Cops round up four robbers

| 18/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The police have arrested four robbery suspects following an armed stick-up last night at a liquor store in Grand Harbour. An RCIPS spokesperson said that three men with what were described as guns, entered Blackbeard's Liquor store at the shopping centre next to Hurley's at 7:41pm. The men demanded and stole an undisclosed sum of money from the store’s cash register and also robbed a customer of a cell phone and cash. The offenders left the location in a black SUV, heading in an easterly direction. No shots were fired during the incident and no injuries were reported.

The police said that shortly afterwards four men aged between 21 and 25 years old from Prospect and George Town awere arrested in connection with the robbery.

Anyone who was in the area at the relevant time and saw or heard anything suspicious that can assist the investigation is asked to contact the George Town Police at 949-4222, the RCIPS tip line 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS).

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Suspect crack dealer busted

| 17/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Two people from West Bay have been arrested for a number of drug offences following an early morning bust Wednesday by the RCIPS Drugs and Serious Crime Task Force, together with officers from the Operational Support Group (OSU). An RCIPS spokesperson said that just after 6:00am detectives and police officers conducted a search at a Mount Pleasant residence in West Bay, where crack cocaine, drug paraphernalia and cash was recovered. A 28-year-old man and a 34-year-old woman, both residents of West Bay, were arrested on suspicion of possession of cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to supply a control drug, consumption of cocaine and possession of a prohibited weapon. 

Police said that the woman was bailed to return to the George Town Police Station at a later date but the man remains in police custody.

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Operation Dasher racks up tickets and arrests

| 17/12/2014 | 4 Comments

(CNS): As the police continue their Christmas crime crackdown, officials confirmed that just one week after the campaign began 188 people have been ticketed or arrested for traffic infractions. Operation Dasher, the working titled for this year’s festive focus on crime and safety, began on Wednesday 10 December and has netted nearly 200 people already for a catalogue of infractions, from speeding to driving under the influence of alcohol. In the last week just six people were arrested for drinking and driving but the police anticipate that there will be many more over the next few weeks as they urge people to use designated drivers or alternative transport.

“The motoring public are advised to use designated drivers or charter buses when attending Christmas functions, especially if they plan on consuming alcohol,” an RCIPS spokesperson stated. “Drink driving, speeding, cell-phone driving and failing to wear seatbelts are just a few of the traffic offences which will be targeted by RCIPS officers over the coming weeks in a bid to reduce deaths and injuries on Cayman’s roads.”

The Christmas crackdown campaign continues through into the New Year until Sunday 4 January 2015.

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Cops with convictions remain

| 17/12/2014 | 19 Comments

(CNS): The firestorm following the recruitment of a now convicted murderer to the RCIPS has raised a long standing public complaint that the police have a history of failing to check the background of those recruited to the service. The police commissioner recently confirmed that at least one other serving police officer was recruited with at least one criminal conviction. The prison service has committed to reviewing every one of its employees after it discovered recently that one of its officers was a registered sex offender. But even though there are concerns that others with a questionable history may be on the police payroll, there has been no indication that the RCIPS management will be doing any kind of review.

Commissioner David Baines recently confirmed that an officer is working in the RCIPS who was convicted at least once with possession of a significant amount of ganja before joining the service.

Baines said that although this was a spent conviction, which means that enough time had elapsed that it was no longer taken into account for legal purposes, police officers, like a number of other public servants, are obligated to reveal all past convictions, regardless of how old. In this case the officer, who remains on staff, did not do so. In 1996, two years after he was recruited, the officer was, Baines said, the “subject of a disciplinary inquiry by the then Deputy Commissioner of Police, who recognized the failing had occurred with no overseas vetting procedures being undertaken.”

The commissioner said this led to a review of recruitment practices. The chief inspector of the training department was advised of the failings and the RCIPS application form was amended to ensure all convictions, including spent convictions, are revealed in an application.

CNS cannot name the officer in question because the police commissioner said we would be committing an offence if we did.

The officer was reportedly spoken to about his failure to reveal his past criminal record as it was a spent conviction, it was “determined that he should be retained by the RCIPS”, Baines said, and he remains in office to date.  

The commissioner also confirmed that he had, since taking up the top job at the RCIPS, dismissed another officer who was appointed to the RCIPS with a previous convictions and had served time at HMP Northward.

“Whilst his appointment was prior to my arrival in the Cayman Islands, I discharged him whilst in his police probationary period as being unlikely to make an effective police officer,” Baines added.

Over the years allegations of officers from Jamaica and elsewhere arriving in Cayman with a chequered history are not uncommon and thereare concerns that the RCIPS is still not conducting the level of background checks the public wants to see when it comes to those entrusted to enforce the law. The complaint, however, is not confined to the police, prison or other law enforcement agents but across government and in the private sector as well.

The recruitment of people to Cayman from all over the world leaves the jurisdiction vulnerable, with the credibility of police clearance certificates from overseas, references and other alleged credentials rarely checked. There is a widely held perception in the community that as a result of the weaknesses in background checks, overseas recruits serving in position of trust in both the private as well as public sectors with a questionable and even criminal past is not uncommon.

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Bread roll swindler walks free after owning up

| 16/12/2014 | 23 Comments

(CNS): A man who was originally sentenced to seven years in jail over a number of charges relating to a $300,000 bread roll con but who was bailed following a successful appeal will not go back to prison, despite being convicted for a second time after pleading guilty. Acting Grand Court Judge Justice Malcolm Swift explained that because of the special circumstances in the case, despite the seriousness of the offence and lack of mitigation, he would not send 49-year-old Dave Bryan back to jail considering the double jeopardy principle and because he had already served almost three years. Some of the sentences imposed on Bryan after trial in 2012 were consecutive as they were separate, albeit related, offences and one was committed while on bail.

The judge said that his decision to run the sentences concurrently following the defendant's guilty plea was not a green light for other offenders to think they can commit more offences on bail and receive concurrent sentences. The decision related specifically to this case and the special circumstances of Bryan being released after almost three years in jail, he said.

Bryan, who is a Jamaican national, was a partner with West Bay opposition MLA Bernie Bush in Cayman Bakery and he had conned his partner, Bush’s wife, who did the accounts for the business, the firm's driver and the bakery's largest customer, Fosters Food Fair, over a period of almost 12 months, stealing more than US$300,000. Bryan had taken advantage of a weak system at Fosters and manipulated the invoices and documents relating to the bread, rolls and buns he delivered to the supermarket.

It wasn’t until one of the Fosters managers became suspicious about an invoice, which indicated such a large quantity of rolls and baked goods that the supermarket shelves couldnot even have held them all, that an internal investigation began and the crime came to light.

Bryan denied the crime in the first instance and had pointed the finger of blame at both the bakery’s own driver and the Fosters employee who received the deliveries. They were later found to be innocent but both lost their jobs anyway as a result of Bryan’s allegations.

Bryan was convicted after a trial but the Court of Appeal overturned the conviction and ordered a retrial as they found that the crown had failed to tell the court that it had entered into a deal with the Fosters employee that ensured he was not prosecuted in connection with what were later revealed to be the false allegations. The appeal court then ordered a retrial.

Despite the technical point that caused the acquittal, the crown's evidence against Bryan was said to be overwhelming and after various discussion with the crown directions regarding the possible sentence, Bryan eventually owned up and pleaded guilty to certain related offences and made admissions about the con.

Then in what turned out to be a complex arrangement of sentences relating to a number of offences, the judge, following Bryan’s pleas, bundled the crimes together and imposed a sentence of three years and seven months after he gave Bryan a 25% discount for the late guilty plea ahead of the retrial. This sentence replaced all previous orders and the end result was that he would not go back to jail.

“Special circumstances apply in this case and the result is that the sentence is specific to this case and should not be used as a precedent in other cases, none of which are ever likely to replicate these facts,” the judge said, as he indicated the new term would replace the original seven year term.

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MLAs vote for double jail

| 16/12/2014 | 42 Comments

(CNS): The country's politicians want to see convicted criminals serve more time behind bars. Government has accepted a private member’s motion brought by the two George Town Coalition for Cayman backbench members, which passed unanimously in the parliament before it was adjourned last week until the New Year. Winston Connolly’s motion asked government to consider doubling the prison terms for people convicted of offences which relate to the residential, tourism and financial services sectors to reflect what he said were the wishes of the community in the face of rising crime and adopt a zero tolerance position. Connolly said Cayman was experiencing the full array of serious crimes, which was impacting the main pillars of the economy.

The motion came following a debate on another private member's motion recently brought by the independent members for a 'three strikes and you are out' policy when dealing with convicted offenders, which won broad support in the Legislative Assembly.

With crime high on the political agenda at present, Connolly pointed to concerns that thefull gambit of crimes taking place in Cayman, from car-jackings and murders to financial crime and street robberies, is taking its toll on the community and the economy. As a result, he said, stiffer jail terms are required. The George Town backbencher said government should give particular consideration to upping the ante with the sentencing of crimes committed against the financial services sector, in tourism related circumstances as well as crimes in residential areas.

Connolly told his MLA colleges, as he presented the motion, supported by Roy McTaggart, that calm and reasonable people were now cursing at the politicians to do something about the perceived rising crime. He also warned that if people in high places were committing crime and not following the rule,s things would get worst.

“Crime is impacting the investment climate and growth and it is increasing costs of doing business and causing reputational loss,” he said, noting that tourists can do much damage on interactive sites such as TripAdvisor when they are the victims of crime. “News of crime here can get round the world really quickly,” he warned.

He said that despite the statistics reflecting a fall in the number of serious crimes, he believed that when people are afraid to go out, when they are locking themselves in and not enjoying life because of their perception of crime, the numbers don’t matter and something had to be done.

The George Town member pointed out that the proposed revitalization of the capital would fail if government couldn’t assure investor and business owners that there was a zero tolerance approach to crime. He urged government to put the necessary resources into crime prevention and call for greater deterrence regarding punishment, as he said criminals should be afraid of law enforcement and the subsequent punishment.

He called for more crimes to be solved and cleared up as well as tougher sentencing, alongside incentives such as creating an environment to generate jobs. He also spoke of the need to prevent too much money and profit leaving the country at the expense of the people. He said with locals not feeling the benefit from the wealth in the economy, this fuelled frustrations.

Connolly called for an “effective crime strategy” as well as the reform of the police and the judiciary to make them more efficient. But he also acknowledged the need to address social deprivation and education standards.

Pointing to past mistakes of leaders in the community who ignored the growing crime problems because it didn’t affect them and allowed people in the community to fall through the cracks, he said now it was time for the politicians to  demonstrate moral leadership and the need to get tough on crime.

Roy McTaggart, who seconded the motion, said the goal was not “to fetter the discretion of the courts but to send a message that our citizens feel unsafe and want stronger action from the police and courts”. He added that what was happening now is not working as criminals don’t fear sentences or respect the rule of law.

Although the motion was supported on both sides of the House, the opposition leader pointed out that tougher penalties were not necessarily the answer, as he pointed to the United States where officials are reconsidering lengthy jail terms. McKeeva Bush also said it was costly to keep people in prison.

Bush said the breakdown in casual labour market was part of the problem. He asked if society would benefit from a mother who was caught shoplifting to feed her child was given a longer jail term. He pointed out that if she goes to jail government has to take care of the child, making things worse for that family and the public purse.

He said it was a more stable workforce that was needed, not more jail. Heasked if there was going to be more police to protect the areas where Connolly was concerned about as he said it was foot patrols and community policing which would have a real impact on crime.

Arden McLean, from East End, while offering his support to Connolly’s motion pointed out that before criminals could be locked up for longer, the police had to catch them. He then said the evidence had to be there and the crown prosecutors had to secure a conviction in the court. He said that in the absence of a well-managed police force and prosecution system, longer jail terms would be pointless. McLean said policing had “gone from bad to worse” as he lamented the failure of officers to turn up when crime was reported until sometimes days after the event.

The independent member also pointed out that regardless of where the powers lay, elected members are still blamed for crime. He said because of that the politicians on all sides needed to get together, behind closed doors if necessary, to address what is happening with the police and to discuss putting provisions in place to improve the criminal justice system.

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Governor backs Baines

| 15/12/2014 | 111 Comments

(CNS): The police commissioner has received the public backing of Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick. In a short statement on Monday afternoon from her office, she said she believed David Baines’ actions over the recruitment of a police officer under investigation for murder, later charged and convicted, were justified and in line with procedures. She took aim at those who have criticised the commissioner and said everyone should support him. However, a number of local politicians have made it clear that they no longer have faith in the police boss and also believe that he has lost the support of the wider Caymanian community.

Kilpatrick said the “false criticisms and unwarranted personal attacks” on Baines were damaging the reputation of the Cayman Islands and were undermining the effectiveness of the police and safety of the community, as she offered her full support to the commissioner.

However, this is unlikely to be an end to the issue, regardless of the governor's comments.

Backbench MLA Bernie Bush has said that he intends to bring a motion for a no confidence vote regarding the commissioner’s position in the Legislative Assembly to allow MLAs to express their concerns about the revelations regarding the recruitment of a Jamaican officer to the RCIPS who was convicted of murder last month.

Ezzard Miller (North Side), Arden McLean (East End) and government backbencher Alva Suckoo (Bodden Town) have all publicly expressed their concerns. Other members of the government benches are also understood to have raised their concerns with the premier behind closed doors.

The considerable amount of public backlash and criticism of the way the RCIPS is being managed in a number of public forums, as well as the parliament, appears to have done nothing to persuade the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's representative that the commissioner should be replaced.

In the short statement Kilpatrick said, “Having returned to office, I have reviewed the circumstances surrounding the recruitment of a Jamaican national officer by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and the subsequent decisions in relation to this officer when he was charged with a serious offence. I am fully satisfied that the actions of the Commissioner of Police were justified and in line with the law and standard disciplinary procedures for any civil servant.

“It is important for all sectors of the community to support the Commissioner and members of the RCIPS in their continued fight against crime on behalf of the people of the Cayman Islands. We should not tolerate false criticisms and unwarranted personal attacks on the Commissioner of Police as these serve only to damage the reputation of the Cayman Islands and undermine the effectiveness of the police and hence the safety of our community. The Commissioner has my full support as he carries out his vital duties,” she stated.

Premier Alden McLaughlin has made no comment on his position, and neither he nor any members of his Cabinet have responded to questions from CNS about their support or otherwise for the commissioner. However, he persuaded MLAs during last week’s Legislative Assembly meeting, in particular Bernie Bush, to hold their fire and wait until he had met with the governor to discuss the matter. In the statement there was no indication as to whether the governor had discussed the matter with McLaughlin and there has been nothing from the premier’s office about whether or not the leaders met.

During last week’s debate in the LA, Arden McLean asked the premier to impress upon the governor that the opposition and other members of the parliament would also like to discuss the matter with her and have a chance to express their concerns and those of their constituents.

The governor has made no mention of whether she will consider a meeting with the wider parliament or any members of the opposition benches on the matter of the commissioner's job.

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Merren admits serious drug offences in US court

| 15/12/2014 | 52 Comments

(CNS): Local businessman Bryce Merren has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute drugs. The 47-year-old Caymanian, who admitted the offence in a Puerto Rico court last week, still faces two other counts, one of money laundering and another drug-related offence of attempting to sell, distribute or dispense cocaine, but as part of a plea deal those charges are expected to be dropped. Merren was arrested in March this year in a sting operation in which he was accused by US law enforcement officers of being involved in a plot to to smuggle as much as 3,000 kilos of cocaine.

Merren is understood to have met an undercover federal agent in San Juan, which the US authorities claim is caught on film, on numerous occasions in connection with a proposed major drug deal.

He was also accused of transferring $200,000 as initial deposit for the smuggling operation. US authorities say that Merren planned to use business interests in the Cayman Islands and in Curacao to assist in laundering money from the sale of the cocaine. 

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Man shot near BT bar

| 15/12/2014 | 17 Comments

(CNS): Police are investigating a shooting which occurred in Bodden Town around midnight Sunday at the end of a violent weekend.  The incident took place close to the Everglo bar when a 43-year-old man from the district was shot in his left shoulder. An RCIPS spokesperson said he was taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town, where he was treated for his injuries, which are not considered life threatening. He is now in a stable condition, the police reported Monday. The shooting comes after a number of crimes in George Town over the weekend: there were two armed street robberies on Saturday night, as well as a violent stabbing and reports of a car being shot at, both in the early hours of Saturday morning. 

Police have arrested a suspect in the car shooting incident and have charged a man in connection with the stabbing but the armed street robbers remain at large.

Officers are now also looking for the Bodden Town shooter as no  arrests have been made in connection with that incident.

Anyone who may have witnessed this incident or who may have information to assist are asked to contact the Bodden Town Police on 947 2220 or Detective Constable Karen McQuade at 326-2558 or Crime Stoppers on 800 8477(TIPS).

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Locals recognized by Rotary for job well done

| 15/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(Rotary): Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Central last week recognized two outstanding Caymanians for their contribution to their vocations.  The annual Vocational Service Award recognizes those individuals who have gone above and beyond on what has been required in their vocations. Recognized at the weekly Rotary Central meeting were Police Officer Miguel McFarlane and shipping advisor Raymond Scott. Officer McFarlane is well known to all Caymanians and businesses of Central George Town and along the waterfront. His pleasant smile and willingness to help anyone who looks for any kind of assistance. 

"When I joined the Police it was not for the money or positon, I joined because I truly saw a way of helping my community in a constructive way", said Officer McFarlane as he humbly accepted his Award from President Larry Tibbetts. "I thank Rotary Central for the very nice andkind recognition that you have given me” said Officer McFarlane.  Police Commissioner Baines who was also in attendance spoke highly of Officer McFarlane.  “Officer Miguel McFarlane optimizes the highest qualities of a police officer and is truly loved by the entire community of the Cayman Islands” noted Commissioner Baines.

Raymond Scott may not be visibly recognizable as Officer McFarlane, but his voice is certainly known if you listen to any of the talk shows. Mr. Scott is the Sub-Agent for Lloyds of London for Cayman Brac & Little Cayman and Cayman Shipping Advisor.  “I started as a shipping advisor at the age of 15; during my career I have been involved in over 100 rescues at sea,” he said. “This has included ships on fire, distress, and so on, and I have never gotten paid for it.  I do this because I love being able to help others and keeping alive the seafaring traditions of Cayman”

Both awardees were nominated by Rotarian Kent Eldermire, a member of Rotary Central.

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