Archive for November 25th, 2014

Haines hopes for final surge ahead of last leg

| 25/11/2014 | 7 Comments

(CNS): As Derek Haines limbers up and prepares for the final marathon in his incredible challenge, the veteran distance runner is hoping for a run on donations for his fundraising goal. Earlier this year Haines set himself an almighty task to raise $1 million in order to build an inpatient care facility for the local hospice charity. Now, having completed five marathons around the world, his sixth and final leg of the challenge will be on home soil on Sunday 7 December. But with just eleven days to go, Haines still needs a further $180k to be pledged to meet the target. Having pounded the pavements in Europe and the US to generate over $820,000, the goal is almost in sight.

Hoping to inspire the community, Val Strang has written a short poem (posted below) in support of Haines as many of the marathonman’s friends are rallying to help rustle up the necessary donations to reach the million dollar mark.

Haines has completed marathons in Paris, London, Pamplona, San Francisco and Dublin and will run in front of a home crowd on 7 December.

“As I come over the tape in the marathon I want to know that we’ve also come over the tape in the million dollars,” Haines recently said, as he urged people to help make what seemed like a pie-in-the-sky dream at the start of the year a reality.

For more informaiton or to make a donation go to

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CIG to reveal plans with annual policy address

| 25/11/2014 | 5 Comments

(CNS): When the country’s legislators return to the parliament on Wednesday morning, the Progressives will be delivering a Strategic Policy Statement covering the forthcoming budget years of 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18, government officials have confirmed. The meeting will also include debates on the Summary Jurisdiction (amendment) Bill, the Second-hand Dealers Bill, the Trade and Business Licensing Bill, as well as the Development and Planning (amendment) Regulations 2014 to go with the controversial law that was passed during the last meeting. In addition to a number of financial reports, government will be answering parliamentary questions and dealing with private members' motions.

Officials stated that the SPS will outline the PPM government’s medium term fiscal plans and policy priorities that will guide the 2015-16 budget, which is expected to be delivered in May or June next year.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 10am and it is open to the public.

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Caribbean begins to win HIV/AIDS fight

| 25/11/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Although the Cayman Island has always had a relatively low rate of people infected and living with HIV, the battle against the virus is also beginning to be won in the region as a whole, even though it once had the second highest infection rates in the world.According to regional health officials, there has been a 49 per cent decline in HIV within the Caribbean and an improved quality of life for people living with HIV and AIDS. 90% of pregnant women receive services to prevent mother-to-child transmission, and patients now benefit from enhanced health systems and a scale-up of prevention, treatment, care and support services and access to affordable medicines.

Cayman Islands Health Minister Osbourne Bodden and the medical officer of health both attended the 13th Annual General Meeting of the Pan Caribbean Partnership (PANCAP) Against HIV and AIDS in Guadeloupe earlier this month, where plans to eliminate the virus by 2030 were discussed.

The two-day meeting, which takes place every two years, focused on the topic "Positioning the Partnership for Post 2015". A four-year plan for a regional strategic framework was endorsed and strategies to achieve universal access to prevention, treatment and care were identified.

Minister Bodden said, “The meeting offered an opportunity to share experiences with regional counterparts in order to improve our combined efforts. I am also excited to see the improvement in regional results which indicates that we are in fact making progress towards an AIDS-free Caribbean.” 

Targets to reduce HIV infections by 2020 include the goal that 90 per cent of those with HIV will be aware of their status, 90 per cent of those who are HIV positive will receive affordable healthcare, and 90 per cent of those on treatment will have undetectable viral loads. These objectives are seen as the necessary steps to take toward the goal of ending AIDS by 2030. 

Bodden added that the Cayman’s health ministry was committed to providing whatever support it takes to achieve these targets.

“I was delighted to learn that our prevalence is very low compared to other countries in the region. I commend the Public Health Department, Cayman AIDS Foundation and the Cayman Islands Red Cross for working collaboratively to enable our islands’ residents access to free testing- and I urge the public to continue to take advantage of this opportunity,” he added.

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Men acquitted of bank job seek to get out of jail

| 25/11/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Three men whose convictions in Cayman’s largest ever bank robbery were quashed by the Court of Appeal last week have applied to get out of jail after more than two years behind bars. On Friday David Tamasa, Rennie Cole and George Mignott will appear before a Grand Court judge, who will hear their application for bail. The three men were all convicted of armed robbery following the daylight heist at the Cayman National Bank in Buckingham Square in June 2011, in which over half a million dollars was taken. But a technical irregularity at the trial last year regarding warnings over their failure to give evidence has seen their convictions overturned, their lengthy sentences set aside and a new trial ordered.

Tamasa, from West Bay, the man police believe was the mastermind behind the robbery and who supplied the weapons, was serving a fourteen-year sentence for his part in the CNB heist as well as another armed robbery at the WestStar TV offices. However, he was also acquitted in that case and due to a number of factors, the appeal court did not order a re-trial.

With no previous convictions, the 34-year-old will be hoping to get bail because as it stands now, although still charged with the bank robbery, he has no convictions recorded against him. 

George Mignott (25), from Newlands, will also be hoping to get out of jail this week ahead of a new trial. He was also charged in the WestStar hold-up but acquitted after trial. However, he was given 12 years for his part in the armed bank robbery as he was said to have been one of the armed gunmen.

Meanwhile, Rennie Cole (34), who was never charged in connection with the WestStar robbery and was said to have been a decoy in the Cayman National Bank robbery, was given a nine year term. A Jamaican national who was on a work permit at the time of the bank job, was facing deportation after he had served his time. However, having been acquitted but facing a retrial, Cole may struggle to get bail as he will not be allowed to work, given his circumstances.

Although Andre Burton, from West Bay, a fourth member of the alleged robber gang, was also acquitted in the CNB case, the Court of Appeal upheld his conviction in the WestStar robbery. As a result, Burton will continue serving his 14-year sentence, though that lengthy term was based on the fact that Burton was a double robber.

Now that he stands convicted of just one, the appeal court said it would hear his application to reduce that sentence after the CNB retrial if he is found not guilty in that robbery.

Ryan Edwards, another Jamaican national who was convicted in both the WestStar robbery and the Cayman National armed hold-up, was the only one of the group of menwhose convictions were upheld in both cases and he will remain in jail to serve his 13 year sentence.

He was arrested in Jamaica in possession of the money stolen from CNB, and after he was convicted in that case, he confessed to being one of the getaway drivers in the WestStar heist.

However, Edwards told police that his accomplices were not the men who had been charged based largely on the evidence of the crown’s supergrass witness, Marlon Dillon, who was also one of the gunmen in the bank robbery and who also said he was one of the getaway drivers in the WestStar hold-up.

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West Bay school triumphs in age-old rivalry

| 25/11/2014 | 0 Comments

(CUC-PFL): Sir John A Cumber and George Town renewed their traditional rivalry in the CUC Primary Football League (PFL) and Girls’ Primary Football League (GPFL) Saturday at the Annex Field. Not so long ago this fixture would be the highlight of the season for both schools but this season has been more of a learning year for both sets of coaches who have been blending in a number of new players and youngsters into their teams. In the Group A U9 encounter, Sir John A Cumber Primary’s defender Matthias McLean got the game’s onlygoal in the 35th minute as he hit a high, looping shot that deceived stand-in goalkeeper Jeru McField and bounced into the back of the empty net much to the delight of the scorer’s West Bay teammates.

Those few seconds of misjudgment were young Jeru McField’s only blemish on a stellar
performance in the George Town goal, which saw the young man make some wonderful saves during the game to keep his team in the match.

In the GPFL, the young ladies from Sir John A. Cumber Primary found their counterparts from George Town very difficult to breakdown but Rianna Jackson scored in the 37th minute to lead her team to a hard-fought 1-0 victory.

In the morning’s feature game, the Under 11s from Sir John A. Cumber made it “three out of three” with a 3-0 victory over the older boys from George Town Primary thanks to goals from Taron Ebanks in the 5th minute, Rashaad Powery in the 19th minute and Arthur Fredericks in the 43rd minute. Although going down to defeat in all three games, the boys and girls from George Town Primary showed great determination and effort. Their “never give-up” attitude is what the PFL and the GPFL are all about.

Other PFL results in Group A included St. Ignatius Prep 2 vs. Cayman International School 3 (Under 9) and St. Ignatius Prep 4 vs. Cayman International School 1 (Under 11)

In the other Group A game in the GPFL it was St. Ignatius Prep 2 vs. Cayman International School 0. In Group B of the PFL, it was Cayman Prep 6 vs. Bodden Town Primary 0 (Under 9); Cayman Prep 7 vs.Bodden Town Primary 1 (Under 11); NorthEast Schools 1 vs. South Sound Schools 0 (Under 9); NorthEast Schools 3 vs. South Sound Schools 2 (Under 11); Triple C 0 vs. Red Bay Primary 3 (Under 9); Triple C 1 vs. Red Bay Primary 1 (Under 11) and Prospect Primary 1 vs. Cayman Brac 2 (Under 11). In the GPFL Group B games it was Cayman Prep 4 vs. Bodden Town Primary 0 and Triple C 1 vs. Red Bay Primary 0.

The 2014/2015 CUC PFL and GPFL regular season concludes on Saturday, November 29 with games at Savannah Primary, Bodden Town Primary, Cayman International School, Triple C, the Old Man Bay Field in North Side and the Annex Field.

The 2014/2015 Playoffs kick-off on Saturday, December 6 at the Annex Field

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Local riders show off dressage skills

| 25/11/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Cayman’s dressageriders put their skills to the test last weekend in the first of the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation’s National Dressage Shows for the 2014/15 season. Organisers said the high point award in the junior division went to Saskia Drake on Me and My Shadow with 68.409% in training level test 3 and in the adult division Madeleine Aquart on Coco Pop for her USDF B test score of 65.938. The most difficult tests were the USEF 3rd level tests in the adult division. Charlotte Hinds took 1st place in the test 3 Class, Jessica McTaggart-Giuzio took 1st in test 2 Class with Thea Millward in 2nd and in Test 1 class Thea Millward was 1st, Polly Serpell 2nd and Alexandra Bodden 3rd.

In the USEF second level, one step down in difficulty, Alexandra Bodden was 1st in the adult test 3 class and Phoebe Serpell was1st in the test 1 juniors.

In the USEF First Level Tests, Isabelle Smith was first in Test 3 (Adult s) and Phoebe Serpell was first in the Test 3 (Juniors). In Test 2 (Juniors), Anja van Genderen was first with Ashley van den Bol in second. In the Test 1 (Adults), Madeleine Aquart was first and in the Test 1 (Juniors), Hannah Fowler was first with Anja van Genderen in second. Hannah Fowler was also first in the FEI Preliminary Test.

In the USEF Training Level Tests, Saskia Drake took first place in the Test 3 and 2 Juniors, followed by Basil Humphries in second place in the Test 3 class. In the Adult Test 1 class Tanja Braendle was placed first, Juliette Forrester second and Amara Thompson third. Rounding out this level was Hannah Fowler in first place in the Test 1 class (Juniors), Eva Muspratt in second, Abbey Swartz in third, Chloe Fowler in fourth, Jenna Boucher in fifth and Megan Swartz in sixth.

The introductory classes of the day, where novice riders showcase their skills, are the UDSF B and C classes. These classes had many new riders or new horses making their debut. Clinching first place in the B class for the Juniors was Kayla Mannisto, closely followed by Lara Humphries in second, Skye Buckley in third, Kyra Slattery in fourth, Shayla Ebanks in fifth and Laney Bodden in sixth.

In the Adult category, Madeleine Aquart took first with Alexandra Bodden in second and Georgia Austin in third. In the C class Juniors, rounding off the day, was Megan Swartz in first pace with Jenna Boucher in second, Abbey Swartz in third, Eva Muspratt in fourth, Lea Rado in fifth and Shayla Ebanks in sixth.

Cindy Thaxton, who hosted coaching clinics prior to the competition and who was judge on the day said, “It was a pleasure to see riders applying basics like forward with bend to bring about reach into the contact. It appears the CIEF has a deep base for developing the future of the sport.”

The CIEF split the dressage show between two venues; the Equestrian Centre and the Cayman Riding School as a result of numbers

The CIEF’s next dressage show is on Sunday 18 January and will be judged by Austrian judge, Victoire Mandl, who will be visiting Barbados and Cayman to offer dressage tips to riders of both federations.


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Treasure in short supply as resort goes bust

| 25/11/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): The future of one of Grand Cayman’s long standing resorts is in jeopardy after receivers were appointed last week to deal with Treasure Island. Restoration Cayman Ltd, the company that owns the 280-room resort on Seven Mile Beach in the heart of the tourist district, has gone into receivership in the face of serious financial problems. According to a release from the local firm Zolfo Cooper, which provides corporate advisory and restructuring services, its partners, Tammy Fu and Eleanor Fisher, have been appointedas joint receivers of the struggling company. Read more on CNS Business

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16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence Campaign

| 25/11/2014 | 20 Comments

Though we are mainly known for tropical weather and beautiful beaches, the Caribbean is also one of the most violent regions in the world and experiences a deplorable level of violence against women and girls. Here in the Cayman Islands we are not spared the evils of gender-based violence, which by definition includes rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, trafficking in women, forced prostitution, sexual harassment and harmful cultural practices.

Today marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and also the first day of the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence campaign, which runs through 10th December – International Human Rights Day – to reaffirm that women’s rights are human rights. We must respect the dignity of all people and their right to live a life free from violence.

Focusing on violence against women is not to ignore the suffering of boys and men, who are also victims of domestic and sexual violence as well as disproportionate victims of homicide and other violent crimes. However, historical inequities and cultural stereotypes do make women and girls more vulnerable to gender-based violence and at this time of the year we focus on their particular circumstances and needs.

Gender based violence encompasses many difficult topics that are often hard to talk about, especially in public. However, that is exactly what we must do in order to decrease such violence. We have laws on the books and many services and resources available, but until we change our mindset we will never eliminate this scourge.

We cannot separate public and private crime; robberies at our local businesses and murders in our streets are not removed from domestic violence in our homes and sexual assault in our bedrooms. Yet we do not condemn these crimes with the same conviction. We often think victims must have motives to lie about their experiences or that what has occurred is not a crime but rather a private matter between two individuals. Or we may ask what she did to anger her partner, or wonder how much she drank that night.

This social tolerance of violence and victim blaming and shaming is unacceptable. Those who would turn a blind eye to violence or who discriminate against victims of gender-based crimes by treating them differently than they would a person who states that he or she has been burgled or assaulted are not a part of the solution.

Government has a responsibility to keep people safe and the anti-violence legal framework in our nation is strong and progressive. We do recognise that there are areas where implementation and capacity building can be improved and are committed to strengthening our laws and policies, putting mechanisms in place to build more inclusive and supportive structures to enforce them, and also addressing the root causes of these crimes to prevent violence from occurring in the first place.

However, these laws and policies will not work without support from stakeholders and from the general public. As citizens and residents of the Cayman Islands, we must work together for a safer community, and national security must include a focus on making homes, schools, workplaces and social settings safe. Violence against women is systemic, and it has been allowed to flourish in our society as a result of gender inequality. We are therefore all accountable for changing this offensive reality.

The 16 Days of Activism campaign is an organising strategy and an opportunity to renew our commitment to addressing these pervasive abuses that are often unacknowledged, under acknowledged or worse, denied. Violence against women is a public health issue; it has severe negative effects on children who witness and/or are victims of violence; it affects national productivity; and it is an obstacle to social development and true and lasting peace. Violence threatens the physical integrity of women and girls, limits their choices and affects their daily lives.

On this occasion, let us all therefore engage meaningfully in action to address gender-based violence however and wherever we can. I urge you all to join me in considering the ways in which we can challenge the structures which perpetuate gender-based violence, enact positive change and eliminate violence in our Islands. We owe it to our women and girls and also to our men and boys.

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Watson appears in court

| 25/11/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The former chair of the Health Services Authority appeared in Summary Court Tuesday before Magistrate Grace Donalds facing a list of corruption related offences. Canover Watson, who was charged by police last week, remained silent during the brief committal hearing as the five charges against him, which include money laundering, breach of trust and fraud, were transmitted to the Grand Court. Watson was bailed to appear in the higher court on Friday 28 November. Watson, the winner of the 2007 Young Caymanian Leadership Award, who was represented by Ben Tonner, was ordered to report to George Town police station on Wednesdays as an additional condition of his bail.

The court heard that the local businessman and former FIFA executive, who is a prominent face in the local community having served on a number of government boards and committees, has already surrendered his passport and must reside at his Prospect home.

Toyin Salaco, the prosecuting attorney in the case, explained that three of the charges are category A offences and as the two remaining B offences arise out of the same allegations they would also be transmitted to the higher court.

Watson publicly denied the allegations following his arrest earlier this year but has made no public comment since he was charged by anti-corruption cops on Thursday.

It is understood that the charges against Watson relate to the award of a more than $11 million contract for a health care card pay system at the George Town Hospital when he was chair of the HSA board.

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2nd witness alleges confession

| 25/11/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A woman who had worked as a helper in a notorious yard in West Bay told the court repeatedly Monday that Leonard Antonio Ebanks had confessed to her that he had killed a white man by hitting him twice on the head with a block because he was homosexual and owed him a $1,000. The woman, who is in the witness protection programme and cannot be named, revealed that she had later discovered that the man was 40-year-old Swiss banker, Frederic Bise, whose body was found in February 2008 in the back of his own burned out car. Despite rigorous cross-examination by the defence attorney, the woman stuck to her story that Ebanks had confessed to the murder.

As the crown called the woman as a key witness to support its case that Ebanks, along with Chad Anglin, had killed Bise in the early morning hours of 8 February 2008, the court also heard that she had told police that Ebanks had confessed to the murder of Tyrone Burrell.

Burrell had been shot and killed in the yard where the woman had lived and worked as a helper in September 2010. Ebanks was convicted of that murder a year later in September 2011 and is currently serving a life sentence, the jury heard. The witness said that after that killing and Ebanks’ confession over the white man, she had gone to the police to “talk what she know”.

She told the court she was afraid and believed “he was born a killer and a wrong doer". She said, "All I was trying to do was get out of that yard before my life go too.” 

After telling the police about the confession regarding the Burrell murder, the police placed the woman in witness protection overseas with an allowance of $400 per month. After she signed the agreement she also told the police that Ebanks had confessed to killing Bise.

Defence attorney Courtenay Griffiths QC pointed out that she had received over $53,000 from the Cayman public purse as a protected witness over the last four years, as he implied she was making up the confession in order to get the money. The woman denied that and said she had volunteered to be a witness and insisted that Ebanks had made the confession on several occasions.

She told the court that she had met Ebanks, whom she knew as Tonio and Mad Max, at the house in Birch Tree Hill where she was a helper as he came to the location frequently. She confirmed that the house was where both Damion Ming and Tyrone Burrell were killed in gang related shootings and that drugs were being sold at the property. Despite being a staunch Christian and aware of the goings on there, she said she had come to Cayman to work and until she could get a permit to go elsewhere she had to stay.

She said she knew Tonio was a drug addict who used coke but he was very friendly and talkative. The witness said it was several weeks after she met him that he told her about killing the white man. She said he spoke about the murder to her several times and said, “One time he went to the white man’s house and hit him with block and the man dead and drove him around West Bay …”

She said he told her that he had brought the man’s body to the house where she worked but he had been told to take the body away, so he took the car back to Bise’s house “and set the vehicle afire with the man in it”.

At first, she said, she did not say anything about the confession as she was not completely convinced he was telling the truth and she was unaware of the murder at the time. But after he told her he had killed Burrell as well, she went to the police about both confessions, she said. 

Although Griffiths queried some discrepancies in the woman’s statements over the timeline of the confessions, the woman did not waver from her position and repeatedly stated that Tonio had told her he had hit the white man twice on the head with a block and killed him “because he was a faggot and he owed him 1,000 Cayman Islands dollars”.

Ebanks has denied killing Bise and claims that the two women who told police that he confessed to them are lying and are being paid by the police to give evidence against him. The crown’s case against him continues this week before a jury with Justice Charles Quin presiding in Grand Court One.

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