Cayman Islands will be treated at the hospital on 10 March, as hundreds of people crowded into a massive marquee in front of the new facility in East End Tuesday morning to watch the official opening of what is billed as the launch of Cayman's third economic pillar. The idea of medical tourism is one that has been discussed in the Cayman Islands for decades but the opening of Health City, will be seen as the moment the idea began a reality, according to Mark Scotland, the former health minister who steered the project in its early days. Scotland was one of a dozen speakers that appeared on the podium to celebrate the opening of the much anticipated 140-bed tertiary care facility.

Speaking to the media after the opening ceremony, Gene Thompson, the local partner in the venture, said that the first pateint has not yet been identified but would likely be a paying customer. However, they would be treating as many non-paying charitable patients as possible. He said the goal is for the facility to reach 20% patient capacity within the first six months.

Ninety-four staff have already been hired for the hosptial, almost all of them seconded from Dr Shetty's hosptal in Bangalore, India, and 35 of whom are already on island. Staff will include 19 doctors who are expereinced in the specialties that will be offered at the hospital as well as 38 nurses. Thompson said that 40 to 42 Caymanians would also be hired as support staff.

With the continued goal of ultimately having a 2,000-bed hospital, Thompson said the build out would depend on growth. Patients are expected to come from the Caribbean, the US and the region, he said, though the numbers are as yet unknown. While the project is in the initial stage funded by shareholders, the goal is for the hospital to be economically sustainable within six months.

Tuesday provided an opportunity for all of those involved in the development of the project from inception to opening to celebrate what is a significant achievement.

Check back to CNS later today for more coverage from the opening of the hospital and the promised start of the local economy's much anticipated third pillar.

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LIME CEO says customer service must improve

| 25/02/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): LIME Cayman Islands needs to provide significant improvement in the area of customer service, the new CEO, Bill McCabe told CNS Business in this week's video interview. He said it was clear that the company had some great infrastructure and great networks in place but "the whole customer service area" needs improving. They have already begun to make changes, he said, so that when customers in Cayman phone the call centre they now get through far quicker than they did even two months ago. The call centre is based off-island because that means greater efficiencies for LIME but people complain that the customer service staff "don't know what it's like to be in Cayman" and they get frustrated when they call. Read more on CNS Business

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Government spends $60k on new GT loos

| 25/02/2014 | 31 Comments

(CNS): The tourism ministry is investing sixty thousand dollars of this year’s budget to help out tourists who get caught short while visiting the capital. Government officials revealed Monday that the ministry is in the process of providing “much needed relief to visitors and shoppers” in downtown George Town with the development of permanent public restrooms. The new 288 Square foot public facilities which are under construction behind the GT library, adjacent to the bus depot, will provide separate male and female loos with wheelchair access.

On 20 February, tourism counsellor Joseph Hew, who was acting as tourism minister in the absence of the Deputy Premier, Moses Kirkconnell who was at a tourism conference, visited the site to evaluate the progress. 

“Public rest rooms are a basic amenity that have been conspicuously absent from the George Town area for many years and I am pleased that is now being rectified,” Hew said. “The new facilities are centrally located in a part of town that receives a great deal of pedestrian traffic and will therefore be a welcomed addition to the area. On busy cruise ship days in particular, passengers will be able to continue shopping and enjoying the sights, rather than having to return to the North or South Terminals when nature calls. ”

Caystar Construction was awarded the building contract following an open tender process which concluded in December. Construction is expected to be completed in June 2014 at a cost of $60,000 which is budgeted for in FY2013/14.

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Troubled youth treatment centre eyes Cayman

| 25/02/2014 | 21 Comments

(CNS): A Canadian couple whose unlicensed youth treatment centre was shut down by the authorities in British Columbia may be seeking to set up a new rehabilitation centre for troubled youngsters in the Cayman Islands. However, it is unlikely to solve any of Cayman’s young offender problems. David (left) and Susan Kenney are facing at least four law suits from different families who say their children were bullied, abused and mistreated while in the care of the couple at the NeurVana Recovery and Wellness centre, which charged thousands of dollars a week to treat the young people placed there.

The centre advertised the use of advanced neuro-technology to "harmonize the brains" of the youths it treats for a range of problems from self harming to drug misuse.

Reports from Canada suggest the Kenneys, who have relatives in Cayman according to local sources, are now attempting to create a new centre here by the spring despite having had their Canadian centre closed down the legal difficulties over the law suits. The legal action taken by the families involved allege various incidences of abuse, breach of contract, fraud and negligence at the former residential treatment facility which was located in Kelowna. From forcing vegetarians to eat meat to withholding medication from teen patients the law suits accuse the couple of numerous types of abuse and bullying none of which has yet been proven.

Concerns were raised by the families through their lawyers that the couple had not only left Canada in the face of the allegations and the sudden closure of the facility but were attempting to start the same kind of centre somewhere else. 

The Kenneys, who say they have worked with children in various places for 20 years have via their attorney denied all of the allegations.

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Cop corruption trial re-opens

| 25/02/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A police officer accused of blackmailing a potential suspect in a stolen phone case returned to the dock Monday to face trial once again more than eight months after his first trial was adjourned as a result of legal problems and potential prejudice. Elvis Ebanks is accused of taking a bribe from a Filipino national in exchange for not arresting him in connection with the possible theft of a cell phone. As the case reopened, Ebanks once again heard his accuser, via an interpreter, tell the court and a jury that the police officer had asked him for over $500 not to pursue a case of theft against him.

Len Ferraris, who gave evidence against the officer, claimed he had found the cell phone on a bench when he was visiting the Auto-spa car wash in Red Bay, George Town. He put the red Blackberry phone in his pocket and then three days later, when he had cracked the pass code, he put his own SIM card into the handset. Once he did that and began using the phone the owner of the handset managed to trace it. Following a meeting at the Auto-Spa between the owner, the police officer on trial and Ferraris, who handed the phone back, the owner said he did not wish to take the case any further.

With the phone returned to its rightful owner, Ebanks was then tasked with taking Ferraris home. But the court heard that it was during this journey that he allegedly threatened the Filipino national with ten years in jail over the stolen phone and asked for money. Denying he had stolen the phone and insisting he had found it, Ferraris told the court he was scared.  With only a few dollars on him at the time, Ferraris, who believed he was looking at a decade behind bars, agreed to try and find the $500 that he says Ebanks wanted and told him he would have the cash by Wednesday.

Although Ferraris told the court that the police officer ordered him to remain quiet about the money, the man, who was working as a janitor at the time earning just CI$700 per month, told family members, who in turn contacted the police. The RCIPS then recorded phone conversations between Ferraris and Ebanks and organised to be at the meeting where the cash exchange eventually took place at Countryside Shopping Centre in Savannah.  Shortly after Ebanks was arrested and later charged with bribery and breach of public trust.
Ebanks denied the allegations, stating that the man had offered a legitimate loan.

Following the evidence in chief Ferraris was cross examined by Ebanks’ defence attorney ,Amelia Fosuhene from Stenning & Associates, who pressed Ferraris to admit he had stolen the phone in the first place and highlighted a number of inconsistencies with his testimony.
Struggling to cross examine through an interpreter, the attorney questioned Ferraris  about his status on the island and he admitted that although he had a work permit with the company he was working for as a janitor, he had also been working on the side at the auto-spa without a permit. 

The trial continues Tuesday in court one before a jury and visiting judge Justice Swift.

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