Archive for November 6th, 2014

Driver acquitted in death case

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(CNS): A woman who was facing a five year jail term for causing death by dangerous driving walked away from the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal Thursday with her named cleared after her conviction was overturned. Dorlisa Piercy was found guilty earlier this year of killing Karen Edwards and her unborn child in an East End road smash in August 2011, caused by her driving at a high speed. However, the crown did not oppose an appeal brought by defence attorney Lucy Organ on Piercy’s behalf, as a result of the trial judge’s error over the speed. The lawyer said the judge was wrong to find dangerous driving as there was no expert evidence to support the accusation of excessive speed.

While not opposing the appeal, the crown had argued that Piercy should stand trial again on the same charges, despite the problems it had with its expert witnesses.

One was found not to be an expert and the second, although accepted as an expert in some elements of accident reconstruction, was not accepted as an expert in assessing speed.

As speed was the fundamental issue in the case, the crown had an uphill struggle to argue that it was entitled to try Piercy again without having the witnesses accepted as experts or call new evidence.

As a result, the panel of three judges allowed the appeal and rejected the crown’s application for a second trial. The judges said that the major reason for the decision was because speedwas the critical factor and the crown did not have any evidence to prove the car was travelling at high speed.

Commenting on behalf of the appeal court panel, Sir Bernard Rix said that crown had “an extremely weak case” as it stood and any effort to have the second witness calculate the speed would be the same as having a new expert witness. Quoting from authorities, he explained why the crown could not be allowed a second chance to make good on earlier errors.

“In my judgment it would not be in the interests of justice to permit a retrial,” he added and the conviction was quashed.

During her trial Piercy, who had also been severely injured in the fatal crash, claimed she was not the driver but she had also argued that whoever was behind the wheel was not driving fast.

Edwards, who was seven months pregnant at the time, was one of three passengers in the car when the collision occurred. After the car hit a palm tree she was thrown from the vehicle and killed. Piercy and the front passenger were also very badly hurt, while one woman walked away from the wreck almost unscathed.

Piercy had persistently denied being the driver, stating that the owner of the car, Priscilla Smith, had been at the wheel when the accident happened. However, during the trial the court heard that Smith was cut out of the car at the scene from the front passenger side. The judge found that Piercy was the driver and found her guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

Piercy was taken into custody immediately after she was sentenced but was bailed a short time later pending the appeal.

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Case opens against courier accused of stealing gold

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(CNS): The crown stated that Evan Robinson stole thousands of dollars worth of gold from Cash Wiz between November 2011 and March 2012 when his trial opened Wednesday. The court heard that Robinson not only stole some $30,000 worth of gol, but pawned a little under half of it for personal gain. Robinson was the main Federal Express courier Cash Wiz called upon to deliver its packages destined for US refineries. The court heard that Cash Wiz employees became concerned by the inconsistencies in the packages delivered by Robinson and accused him of being the cause, which at the time he admitted but he has since denied the accusations.

In her opening statement to the jury, crown prosecutor Toyin Salako described how Cash Wiz’s gold items were sealed and delivered through Federal Express. It was confirmed that in order for a package to be sent, the gold items must be sealed in a plastic bag, wrapped in a sealed box, and again wrapped in another sealed FedEx box. The lawyer explained that if the boxes and bag were opened, they could not be resealed as before and the boxes have to be replaced.

The US refinery informed Cash Wiz of inconsistencies in the weight of gold from when they are packaged to their destination. As a result, the firm came up with a plan to find out what was going on. In order to determine if the same box that was sent arrived at the refinery, the inside of a package containing gold was marked with a yellow highlighter pen for the refinery to identify once it was delivered.

Robinson was the courier to deliver this package. The court heard that after the refinery had received the package with no mark present, the assumption was that Robinson, being the main Federal Express courier for Cash Wiz, stole the gold.

The case presented against Robinson was that he stole some gold and repackaged the rest in boxes provided by Fed Ex. The Cash Wiz employees, assuming Robinson was the thief, confronted him on the phone about the missing gold. The court heard that Robinson began apologizing and went to the company’s office to talk it over.

At the office, Robinson admitted stealing gold from packages he delivered as well as pawning some of the gold he had stolen. Robinson then left Cash Wiz, and upon returning brought 10 gold pieces back valued around CI $8,000. An employee at the office recorded Robinson on video admitting to stealing and showing items he had stolen. He left Cash Wiz soon afterwards.

After this confrontation, a complaint was filed to Federal Express and the police were called. Robinson was arrested and interviewed by the RCIPS. In his interview he denied stealing or pawning any gold from Cash Wiz and stated that he was forced to do so in order to save his job. The prosecution claimed that Robinson admitted to stealing and pawning gold from Cash Wiz because that is what he did.

Robinson is charged with stealing $31,000 worth of gold from Cash Wiz and pawning $11,790 worth of the gold that he is alleged to have stolen.

He has denied all charges and his trial will continue later this week.

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Brother charged in BT attack

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(CNS) Updated: Police have now charged the 49 year old Bodden Town man who was arrested on Monday in the aftermath of a brutal attack on his brother with a machete. Easton Russell appeared in court on Thursday afternoon charged with attempted murder and assault occasioning  grievous bodily harm. He was remanded in custody until 21 November, when the case will be heard in Grand Court. Meanwhile, his victim and brother, Carlos Renton Russell, has undergone emergency surgery and, according to the police, remains in a very serious but stable condition at the George Town Hospital.

Police have not yet revealed any further details regarding the attack on Russell on Tuesday morning but it is understood to have occurred at his home near Kipling Street and relates to an on-going dispute between the two brothers. Police arrested Russell’s brother at the scene.

Carlos Russell was released from jail some time ago, having served part of an 11-year sentence in 2006 for the manslaughter of Philip Watler the year before, following an escalation of gang violence.

Originally charged with murder, the jury found Russell guilty of manslaughter as they accepted that he had shot Watler in retaliation for an alleged attack on Russell’s home the night before.

Watler was said to be one of two men who fired multiple shots at Russell’s house with an M16 assault rifle and a nine millimetre hand-gun when he was home with his wife and children. The court heard during the trial that at least 27 shots were fired at the home, some of which went through the walls of rooms where the children were sleeping.

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Haitian kids get heart surgery at Shetty hospital

| 06/11/2014 | 16 Comments

(CNS): Following the commitment by Dr Devi Shetty before Health City Cayman Islands opened that it would offer life-saving operations to children in need from around the region free of charge, four young Haitian patients returned home last week after successful heart operations. The youngsters, aged between 6 and 16, travelled to Cayman last month for the vital surgeries performed by the Shetty hospital’s surgeons led by Dr Binoy Chattuparambil, a senior cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon, and Dr. Sripadh Upadhya, a senior paediatric cardiologist. The children were identified by Haiti Cardiac Alliance, a US-based charity, as being in desperate need of the heart operations.

Owen Robinson, Executive Director of Haiti Cardiac Alliance, said there are more than 200 children on its surgical waiting list, a number that grows by the week.

"Half have conditions that can't be dealt with in Haiti because they are too complex. These young people may also need intensive care after surgery. We are so excited to be working with Health City because we knew they would have the facilities and abilities that we don't have in Haiti right now."

Robinson said the surgeries went incredibly well and the young people were up and about soon after surgery, eating, smiling and relieved they were through the ordeal.

"Staff at Health City were incredible, not only within the hospital, but they also went shopping for toys and snacks for the children," Robinson said. "They went out of their way to make the patients feel at home."

Dr Chandy Abraham, Medical and Facility Director at Health City, said when his team met with Haiti Cardiac Alliance last year they realised the need.

“Haiti Cardiac Alliance does a tremendous job in pushing hard to scale up surgical opportunities in Haiti and overseas, and we were privileged to assist them in reaching their goal of helping those in critical need of help," he added.

The surgeries were the first performed under Health City's partnership with Have a Heart, a philanthropic organisation formed in 2000 by Harry Chandi and Manu Chatlani. Digicel, also facilitated transportation for the young patients and their parents to and from the Cayman Islands.

Raul Nicholson-Coe, Chief Operating Officer with Digicel Cayman, said the company was committed to giving back to the communities where it operates and he said he hoped this was the beginning of a much wider initiative. Owen Robinson said Digicel's contribution was significant.

"Without the use of the company's plane the youngsters would have needed to travel via the United States and would require transit visas – adding thousands of more dollars in airfares which was not a viable option," he said.

Gene Thompson said Have a Heart Cayman looked forward to extending its charitable offering to many others in dire need.

"It's a blessing to see how much better those children were when then left Cayman and the new lease on life they had," he said.

See video about the surgeries here

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Musical judge brings new tone to court of appeal

| 06/11/2014 | 9 Comments

(CNS): As the first week of a busy schedule for the winter Court of Appeal draws to a close, local attorney’s appearing before the judges will also have seen Sir Bernard Rix sitting on the bench for the first time. Sir Bernard, a recently retired Lord Justice of Appeal with 20 years experience in the Commercial Court and Court of Appeal of England and Wales, was sworn in on Monday after being appointed over one year ago. As well as having a long legal career Rix is also a musical aficionado, having sung in Richard Strauss’ opera Der Rosenkavalier at the English National Opera in London and having spent 30 years as a director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.  

However, it is his talents as a legal expert that are required to assist with the winter session’s appeal court list. Chief Justice Anthony Smellie said it was an honour to be able to welcome Sir Bernard as a member of Cayman’s judiciary.

“Sir Bernard is a distinguished jurist who has made a very significant contribution to the development of British jurisprudence.”  The country’s top judge said that he looked forward to similar “important contributions he will certainly make to the development of Cayman Islands’ jurisprudence". He added, "I hope that he and Lady Rix will enjoy their times spent in Cayman.”

Officials said his specialization in commercial law will be important for Cayman's appeal court with the financial cases. however, over the remaining winter session he will be concentrating on criminal appeals.

Commenting on his new appointment, he said, "It is a wonderful job, for all its hardships and difficulties, to be asked to think about the problems of people.”

Happy that he is not only serving as a judge on the appeal court panel but that he is doing so in the Caribbean, he said, “I spent some happy times in the Caribbean on holidays."

Other members of the appeal court are Sir John Chadwick, who is president, and Justices Elliott Mottley, John Martin and Sir George Newman.  Justices sit in three’s for three sessions each year, each of which tends to be for three weeks.

See more details below.

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Anglin faces murder retrial

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(CNS): A West Bay man who was acquitted of killing 4-year-old Jeremiah Barnes at a local gas station in February 2010 will be retried. Devon Anglin is now expected to return to the dock for a second trial for murder some time next year, when the crown will once again attempt to prove that he was the masked gunman who opened fire at the Barnes family car at the Hell Road gas station in West Bay, shooting the child. The appeal court allowed the crown’s appeal against the 2011 verdict of a visiting judge as it found he was wrong not to consider all of the other evidence when he opted to dismiss the testimony from the child's parents, Dorlisa and Andy Barnes, who had both identified Anglin as the shooter.

Check back to CNS for more on this story later.

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Supergrass to go free

| 06/11/2014 | 48 Comments

(CNS): After almost two and half years in solitary confinement Marlon Dillon is expected to be released from jail over the next few days after he was handed a three year jail term Thursday for his part in two 2012 armed robberies. Labeled a supergrass by his own defence attorney, Dillon was the key witness not only against his accomplices in the Cayman National Bank and WestStar robberies but also in the case against Brian Borden for the murder of Mackford Bush. In all three trials prosecutors said they secured convictions because of his evidence. However, Dillon has placed himself and his family in grave danger as a result of that help to the police.

The judge explained that he had given Dillon a substantial discount for his contribution to solving the exceptionally serious crimes but said he still had to balance punishment against reward, as he sentenced him to three years. After serving  more than two years and five months in virtual isolation under armed police guard, It is expected that Dillon will be released shortly.

However, what will happen to Dillon now as a result of his super-informer status is unknown. With a conviction now recorded against Dillion it may prove difficult for him to join his family.

His wife and children were removed to an undisclosed overseas jurisdiction following Dillon’s arrest in 2012, when he began making a full confession and telling police all he knew about Cayman’s criminal underworld. Dillon is considered by the authorities to be at risk of his life and he will need to remain under witness protection for the rest of his life.

Check back to CNS for more on this story later.

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Child’s funeral open to community

| 06/11/2014 | 5 Comments

(CNS): The father of 6-year-old Bethany Butler has made the arrangements for his daughter’s funeral public. The service will be held on Sunday 9 November at 1:00pm at Kings Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church, Walkers Road, George Town and the body can be viewed between 12 noon and 12:45pm. The burial will then take place at the new Bodden Town Cemetery, on Bodden Town Road. Bethany’s father, Lenford Butler, who is a sergeant in the RCIPS, said he is aware that several people in the community would like to attend. Bethany’s mother, who was arrested after her daughter’s body was found in a car in East End on 27 October, has been detained in hospital under the mental health act.

The child died as a result of multiple stab wounds. Tamara Butler was arrested on suspicion of killing her daughter when police found her in the area near to the car in which police found Bethany’s body. 

Tamara Butler had attempted to take her own life and because of the state of her mental health Has not yet been interviewed by police.

Police continue to appeal for witnesses who may have seen the light coloured SUV sometime in the early hours of Monday 27 October, either in Savannah or the High Rock and Queen’s Highway areas of East End.

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Traffic to be diverted for mock airport emergency

| 06/11/2014 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Police are warning drivers that there will be traffic disruptions this morning as the airport undertakes its annual emergency safety exercise. Diversions will be in place from 9am until noon along Crewe Road near the Rubis Gas Station (Jose’s) west toward the Smith Road and Walker’s Road junction, the CNB roundabout on Elgin Avenue and the Crewe Road – Owen Robert’s Drive intersection. The full scale emergency exercise will see the vehicles involved traversing the mentioned road ways to and from the airfield at Owen Roberts International Airport. West bound traffic on Shamrock Road are advised after 9:00am to use South Sound Road, South Church Street or Walker’s Road into Central George Town.

Motorist are advised to avoid the area if possible and east bound traffic from Central George Town are also advised to use Walker’s Road, South Sound heading toward the eastern districts. Police said the diversions are in the best interest of public safety and uniform police officers will be on hand to assist the motoring public.

The exercise is being organized by the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) and involves all local emergency responders. Code named “The Real Deal” the mock plane smash will be staged near the Airport.

This year’s exercise will focus on the rendering of appropriate emergency services in order to save life and property and the importance of taking care of the family and friends of plane crash victims during the immediate aftermath of the incident.

“Recent incidents have revealed that often times victims’ family members who are at the airport during the time of the incident are not given up to date information on their loved ones because emergency responders are focused on dealing with the crisis,” the CIAA’s senior manager, safety management systems and the chairman of the Airport Emergency Planning Committee, said.“However, we would like that to change and we will do our best to ensure the victims’ families are treated with due respect and are well informed throughout the whole process up to and including the time they are reunited with their loved ones.”

The goal of this type of exercise is to test the readiness of emergency responders to handle an aircraft accident and form an organized response in those critical first moments, which could mean the difference between life and death.

The Airport Emergency Planning Committee comprises of representatives from CIAA, Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting Services, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Health Services Authority and Hazard Management Cayman Islands.

“The committee has been working feverishly over the past few weeks to ensure every detail of the simulation is as close to reality as possible,” McLaughlin added.

The Cayman Islands Red Cross, Government Information Services, Public Safety Communications Centre, 9-1-1, the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps and airline partners will also assist the committee during the emergency exercise.

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Driver rear ends governor’s car

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(CNS): Police have confirmed that the Cayman Islands governor was involved in a road prang Wednesday lunchtime when the official car was rear ended by a driver in a Chevrolet Impala travelling on the West Bay Road. An RCIPS spokesperson said the governor’s Lincoln Continental was hit from behind as it travelled south towards George Town at around 1:35pm on Wednesday 5 November close to 7 Mile Shops. Governor Helen Kilpatrick was travelling in the car at the time but she was said to be unhurt in what appeared to be a minor collision.

The driver of the Impala, which was behind the governor’s car and heading in the same direction, was also unhurt in the smash. However, both vehicles sustained minor damage and the collision is now under investigation by uniform officers from the George Town Police Stations.

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