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Cops warn drivers to stop driving drunk

| 22/12/2014 | 30 Comments

(CNS): After arresting sixteen people for driving under the influence of alcohol during the second week of the police Christmas safety campaign, Operation Dasher, officers warned drivers not to get behind the wheel if they have been drinking. An RCIPS spokesperson noted that drinking and driving is extremely dangerous as it places other road users at risk of being involved in a crash and receiving serious injuries. The police also raised concerns about the number of people using phones while driving after 45 people were fined during the last week alone and advised motorists to use hands free devises. In addition to the 16 drunk drivers and 45 drivers caught using their phones, police arrested another five people for driving while disqualified.

The festive road safety and anti-crime campaign will last into the New Year as the police increase the number of road blocks and crack down on rogue drivers.

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Burglars throw booze at cops

| 22/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Two suspected booze burglars were rounded up by police in the early hours of Friday morning, an RCIPS spokesperson revealed Monday. The masked culprits attempted to escape when they were caught red handed by officers by throwing some of their ill gotten gains at them but they were caught in a police cordon. The police had received a report via 911 that the burglary was underway at a bar on Seymour Road in George Town. When the police arrived they found two masked men, who were wearing dark clothing, leaving the bar with bottles of alcohol. On seeing the cops the suspects threw two bottles of alcohol at the uniformed officers before jumping a fence in an attempt to escape. 

However, they were apprehended shortly afterwards by other officers in a cordon near the Butterfield roundabout. Police said that the car used by the accused men was searched and a quantity of liquor and beer was found. 

The two men, both from George Town, aged 31 and 26, werearrested and then charged with burglary. The men were scheduled to appear in court Monday.

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Arguments adjourned in Watson’s dismissal hearing

| 22/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A dismissal application made by Canover Watson to argue that criminal charges against him should be dropped was adjourned Monday after his attorney told the court that he needed more time. Ben Tonner, from Samson & McGrath, told the court that it was "an unrealistic timeframe to work towards” to prepare the arguments for the case to be thrown out. At the end of last month Tonner said that a lack of evidence to support the charges of money laundering and corruption had led to the application, which is now likely to take place in February. Watson has not yet answered the charges in court but has denied all the allegations, describing them as “baseless”.

A trial date has already been set for next May if the dismissal argument fails. The court heard that if it goes ahead the trial would be likely to last three weeks.

Watson currently faces ten charges that all relate to a more than $11 million contract for a card payment system at the government hospital. The contract was awarded when Watson was chair of the Health Services Authority Board.

The full details of the charges have not yet been revealed and Tonner told the court during his client’s first Grand Court appearance at the end of November that he had not been served with any indictment or with the evidence in support of the allegations. But as a result of the charges laid against him, his liberty had been “restricted and his reputation unjustly tarnished”. 

Watson, a local businessman and Young Caymanian Leadership Award recipient, was also a FIFA official sitting on the world football body’s audit committee. However, following the charges he was suspended from that role.

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Syed battles for legal funding

| 22/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The former president of the University College of the Cayman Islands, who stands accused of stealing over a quarter of a million dollars from the institution, is caught a legal catch-22 regarding his forthcoming trial. Hassan Syed (47) has been refused legal aid because of his assets but because those assets have been frozen under the Proceeds of Crime Act he cannot access them to fund his legal representation. James Stenning, a local attorney currently acting as amicus curiae (friend of the court) for Syed said he had been granted legal aid for a hearing to try and have his assets released but there are no guarantees and Syed’s right to a fair trial is in jeopardy.

Stenning said that his firm would be prepared to act for Syed if the assets were released or he was granted legal aid. However, with some seventy witnesses in the case and thirteen charges of fraud and theft, Syed would not only need to be represented he would also likely need a Queen’s Counsel because of the complexities of the case. The lawyer also told the court that if Stenning and Associates was to formally go on record to represent Syed at trial, it is very unlikely that the defence would be ready for the case, which is scheduled to open in March.

Crown counsel Toyin Salako objected to any movement of the trial and also insisted that Syed, who has not yet answered the charges against him, be arraigned. She said the defendant has had the details of the counts since his extradition from Switzerland in May and must know whether he is guilty or not. She said that the trial date was set some seven months ago in June, adding that the delays could not “go on forever” and the crown was ready to proceed.

However, arguing on Syed’s behalf, Stenning said that he could not yet formally enter any pleas to the counts on the indictment as he had been advised. He urged the court to give the former head of UCCI more time and at least wait until after the hearing regarding Syed’s assets in the New Year.

Stenning pointed out that Syed was in a very difficult predicament over what are very serious allegations. He warned that at present, the defendant had no way to fund a lawyer and without legal aid or access to his own money he could not get a fair trial because he has no means to fund what will likely be an expensive case.

“If he is to have a fair trial, there must be reasonable time to assess the case,” Stenning said. “It is not as straight forward as it may appear to the prosecution.”

Despite the crown’s objections, Justice Charles Quin adjourned the case until 9 January but said that at his next appearance Syed must answer the charges.

Syed is accused of going on a lavish spending spree on the university credit card, using it for weekends away and luxury items, such as Tiffany jewellery. The alleged abuse of the card did not come to light until 2008, after Syed had resigned during a leave of absence. He was eventually tracked down and arrested in Switzerland and extradited back to Cayman. Syed agreed not to fight the extradition provided he was given bail and the opportunity to receive hospital treatment, as he is understood to be suffering from cancer.

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Driver charged after stabbing passenger

| 22/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police have charged a 33-year-old George Town man following a stabbing and robbery in George Town last month. The assault happened, police said, after the suspect had given a ride to a number of women to an address in Whitman Seymour Drive in George Town. An RCIPS spokesperson said the accused man reportedly got into an argument with one of the women in the early hours of Monday 24 November. At some point she received a stab wound to the abdomen and a mobile phone was stolen. The man was located by police and arrested. He has now been charged with wounding, robbery, and possession of an offensive weapon.

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Booze store robbery suspects face Christmas in jail

| 22/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police have now charged the four men arrested in the wake of a liquor store hold-up last week in Grand Harbour. All four suspect robbers remain in custody and police said they were expected to appear in court this week but they did not say when. Unless the men can schedule a successful bail hearing before the courts close for the holidays, they will be facing Christmas in Northward. The men have been charged with armed robbery and possession of firearms following the robbery last Wednesday evening at the Blackbeard's store next to Hurley’s. 

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Capt Marvin dies after a lifetime on the sea

| 22/12/2014 | 14 Comments

(CNS): One of Cayman’s best known tourism pioneers, Captain Charles Marvin Ebanks, died at the age of 98 on Saturday, having operated his local tour company for more than sixty years. He started his career on the sea in the turtling industry when he was still a teenager. Then in the 1950s he began taking tourists to Stingray City on a borrowed boat and was still taking guests out on one of his vessels well into his 90s. As well as being an ambassador for the country’s tourism sector, he made a significant contribution to local culture. Last year he was awarded the Cayman National Cultural Foundation’s highest honour, the Gold Heritage Cross.

He is survived by his 15 children, 33 grandchildren and 27 great grandchildren, and he also lived to see one great-great grandchild. 

The funeral service for Capt Marvin has been delayed in order to accommodate the numerous overseas guests as well as the many locals expected to attend and will take place on the afternoon of Saturday 3 January at the Wesleyan Holiness Church in West Bay.

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Police charge suspects in $100k credit card scam

| 22/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Four people arrested last week for using cloned credit cards at local businesses have been charged and are expected to appear in court today, Monday 22 December. The one woman and three men from Eastern Europe are accused of stealing over $115,000. The four visitors from the island have been charged with conspiracy to defraud, theft and possession of criminal property. The woman aged 33 is from Romania along with two men aged 38 and 42 while the fourth 39 year old man is from Hungary police stated and all four have been remanded in custody.

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Former Cayman police commissioner dies aged 90

| 20/12/2014 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Former Cayman Islands commissioner of police, Jim Stowers, has died aged 90. Stowers first came to Cayman in in 1976 for two years to train the police and returned in 1980 to serve as commissioner of police, a post he held for five years. During the royal visit in 1983 Queen Elizabeth presented him with the Queens' Police Medal for distinguished service. While he was commissioner, he was very active in policing drug trafficking and money laundering measures, presenting papers and lectures at Interpol conferences in Europe, the Caribbean and USA, including the FBI, according to the local media in Cornwall, where Stowers lived. He was described by friends as “an exceptional, special gentleman”. (Photo: Former Police Commissioner Jim Stowers, left, with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in the Cayman Islands in 1983)

Stowers served on a river class frigate in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, both in the Atlantic and the invasion of Sicily, reports the Torquay Herald Express.

After learning the 48 letters of the Japanese morse code, he volunteered to join wireless intelligence, which took him to Burma and French Indo China. When he was demobilised, Jim joined the Merchant Navy for a time as a radio officer on the Cunard troopship Franconia for the evacuation from Palestine and India.

Stowers began his police career in Torquay and he served 18 years in the CID in South Devon, including a spell in Brixham. He rose through the ranks to become acting assistant chief constable for Devon and Cornwall.

After returning home from the Cayman Islands in 1985, he lectured at the Bramshill Police College and became a research fellow at the University of Exeter, and tutor on the MA degree course in police and criminal justice.

Between 1986 and 1989 he undertook two surveys covering 11 dependent and independent countries in the Caribbean as head of team on behalf on the British government.

Stowers married his late wife, Eileen, in 1947 and the couple went on to have two sons, Jim and John. 

Stowers’ funeral will be held on Saturday at St Michael's Church, Teignmouth, at 11am.

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Cruise passenger drowns snorkelling off 7MB

| 20/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 35-year-old man from Michigan, USA, died while snorkelling off Seven Mile Beach Friday afternoon. Police said they received a call at about 3:20pm from Red Sail Sports stating a woman could not find her husband who had been snorkeling in the water off TikI Beach, on the West Bay Road. Staff from Red Sail Sports responded onjet skis and found the man unconscious in the water. CPR was conducted but he was unresponsive. He was taken by ambulance to the George Town hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The man and his wife along with their seven year old child were visiting aboard the Holland America. Police said the matter was now under investigation by officers from West Bay.

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