Triplets born on New Year’s Day; centenarian keeps working
Cayman welcomed three baby girls for the new year. Alexa, Jenna and Emma Thompson were born at 12:24 a.m. on Jan. 1 at South Miami Hospital to Mark and Sheena Thompson. The girls were named by their mom and big brother Jayden.
A week later, Wellesley Howell turned 100 and celebrated with family and friends after he put in a day’s work at his shoe repair shop on Shedden Road.
Three shootings, two fatal
On Jan. 3, Victor Oliver Yates, 22, was fatally shot in West Bay in the vicinity of the Super C Restaurant on Watercourse Road. On Jan. 5, another 22-year-old was wounded outside the Pop-a-Top Liquor Store on Powell Smith Road. Police and lawmakers expressed concern that the second incident could mark the reappearance of tit-for-tat gang-related shootings.
On Jan. 23, David Ruben Ebanks was fatally shot in the Birch Tree Hill area of West Bay. He had recently graduated from the Passport2Success program and was an automobile mechanic apprentice. His father said David was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Law school holds equality lecture series
The Student Society of the Truman Bodden Law School hosted a series of lectures over three weeks on the topic “Misogyny and homophobia: What is the Cayman Islands doing to promote gender and LGBT equality?” LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The public was invited to the series as a way for students to give back to the community by engaging people on “legal matters that matter to all.”
Caymanian debuts as TV star
Grace Gealey, who grew up in Bodden Town, made her debut this month in a leading role with the television drama series “Empire.” She learned about acting from high school teacher Nasaria Suckoo-Chollette and her local mentor was Henry Muttoo, artistic director at the Cayman National Cultural Foundation.
Grand Court opens, case management review announced
The Office of the Director of Prosecutions would review support systems involved of the preparation of criminal cases for court, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin announced at the formal opening of Grand Court on Jan. 14. U.K. criminal Justice adviser Claire Wetton went on to assist in the review over a three-month period.
American named to head Electoral Boundaries Commission
Lisa R. Handley, a voting rights expert and political science professor, became the first American to chair a Cayman Islands Electoral Boundaries Commission. She was appointed by Governor Helen Kilpatrick as Cayman prepared for single-member constituencies. Serving with her are attorney Adriannie Webb, nominated by Premier Alden McLaughlin, and attorney Steve McField, nominated by Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush.
More than 75 Cuban migrants passed through or landed in Cayman Brac during a one-week period. Most were believed to be heading to Honduras. Four Cubans who left the Brac area were later sighted off East End. Their vessel overturned in rough seas off South Sound. The four were rescued by surfers, but one died.
Tonie Chisholm is Miss Cayman
The first Cayman Compass for February featured Tonie Chisholm, one of 10 participants in a pageant that filled the Lions Centre. Ms. Chisholm, 26, won the title of Miss Cayman Islands 2015, succeeding Lindsay Japal.
Camana Bay expansion
Dart Realty unveiled plans for a $300 million expansion of Camana Bay, using landscaped bridges and elevating land to connect the development to a five-star hotel on Seven Mile Beach. Another US$1 billion is expected to be invested in the next 10 to 15 years, with development including residences.
Taste of Cayman
The 27th annual Taste of Cayman food and wine festival attracted several thousand people. Attendees were able to sample dishes from more than 30 restaurants while enjoying local and visiting entertainers. The event, organized by the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, also featured cooking demonstrations, two cocktail competitions and an amateur chef cook-off. Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink was voted Cayman’s favorite restaurant for the third consecutive year.
Caledonian goes into controllership
The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority placed Caledonian Securities and Caledonian bank into controllership days after the U.S. Securities and Exchange commission filed a lawsuit against the bank and its brokerage on Feb. 6. An attempt to put the bank into voluntary liquidation was rejected by the Grand Court.
Cancer Registry Bill released
A draft Cancer Registry law was released for public consultation. It would require health professionals to report cancer cases to the registry. The rationale is that more complete data could be used to better deploy resources to help fight the disease.
The bill was initially scheduled for action by legislators in the summer session, but by year’s end it had not been placed on the agenda.
Landfill catches fire again
A sizeable surface fire was reported at the George Town landfill on March 1, at least the fifth major fire there since December 2013. It was brought under control the same afternoon, but crews planed to monitor the site for several days. A new compactor and additional fire wells helped the firefighters.
Cruise line pledges $100,000
Carnival Cruise Lines pledged $100,000 to support the restoration of a section of reef severely damaged by one of its ship anchors in 2014. The cruise line maintained it was mistakenly directed to anchor at the site by the Port Authority’s licensed pilot. The pledge was described as a gesture of goodwill to show how much Carnival values the marine environment.
Political aide fired
Kenneth Bryan, political assistant to Premier Alden McLaughlin, was fired after a closed-door meeting with the premier and Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose. Mr. Bryan was suspended in December after being charged with assaulting police and disorderly conduct outside a night club in October. His trial commenced in August, was adjourned until November and then again to February 2016. Frank Cornwall Jr. replaced Mr. Bryan as political aide to the premier.
Airport expansion plans queried
Plans to more than double the size of Owen Roberts International Airport terminal were queried after airport authorities said boarding bridges, also known as jetways, were too expensive. The new construction, at US$55 million, would still require passengers to disembark via stairs and then walk to the terminal. Jetways would have added $20 million to the cost of the redevelopment, airport and tourism bosses said.
FATCA portal launched
The Cayman Islands Department for International Tax Cooperation has launched an Automatic Exchange of Information portal that allows Cayman’s financial institutions to register and report customer data under the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.
Farmer of the Year announced
Hamlin Stephenson received the trophy for “Farmer of the Year” during an awards ceremony at the Stacey Watler Agricultural Pavilion. He was also named “Crop Farmer of the Year.” Paul Bodden and William Chisholm tied for “Livestock Farmer of the Year.”
Costs ordered in election challenge
Chief Justice Anthony Smellie ordered West Bay’s Gordon Hewitt to reimburse MLA Tara Rivers for costs she incurred responding to his challenge of her election in 2013. Costs were described as “quite significant,” but neither the amount nor the time frame for payment was specified.
Mr. Hewitt had challenged Ms. Rivers’s qualifications for election. He is the husband of Velma Powery-Hewitt, who finished fifth in the race for four seats.
Healthcare not free
The Health Services Authority was expected to have nearly $70 million in unpaid bills from services rendered to patients, Chief Executive Officer Lizzette Yearwood told the Public Accounts Committee. However, public hospitals have a mandate to deliver care to those who cannot, or will not, pay for it, she noted.
CNB bank robbers sentenced
Four men found guilty after a retrial were sentenced for their roles in the June 2012 robbery of the Cayman National Bank branch at Buckingham Square.
David Tamasa and Andre Burton received 14 years; George Mignott received 12 years; Rennie Cole, nine years. Justice Ingrid Mangatal said deterring other would-be robbers had to be a significant factor.
The vast majority of the $502,436 stolen was never recovered. The Court of Appeal had ordered a retrial after ruling that there had been an error in the first trial concerning the defendants’ right to remain silent and how a jury should be instructed on that point.
A fifth defendant, Ryan Edwards, did not win his appeal and remained subject to his sentence of 13 years.
UCCI board of governors gets new members
Lemuel Hurlston, a former senior civil servant, was appointed chairman of the board of governors for the University College of the Cayman Islands. Cabinet chose Mr. Hurlston to replace Sheree Ebanks, who resigned. Board member Andrea Bryan was appointed deputy chairman to replace Linford Pierson, who also resigned. Local attorney Stephen Watler was appointed member.
$6 minimum hourly wage recommended
The findings of a report by the Minimum Wage Advisory Committee were announced by Premier Alden McLaughlin, with $6 per hour being the recommended minimum wage. The report makes exceptions for live-in domestic helpers and service industry workers who receive tips. Any minimum wage will require changes to several laws.
The committee also called for a review of the $3,000 per month household income threshold for temporary public assistance. That rate puts welfare recipients at a level earning $9.62 an hour, which chairman Lemuel Hurlston called “too generous.”
Private members’ motion alleges conspiracy
Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush filed a private members’ motion in the Legislative Assembly asking for an independent review of the involvement of high-ranking officials in an alleged conspiracy to remove him as premier in 2012. The officials included then-Governor Duncan Taylor, Police Commissioner David Baines, and Alden McLaughlin, who is now premier but was then Leader of the Opposition. Mr. McLaughlin subsequently advised that the motion had been filed too late for consideration in the April meeting.
Tempura case drags on
After hearing submissions in Grand Court, Justice Timothy Owen agreed that hundreds of pages of records related to the ill-fated Operation Tempura police corruption investigation should be withheld from public release.
The ruling marked the culmination of a three-year process to decide whether a 2010 complaint by Tempura’s former senior investigating officer, Martin Bridger, and the Cayman Islands governor’s office’s subsequent evaluation of it should be made public.
Justice Owen decided that an ongoing criminal investigation targeting Mr. Bridger allowed the governor’s office to withhold those records from release, essentially declaring the governor’s office victorious in its appeal against an earlier order from the information commissioner’s office that sought the release of those records.
The records relate to a 2010 complaint initially filed by the Tempura probe’s former legal adviser, Martin Polaine, which was carried forward later by Mr. Bridger. The complaint, which alleges misconduct by certain Cayman Islands judicial and legal figures involved in the Tempura probe, was dismissed by then-Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor.
Former Commissioner of Police Stuart Kernohan withdrew his lawsuit against Mr. Bridger. Mr. Kernohan was fired as commissioner following a criminal probe led by Mr. Bridger, but he was never charged and was eventually exonerated.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bridger confirmed that he has never been interviewed in connection with a criminal probe that is apparently going forward against him.
Drugs a frequent find on local beaches
Several million dollars worth of cocaine and ganja have washed up on Cayman shores over the past two-and-a-half years, police revealed. In total, 60 kilos of cocaine and 90 kilos of ganja had been found since January 2013. Authorities said traffickers using the Caribbean as a transit route from Central and South America to the U.S. were thought to be responsible for the drugs. Detectives said they could have been ditched by traffickers attempting to flee the U.S. Coast Guard.
MLA warns of revolution and bloodshed
North Side MLA Ezzard Miller warned of coming revolution and bloodshed in the streets if Cayman does not change immigration policies that impact employment of Caymanians. He was speaking in support of a private members’ motion that asked for the government to mandate that all business staffing plans be made public.
Several political and business leaders condemned the remarks. Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush noted that Cayman’s tourism and financial services sectors are both highly dependent on tranquility and stability, which he said “we must never allow to be compromised or called into question.”
Government ignores internal audits
The majority of recommendations made by the Cayman Islands’ own auditors during a five-year period were not implemented, a report obtained through the Freedom of Information law revealed.
Between May 2007 and July 2012, the government Internal Audit Unit produced 55 reports with a total of 327 recommendations. According to a follow-up review, 78 recommendations (about 24 percent) were fully implemented. A total of 166 recommendations (51 percent) had no progress indicated. The remaining 83 were either “automatically closed” because of age or were considered “no longer relevant.”
Austin Harris’s guilty plea
Austin Harris, Rooster 101 “Cayman Crosstalk’s” former radio host, escaped criminal prosecution after pleading guilty to assault and property damage in Summary Court.
Harris claimed to be under the influence of alcohol at a gathering at which he was seen by witnesses seizing a woman by the throat before being pulled away by an intervener. Harris claimed he had no recollection of the incident.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions proceeded with its case, though the victim wanted to avoid litigation after having given her statement to police.
Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez discharged Harris with no conviction recorded, saying “Everyone deserves a chance.”
MLA wants to prohibit handouts
George Town MLA Winston Connolly candidly expressed his concerns regarding the custom of cash exchange for votes and loyalty, between voters and politicians. The legislator proposed that there be a registry through which politicians would be able to administer their donations.
Implementing such a system, Mr. Connolly believes would assist in regulating where and to whom funds have been administered – and for what reason. With no regulations in place to prevent politicians from administering handouts, Mr. Connolly said he believed the proposed system would effectively assist in filtering out bought-out voters from other supporters.
Premier sues opposition leader
Public statements made by Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush provoked a lawsuit brought forward by Premier Alden McLaughlin. The grounds of the lawsuit included defamation charges – libel and slander – in addition to aggravated and other unspecified damages.
The West Bay MLA held suspicions that the premier – and other individuals not named – made attempts to remove the opposition leader from office, when he was lawfully premier of the Cayman Islands, and that the evidence – found in written correspondences – was “irrefutable,” and included the conspirators’ motive. Premier Alden McLaughlin said the allegations were “false and malicious.”
Cocaine found on Little Cayman
Police seized 15 kilograms in 15 separately wrapped packages that washed ashore on Point of Sand Beach, Little Cayman. This cocaine find was the third of its kind since April.
Bush sleeping controversy
A viral photograph of Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush surfaced the Internet, featuring the lawmaker apparently asleep in the Legislative Assembly chamber. Mr. Bush argued that the photo had been altered digitally by his adversaries in attempts to “deliberately attack” his character.
Jeffrey Webb arrested
FIFA Vice President Jeffrey Webb was arrested in Zurich, Switzerland, in connection with wire fraud, money laundering and racketeering charges. Following his arrest, Webb was “provisionally dismissed” as CONCACAF president, while he fought extradition to the U.S. He was later extradited.
Webb was accused of soliciting a bribe of US$3 million, and wiring a sum to an account at Fidelity Bank in Cayman, which was held by Costas Takkas, an acquaintance of Webb’s. The funds were allegedly ultimately transferred to the U.S., and used to pay for a swimming pool at a residence owned by Webb.
Premier describes Compass editorial as ‘a treasonous attack’
On June 5, Premier Alden McLaughlin, in the Legislative Assembly, denounced an editorial that had appeared in the Cayman Compass two days earlier. The editorial, an opinion piece, was titled ‘Corruption: An insidious, creeping crime’ and discussed the ongoing FIFA bribery scandal and which took a stance against various reports of corrupt acts in the Cayman Islands. Premier McLaughlin described the editorial as “a treasonous attack.” Legislators then voted on a motion by East End MLA Arden McLean to pull all sources of government advertising from the Compass as of July 1. After a few months, the furor over the issue died down, and Compass publishers David and Vicki Legge and Premier McLaughlin issued a joint statement on Oct. 23, indicating that government advertising would return the Compass and its associated publications.
Health City and alternative energy
To cut what would have been costly utility bills, Health City Cayman Islands proposed a 1.2-megawatt electricity generation scheme consisting of solar panels on four acres.
Acting Fire Chief John Bodden arrested
John Bodden, the acting fire chief of the Cayman Islands Fire Service, was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving in connection with a hit-and-run incident on Shamrock Road. Mr. Bodden allegedly fled the scene of the crime after two brothers – one aged 14, the other 21 – were struck while crossing the pedestrian crossing by Savannah Primary School on Jan. 26.
The 21-year-old was treated and then released by the Cayman Islands Hospital, while his 14-year-old brother sustained critical head and leg-related trauma and had to be hospitalized for several weeks.
Webb removed as president and vice president
After 24 years as president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, Jeffrey Webb was “provisionally” removed from that position due to the fraud charges he faced. Vice President Bruce Blake moved into the role of acting president.
Webb was also suspended by FIFA from all football-related activities, and removed as vice president of the international football federation.
Film festival launches
The first CayFilm International Film Festival, held in June, was billed as a “spectacular event” designed to promote the Cayman Islands as a world-class filming destination.
The festival featured workshops, talks, panels about acting and filmmaking, and screenings of 200 feature films, short films and documentaries from 50 countries. Thirty of the films were produced locally.
Man shot and killed
Jason Powery, 20, died after being shot in the head on the evening of July 1. Police were called to the Globe Bar in George Town where they found the West Bay man with what appeared to be a single gunshot wound to the head.
Primary school aide charged with indecent assault
A Bodden Town man who worked as a special support aide at a Cayman Islands primary school was charged with 10 counts of indecent assault relating to seven female victims ages 6 to 10. After reviewing psychological assessments, the court determined the man was fit to plead. He pleaded not guilty at a hearing in November and is scheduled to appear in court later this year.
Money transfer counters close
Western Union counters in the Cayman Islands closed without warning on July 17, after Fidelity Bank’s board of directors decided to end the service, due to increased risks and fees.
Cayman National followed suit in August when it also decided to stop providing banking services for money transfer companies. Remittance service Jamaica National continued operations but could only accept U.S. dollars.
In November, Western Union counters reopened through Jamaica-based GraceKennedy Remittance Services Ltd., while Jamaica National was still searching for a solution that would allow the firm to once again accept Cayman Islands dollars.
Community rushes to support 17 left homeless
A fire destroyed a family compound in George Town on July 24, leaving 17 people homeless. No one was injured in the blaze, and family and five tenants were temporarily relocated to the Westin resort. An immediate, spontaneous community fundraising effort, organized by Matthew Leslie of Cayman Islands Brewery raised thousands of dollars in donations, clothing, food, and food vouchers for the family.
Dart buys Barefoot Beach property
A $10 million piece of beachfront property in East End was acquired by a subsidiary of Dart Realty. The 20-acre site with 2,000 feet of white sand beach was once slated for a Mandarin Oriental hotel. Dart had no immediate future plans for the site.
Special Olympics team return home in triumph
The Cayman Islands team returned from the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles on Aug. 4 with 52 hard-earned medals. The team’s haul included 21 gold, 11 silver and 20 bronze medals, and many team members accomplished personal bests at the games. The delegation of 55 included 28 athletes.
The hidden costs of permanent residence applications
The Cayman Compass reported that unstated costs involved in applying for permanent residence in the Cayman Islands can add thousands of dollars to an already pricey endeavor. The up-front costs of filing for permanent residence can range from $3,000 to $30,000 depending on who is applying, and additional fees can add anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars to the application fees.
Two CAL employees arrested for human smuggling
Police arrested two Cayman Airways employees on Aug. 6 on suspicion of human smuggling. The two women, ages 33 and 29, were released on bail. They were allegedly involved in charging Cuban nationals to help them reach the United States. A third woman was arrested on Aug. 10 in connection with the alleged human smuggling operation.
MLAs’ secretary arrested in home invasion case
Christine Rae Smith, the secretary for George Town MLAs Roy McTaggart and Winston Connolly, was arrested Aug. 6 in connection with a June 26 home invasion in which a baby sitter and a 5-year-old girl were held at gunpoint, while a boy, 9, hid in his bedroom closet.
A 38-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of involvement in the home invasion and a robbery at the Elegant Nails Spa on July 10.
The home invasion prompted the largest Crime Stoppers reward in Cayman’s history, at more than $110,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the robbers.
Cable car solution proposed for cruise port
As Cayman debated a proposal to build a cruise dock in George Town harbor, another solution was offered: cable cars. James Whittaker, CEO of Next Development and the GreenTech group, presented plans to the government to use cable cars to bring cruise passengers into George Town. He believed the proposal would solve the cruise berthing problem at a cost of about $170 million, while also saving the reefs.
Police find bodies on drifting boat
Two decomposing bodies were found on board a small boat drifting southwest of Little Cayman on Aug. 25. The vessel was registered in Jamaica. As of Dec. 09, the bodies were still at the Grand Cayman morgue. The police have tentative identifications for both men, but as of press time had not formally released their names. The bodies had decomposed to the extent that a coroner who was brought to Cayman to perform the autopsies could not determine the cause of death.
Gay couple challenge Immigration decision
Law professor Leonardo Raznovich and his husband were at the center of a possible test case, challenging the “unequal” treatment of homosexual couples in the Cayman Islands.
Mr. Raznovich was told in June that his contract with the Truman Bodden Law School would not be renewed. His British husband then submitted an application to have Mr. Raznovich listed as a dependent on his work permit. The Immigration Board said it did not have the power to accommodate the request, and Mr. Raznovich faced deportation.
He appealed the board’s decision and was granted a visitor’s permit as an interim measure.
Premier: Government taking permanent resident ruling “seriously”
In early September, Premier Alden McLaughlin said that the government would provide a full response, making changes if and where necessary to its immigration regime in the wake of a court ruling that was critical of several aspects of the permanent residence system. Later that month, the premier said the “points system” used to evaluate applications for permanent residence made by non-Caymanians would be revisited.
Poor teaching blamed for school failures
Inspectors were highly critical of the teaching standards in Cayman’s schools in a series of damning reports released in September.
The reports were especially critical of Cayman’s teachers, stating that many have low expectations of what students can achieve, struggle to manage bad behavior, and arrive for lessons late and under-prepared.
The reports recommended substantial changes to the islands’ education system, and the Ministry of Education released a national “Plan of Action” aimed at addressing some of the issues raised.
Pioneer developer Rex Crighton passes away
Local pioneer land developer and realtor Rex Crighton died Sept. 14 at age 81. Mr. Crighton, who was one of the first Caymanian property developers founded the real estate company Crighton Properties Ltd., which has sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of properties over the years.
Residents warned over renting rooms to tourists
Several people who used home-sharing website Airbnb to advertise rooms for rent to tourists took down their listings after being told by officials that they needed a license from the Hotel Licensing Board.
The Department of Tourism confirmed that anyone who rents short-term accommodation of any kind must be licensed, inspected and pay relevant taxes and fees. In October, the Hotel Licensing Board said it would offer a three-month grace period for property owners to get their paperwork in order or get out of the business.
After December, anyone subletting rooms to visitors without a Tourism Accommodations License faces fines of $100 per day, per guest.
One man, one vote approved
Cayman Islands lawmakers approved a long-debated change to “one man, one vote” for the next general election cycle. In a 13-3 vote on Oct. 19, legislators decided the concept would be implemented in the form of 19 single-member voting districts or constituencies, adding one more elected seat to the assembly membership.
The current multi-member voting system in Cayman consists of six voting districts which allow residents anywhere from six votes to one vote, depending on where they live. The draft order approving the voting change to single member districts mandates that change take place prior to the May 2017 general election.
1,268 turtles died from illness at Turtle Farm in 2014
It was reported in October that from late April through July of 2014, 1,268 turtles died at the Cayman Turtle Farm from what was described then as a mysterious illness. The problem was later identified as an infection from Clostridium, the bacteria that can cause botulism, tetanus and other potentially serious health problems for humans.
The infection did not come to light for almost a year and a half until the information was finally revealed in a Freedom of Information law request and subsequent appeal for Cayman Turtle farm minutes.
Seaweed blankets Seven Mile Beach
The typically pristine shoreline along Seven Mile Beach was covered in massive amounts of unsightly sargassum seaweed in October, prompting clean-up operations. The invasion continued on beaches throughout for the island for weeks.
Dock protest draws 250-300
About 250 to 300 people attended a protest against the planned cruise ship berthing facility on Oct. 19 at the waterfront across from Cardinall Avenue.
At the beginning of October, Premier Alden McLaughlin had announced that the government had considered the environmental and economic implications and agreed to allow the project to proceed to the next stage.
$663K wasted on abandoned immigration fingerprint system
Government spent $663,000 on software after awarding a contract for a biometric fingerprinting system in 2010, but the software was never used, according to an audit released in October.
The electronic fingerprinting system was approved as part of the 2008 Immigration Law amendments. Government bought the equipment and software. Officials promised the program would be implemented in 2010, 2011 and again in 2013.
The 2013-2014 audit of the Ministry of Home Affairs appeared to have put the program to rest, taking the software off the ministry’s books.
FBI joins probe into comic book artist’s disappearance
Royal Cayman Islands Police confirmed that U.S. federal investigators are looking into the disappearance of Norman Lee, a comic book artist who went missing while snorkeling off Grand Cayman’s East End in March. The FBI was working with local authorities to investigate Mr. Lee’s disappearance.
Norwegian businessman killed in boating accident
Erik Henriksen, a Norwegian billionaire, was killed Nov. 9 in a boating accident in the North Sound. The 58-year-old businessman was thrown from his boat along with another man.
Mr. Henriksen was a founder, developer and investor in multiple energy and shipping businesses listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. He was also a philanthropist and founder of the Aqua Nirvana Foundation, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing clean and safe water to people in developing countries.
CarePay trial begins
Former chairman of the Health Services Authority board, Canover Watson, 44, went on trial for charges relating to the awarding of two contracts to the Cayman Islands public hospital system in 2010 and 2011.
His former personal assistant, Miriam Rodriguez, also faces charges in connection with the scheme, known as CarePay.
Prosecutors allege that Watson used his position as chairman to direct a multimillion-dollar healthcare contract to a company he and business associate Jeffrey Webb clandestinely controlled. The trial is continuing.
Eden calls for removal of ‘atheist’ head of Human Rights Commission
During a meeting of the Legislative Assembly on Nov. 18, Bodden Town MLA Anthony Eden suggested that the current chairman of the Human Rights Commission, James Austin-Smith, be replaced. Mr. Eden said he believes that “we do not need an atheist chairing our Cayman Islands Human Rights Commission.”
Mr. Austin-Smith has said in previous public appearances that he does not believe in God. Mr. Eden’s comments were made in relation to a polarizing motion he filed in August titled “The preservation of traditional marriages.”
Teenager dies in sea off South Sound
A 14-year-old boy died after getting into difficulty in the sea behind South Sound Cemetery on Nov. 27. Risco Batten was participating in a supervised group activity organized by the Bonaventure Boys Home, where he lived, when he got into difficulties while swimming. A coroner is investigating the circumstances around the teenager’s death, and an inquest is likely to be held this year.
Cayman Airways gets new boarding ramps
Cayman Airways purchased six new boarding ramps for its planes.
The ramps provide an inclined walkway to board or deplane and are designed to increase safety and comfort for passengers, especially those with limited mobility or who need wheelchair assistance.
U.K. fire service veteran named new chief
For the first time since the Cayman Islands Fire Service was created, a non-Caymanian was appointed to lead the department. The government introduced new fire chief David Hails, who is from the U.K., in early December.
The fire service had been without a full-time, permanent fire chief for two-and-a-half years.
Premier Alden McLaughlin said that he found it “disappointing” that no suitable Caymanian could be found for the role, but was “satisfied” with Mr. Hails’s leadership credentials. Mr. Hails has 37 years of firefighting experience.
Designs unveiled for Beach Bay resort
Designs for a planned US$250 million luxury resort in Bodden Town were unveiled Dec. 5 at an event in Miami Beach. Beach Bay Land Ltd. announced that Ten Arquitectos, a firm based in Mexico City and New York, won its design competition.
The resort, slated to open in late 2018, will feature a 200-room hotel and 90 residential units and include shops, restaurants and water sports.
Cruise anchor reef scare in George Town harbor
A patch of coral reef in George Town harbor suffered damage from a cruise ship anchor Dec. 9. A video of the damage went viral with more than a million views on YouTube, and the event made international headlines. Although the footage appeared to show live coral damaged by the ship’s anchor and chain, the Department of Environment said the ship, the MV Zenith, had dropped anchor legally in a designated zone.
Devon Anglin trial
After closing speeches on Dec. 10, Justice Charles Quin scheduled Jan. 19 as the date to deliver his judgment in the trial of Devon Anglin, who is charged with the Feb. 15, 2010 murder of 4-year-old Jeremiah Barnes.
Anglin was acquitted of the murder charge after trial in 2011, and he again chose trial by judge alone after the Court of Appeal overturned the earlier verdict.