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Portia Simpson Miller

Simpson Miller bids farewell and urges government to reverse tax package

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mar. 16, CMC – Leader of the main opposition People’s National Party (PNP), Portia Simpson Miller added her voice to others who have called on the Andrew Holness administration to reverse the J$13.5 billion (One Jamaica dollar =US$0.008 cents) tax package announced by Finance Minister Audley Shaw.

Portia Simpson Miller “This is “tax-perity” gone wild, said Simpson Miller as she made her final contribution to the 2017/2018 budget debate as opposition leader on Thursday .

She accused the government of taxing group health insurance and fuel, among other things.

“The people were promised no new taxes to implement the $1.5 million tax threshold. Yet in only 12 months the people have been devastated with over $29 billion in new and unnecessary taxes to finance the so-called give back,” adding that “the administration’s version of prosperity is a fleeting illusion to be pursued but never attained.”

“It is the reckless political promises that were made that has caused us to be at this point today. We warned that if the tax threshold was lifted, you would have had to impose new taxes on the backs of the people – that’s what we said. This is what is now happening. Now hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans will have to pay even though they will not benefit.

They will have to bear the costs of your recklessness – this could have been avoided. It is the biggest political trick to have ever been perpetrated on the Jamaican people,” she said.

The former Prime also expressed disappointment at an election promise made by Holness that crime will be addressed.

“I am disappointed that after one year in office, this Government has not delivered the promised crime plan, this is clearly not good enough.

“I am expecting that when the Prime Minister speaks next week, he will announce more resources for our security and intelligence teams to outmatch, outwit and out maneuver the criminals.”

She noted that social issues are the “root cause” of crime and violence and insisted that “every single Jamaican has a vested interest in the fight to defeat the spiraling crime”.

On the issue of crime and women, the opposition leader called for the increased protection of women.

“If necessary, we need to establish a committee with persons from both sides and meet with security forces to see what is causing so many murders in the country. It had seized, but it is rising again. Too many of our women are being murdered and it’s disheartening…too many have been victims of domestic abuse, rape and murder. We are now at a point of crisis.”

Simpson Miller who also reflected on her legacy, said the moment was “bitter sweet”.

“I’ve seen the good, the bad, the happy and the sad, but above all I’ve had an incredible journey of service to my beloved people and country. Empowering and uplifting the people has been central to me…from the poor and dispossessed to the rich and the powerful. I remain as convinced today as I was 43 years ago that beyond racial origins we must believe in ourselves and our common destiny when we work together.”

The former Prime Minister who was lauded, not only by members of the opposition PNP, but legislators from the Jamaica Labour Party said that she will never stop believing “in the potential of the Jamaica people and their capacity for greatness…I have always believed that it is the people who have the ultimate power not us. It is on their behalf and in their interest that we must always exercise power.

She will step down as opposition leader on April 2, paving the way for the ascent of Dr. Peter Phillips.

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Killer jailed for 35 years

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Mar 15, CMC – A 25-year-old man has been sentenced to 35 years in jail after he was convicted of murdering a fellow Bermudian outside a popular sports club in 2015.

Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons said Shantoine Burrows showed “some premeditation” in committing the murder of Rickai Swan, 26, and displayed the “mind-set of a person intent on killing”.

court rulShe described video capturing the murder played during his trial as “chilling”.

Swan was gunned down outside the Southampton Rangers Sports Club — a team he grew up playing football for — in October 2015.

Burrows must serve a minimum sentence of 25 years for the murder and the judge said his 10-year sentence for use of a firearm in committing the murder does not start until after the 25 years.

Burrows was convicted last October of the fatal shooting of Swan, who was socialising with friends outside of the club.  A jury found Burrows unanimously guilty of the charges last year and he was remanded in custody. He was also found guilty of injuring Damiko Gibbons.

Crown counsel Nicole Smith described the murder as a “public execution”, which displayed “no mitigating circumstances”.

She described Burrows as “not a man of good character”, devoid of respect for the law or remorse for his crime.

But in addressing the court, Burrows maintained his innocence.

“I still stand before you an innocent man,” he said, adding “justice wasn’t served.”

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illegal weapons

More than 150 illegal guns seized in jamaica so far this year

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mar 15, CMC – National Security Minister, Robert Montague, says more than 150 guns and over 1, 500 rounds of ammunition have been seized by law enforcement authorities so far this year.

Montague said that up until March 11 this year, 163 illegal guns and 1,684 rounds of ammunition had been seized as compared with 116 illegal guns and 1, 592 rounds of ammunition for the same period last year.

illegal weapons“We are making progress in taking the illegal weapons and ammunition off the streets, but that is not good enough. We must get to the supply which is the root cause of our problems, because the more we take up, it also tells us that more is coming in,” the National Security Minister said during the handing over of a BULLETTRAX-3D System to the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine.

He said that last year, more than 700 illegal guns and 8,721 rounds of ammunition were seized under the “Get the Guns” campaign.

“We are working very hard to dry up the supply of illicit firearms and ammunition in Jamaica,” Montague said, adding that the Andrew Holness government has been working very closely with international partners to stop the flow of illicit firearms and ammunition in Jamaica.

He said a review of the Firearms Licensing Authority (FLA) has been undertaken, while the operations have been “tightened” to ensure that legal gun owners are properly vetted, appropriately trained in the handling and keeping of firearms and are held accountable.

“Legal gun owners cannot enable criminal access to guns and ammunition through negligence or irresponsible actions. Every firearm and every round of ammunition in the country will be properly accounted for. We cannot stamp out the scourge of crime and murders in Jamaica unless we overcome our gun problem,” Montague said, noting that 70 per cent of the murders committed in Jamaica involve the use of firearms.

Under the “Get the Guns” campaign, the police intercept illegal firearms entering the island as well as recover guns from criminals. Monetary rewards are offered to the public for information that leads to the seizure of the weapons.

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15-year-old on murder charge

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 14, CMC- A 15-year-old boy is due to re-appear in court on March 27 after he was charged with the murder of a retired member of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force during the Carnival celebrations.

court rulThe boy, appeared before Deputy Chief Magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle in the Port of Spain Eighth Magistrate’s Court on Monday charged with killing 56-year-old Calvert James, who died on February 27, Carnival Monday, from multiple stab wounds.

The retired soldier was killed during an incident on the outskirts of the capital. The Director of Public Prosecution, Roger Gaspard SC, on March 11, gave instructions to charge the teenager with murder.

The teenager, who cannot be identified because of his age as he deemed a minor by law, has since been remanded to the St Michael’s Boys Rehabilitation Centre.

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Shawn Richardss

Government condemns shooting incident at home of Deputy Prime Minister

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Mar 10, CMC – The St. Kitts-Nevis government Friday condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the shooting incident that occurred at the home of the Deputy Prime Minister Shawn Richards.

Shawn Richardss
Deputy Prime Minister Shawn Richards

A brief government statement noted that the security forces “have been mobilized to deal with this latest dastardly act to undermine safety and security in the country as they continue to do their best to maintain law and order for all citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis”.

The statement gave no details of the shooting incident, but noted that Richards and his family “were not hurt physically and are safe.

Media reports here said that gunshots were fired at the Sandy Point home of the minister and his prvate vehicle early on Friday.

The police said they responded to the report of gunfire at around 3:15 a.m. (local time) and observed damages to the house and the vehicle consistent with gunshots.  The value of the damage is unknown.

“Many law abiding citizens and residents have conveyed well wishes to the minister and his family, while expressing their abhorrence of the cowardly incident,” the government said, praising God for ensuring the safety of the minister and his family.

“The Government wishes to reassure all that it will not be deterred in the fight against crime and will continue to fully support the security forces in the protection of all the citizens and residents,” the statement said, urging persons to “cooperate with the Police if they have any information on the incident.

“Persons who may have information can share that information anonymously by calling any station, Crime Stoppers or by using the SKN Crime Reporter App on their smartphones,” the statement added.

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Pastor jailed for having sex with a minor

Pastor jailed for having sex with a minor

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mar 10, CMC – A pastor has been jailed for 20 years after he was found guilty of having sex with a minor two years ago.

Justice Lorna Shelly Williams Friday sentenced Pastor Reverend Paul Hanniford of the Pentecostal City Mission Church after he was found guilty by a seven-member jury on January 24.

Rape fear – alarm

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (OFPP) said the complainant, who is now 15 years old, testified in court that on March 12, 2015, she and her five-year-old brother went to the church for choir practice and after the rehearsal they asked the pastor for a ride. 

But the Home Court was told that the child, who was a member of the Pentecostal City Mission Church and was baptised by Hanniford was taken to the pastor’s home in Kingston.

“The pastor gave the five-year-old some cornflakes to eat. The complainant requested the use of the bathroom and while there in the bathroom the pastor entered. The complainant was pushed by the pastor outside the bathroom onto a bed that was inside a nearby bedroom and sexually assaulted her,” the ODPP said in the statement.

The Court was told that the child managed to push the pastor off and went outside of the bedroom to meet her brother, who had heard her cries for help.

The statement said that the brother had climbed onto a chair and peeped through a hole in the door and observed Pastor Hanniford sexually assaulting his sister which made him feel “sad”.

According to the evidence presented to the court, after the incident the pastor gave them some cornflakes to eat and later warned the complainant not to tell anyone as it was their “secret”.

He took them back to the church where the mother of the children met them. The complainant’s brother made a report to his mother in the presence of the pastor about what he had seen.

The following day a meeting was convened at the church with the bishop, the pastor, the complainant, her brother and the children’s parents.

On April 14, 2015, a report was made to the police and the pastor was arrested. He was subsequently charged.

In his defence at the trial, the pastor denied having sexual intercourse with the complainant and said that he had given the children a drive out but not on the day in question.

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Narcoitics report

US names a number of Caribbean countries as major drug-transit countries

WASHINGTON, Mar 3, CMC – The United States Friday named several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries as major illicit drug producing and  major drug-transit countries with some regional countries also being major money laundering countries,

The US Department of State’s “International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR),” notes that the Bahamas, Belize, Haiti and Jamaica, are among 22 countries worldwide considered major drug producing or major drug transit countries.

Narcoitics report“Haiti remains a transit point for cocaine originating in South America and marijuana originating in Jamaica, en route to the United States and other markets. This traffic takes advantage of Haiti’s severely under-patrolled maritime borders, particularly on the northern and southern coasts.

“Haiti is not a significant producer of illicit drugs for export, although there is cultivation of cannabis for local consumption. Haiti’s primarily subsistence-level economy does not provide an environment conducive to high levels of domestic drug use,” Washington noted.

The report notes that Jamaica remains the largest Caribbean supplier of marijuana to the United States and local Caribbean islands.

“Although cocaine and synthetic drugs are not produced locally, Jamaica is a transit point for drugs trafficked from South America to North America and other international markets.”

Washington noted that in 2016, drug production and trafficking were enabled and accompanied by organized crime, domestic and international gang activity, and police and government corruption.

The report noted that illicit drugs are also a means of exchange for illegally-trafficked firearms entering the country, exacerbating Jamaica’s security situation.

“Drugs flow from and through Jamaica by maritime conveyance, air freight, human couriers, and private aircraft. Marijuana and cocaine are trafficked from and through Jamaica into other Caribbean nations, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

“Jamaica is a transit point for cocaine moving from Central America to the United States, and some drug trafficking organizations exchange Jamaican marijuana for cocaine. Factors that contribute to drug trafficking include the country’s convenient geographic position as a way point for illicit drugs trafficked from Latin America; its lengthy, rugged, and difficult-to patrol coastline; a high volume of tourist travel and airline traffic; its status as a major trans-shipment hub for maritime containerized cargo; inadequate educational and employment opportunities for at-risk youth who engage in crime; and a struggling economy that encourages marijuana cultivation in rural areas.”

The report also named the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, the Eastern Caribbean, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, as major money laundering countries.

“A major money laundering country is defined by statute as one “whose financial institutions engage in currency transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from international narcotics trafficking.”

But the report noted that the complex nature of money laundering transactions makes it difficult in many cases to distinguish the proceeds of narcotics trafficking from the proceeds of other serious crime. “Moreover, financial institutions engaging in transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds of other serious crime are vulnerable to narcotics-related money laundering.”

Washington said that this year’s list of major money laundering countries recognizes this relationship by including all countries and other jurisdictions, whose financial institutions engage in transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from all serious crime.

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DPP at court opening

No retrial for Warren Cassell

By Bennette Roach

The Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal (ECCA) accepted all the arguments that were put forward in presenting the appeal against the Montserrat Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) desire to retry Cassell. The DPP argued generally that “the main consideration is whether in the interest of  the community and  the victim, a person who is convicted of a serious crime  should be brought to justice and not escape merely because of technical shortcomings in the conduct of the trial or in the directions to the jury…”

The appeal court headed by acting President of Appeal Justice Louise Blenman refused DPP Oris Sullivan’s request and his bid to retry Attorney-at-Law Warren Cassell, who previously had his conviction squashed by the Privy Council. On Tuesday this week, Cassell was back in court in a bid to fend off this latest bid to have him retried by the Montserrat D.P.P.

Attorney at Law Warren Cassell

The Privy Council in its last ruling, quashing all the convictions, had indicated that any matter to do with a retrial was down to the ECCA. The matter then came back to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal who has ruled that it is not in the interest of justice to order a retrial.

The ECCA judges this time upheld the arguments of Cassell’s Attorney, Dr. David Dorsett arguments in their final decision.

Last July, Attorney Cassell, had multiple convictions quashed by the Privy Council.  Nonetheless, the Privy Council (which is still the final appellate court for the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat) maintained that any issue for retrial should be resolved in the local courts.  As a result, the ECCA invited written arguments from both parties on the issue.

The learned DPP argued that retrial was necessary to establish guilt or innocence of the charges.  However, during his oral presentation, he was asked by Justice Louise Blenman for case law where a retrial was re-ordered in similar circumstances. Mr. Sullivan was unable to provide one.

In his written submissions, Cassell’s Attorney-at-Law Dr. David Dorsett argued that Cassell had served his two-year sentence in full and a retrial would serve no purpose since he cannot be sentenced for any time more than the sentence past in the first trial.

In delivering an oral unanimous ruling, Justice Mario Michel noted that there were several factors that the court ought to consider in deciding whether to order a retrial including:

  • Seriousness of offence
  • Nature of offence
  • Strength of evidence against the appellant
  • Publicity which the trial had obtained and whether it would operate to prejudice the appellant; and
  • Interest of justice.

Justice Michel further reasoned that Cassell had already served his full sentence and that the DPP has failed to provide any case law where a person who served all of his sentence and was still retried.  In conclusion, Justice Michel stated that: “we are of the view that the interest of justice would not be served by ordering a retrial.”   
The Court sought from Sullivan arguments to support his request for a retrial against Dr. Dorsett’s arguments that had been laid prior before them along with those of the DPP.

One argument that Attorney Dorsett, whom the Court told that it was not necessary to address after hearing from the DPP, was “The court did not order a retrial but indicated that the Prosecution was at liberty to do so.,” noting that no re-trial was ever pursued.

He also argued: “…it cannot be maintained that the offences for which the Appellants have been convicted (i.e Conspiracy to defraud and Procuring the Execution of a Valuable Security by Deception), fall into the category of being “serious”.

“While the Appellants are in no way trivializing the said offences an examination of the cases reveal that the courts consider offences such as Murder, Manslaughter, Robbery and Drug Trafficking as serious crimes – offences for which the sentences vary from 20 years to life imprisonment.”

That ends a chapter of Cassell’s life that he says will be very interesting when recaptured in a book. Cassell is the author of several books already, and is the editor at

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Canadian national pleads guilty in the death of four-year-old boy

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Feb 24, CMC – A High Court has ordered a Canadian national to pay EC$75,000 (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) in compensation to the estate of four year-old Terrel ‘TJ Elibox, who drowned in 2015.

court rulSahab Jamshidi was given the alternative of spending three years in jail if the fine was not paid. He has since paid the money and is due to leave here this week.

The former medical student Tuesday pleaded guilty to causing death by recklessness or gross negligence, 14 months after he pleaded not guilty during his first court appearance.

The prosecution had alleged that Sahab had carried the four-year-old into the sea on a kiteboard on February 22, 2015, without the consent of his guardians, and caused his death.

But Sahab told the court that he kitesurfing with friends in Vieux-Fort, south of here, when he spotted Elibox, who was on a church organised beach outing, in the water and called for help.

The Canadian was formally charged after the boy’s body was discovered two days later.

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Guyana Soldiers on charges of stealing milk and butter

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Feb 21, CMC – Three soldier are due to return to court here on March 6 after they were charged with stealing milk and butter from the Guyana defence Force (GDF).

crimemeThe soldiers – Victor Logan, 27, Kevin Fitz, 26 and Richard Charles- appeared were released on GUY$50,000 (One Guyana dollar =US$0.004 cents) bail each when they appeared in the Georgetown Magistrates Court caught stealing 11 bags of milk and seven cases of butter from the GDF Headquarters, Camp Ayanganna.

The three were caught goods hidden in a car that they were driving out of the base.

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