TWO BANDITS CAUGHT RED-HANDED

Local man and Vincentian caught in the wee-hours of last Sunday  morning trying to break into  D.A Munroe & Sons  on Grenville Street

Police believe that two men caught in the act of trying to break-in the building of D.A Munroe early Sunday morning could be behind a series of criminal activities on the island in recent weeks.

Belmont resident Johnathan Richards Romain (left) and Vincentian national Cornelius Hackshire (right) are still under investigation for possible involvement in a string of criminal activities on the island

The men have been identified as 24-year-old Jonathan Richards of Belmont, St. George and 36-year-old Cornelius Hackshire who is originally from St. Vincent & The Grenadines.

The suspects have been slapped with a charge of ‘house breaking’ after allegedly breaking into the D.A Munroe and Sons Sunshine Snacks store located on Grenville Street in St. George’s sometime around 2.30 a.m.

An informed source told THE NEW TODAY that the police fired off approximately 11 shots in the direction of the bandits after surprising them on the night of the incident.

“I heard one young man saying look them (bandits) running down the road. Then I heard vehicles racing”, said a source in the area who was alerted to the commotion.

The arrested men were escorted to the St. George’s Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, where they were expected to make their first court appearance on the charge before Chief Magistrate Tamara Hill.

However, it is understood that the Police Prosecution, led by Corporal 147 Kerry Swan was unable to proceed with the case as the police files were not yet fully prepared for the court hearing.

Information reaching this newspaper is that the Grenadian and Vincentian could soon face additional charges as they are considered top suspects in a number of other related criminal matters, currently being investigated by officers attached to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

A source familiar with the investigation said that the delay in bringing the suspects to court was a result of the ongoing investigation.

“You see what normally happens is that CID will give them a sort of holding charge to have them legally in custody after the 48 hours would have passed to release them in order to continue with the investigations into other matters involving persons suspected of committing other crimes”, he remarked.

In an unrelated matter, the Community Relations Department (CRD) of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) has confirmed that one (1) man is in custody for questioning in connection with a crime of a sexual nature perpetrated against a female nurse attached to the St. Augustine Medical Services (SAMS) last week Tuesday.

According to eyewitnesses, the nurse was on her way home from work just after 7.00 p.m when she was accosted by a man, who proceeded to carry her to a secluded area along the St. Paul’s main road, in an area under The Summit better known as Holder’s Hill.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the man, whose name has been withheld, is said to be mentally challenged.

Ariza gives St. David its first ATM

Persons using the Ariza Credit Union’s most recently installed Automated-Teller Machine (ATM) in St. David have an opportunity to win extra money in the company’s ongoing ‘Stash of cash’ promotion.

The newly installed ATM located opposite the St. David’s Police Station

The ATM was launched last week in the community of Petite Esperance, just opposite the St. David’s Police Station.

As part of the promotion, which is geared at creating greater awareness about the newest addition to the Connex network family, extra cash amounting to $2, 500.00 was placed in the machine allowing for lucky persons to win extra cash with the use of their debit or credit card.

The promotion is an initiative of Ariza and is being facilitated by the Grenada Cooperative Bank Limited (GCBL) through the CONNEX network, shared between the bank, Ariza and the Caribbean Credit Cooperation.

The first ATM in the ‘virgin parish’ became operational on May 28 following a blessing and ribbon cutting ceremony by Father Carl Haynes of the Roman Catholic Church and former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Meryl Forsythe.

Also in attendance were community leaders in St. David, government officials, Ariza staff and members, several persons associated with the credit union movement and well-wishers.

Chief Executive Officer of Ariza, Lucia Livingston-Andall, who is also a member of the St. David community, told the gathering that the introduction of the new ATM was more than just another service being provided.

She said that in actuality it is the continuation of a dream “to make a difference and build the community we are part of,” adding that, “while we recognise the need to do daily transactions; we must not forget the credit union concept of thrift saving and wise investments.”

President of Ariza, Javan Williams expressed how important it was for Ariza to make ATM services available to members in their own backyard, noting that this new service allows members and the community alike, to save on transportation costs and time.

The brainchild of the Connex brand and representative of Grenada Co-operative Bank, Floyd Dowden who is the Executive Manager of Operations and Administration at GCBL, made brief remarks in which he congratulated Ariza on this milestone achievement.

“The new ATM at Petite Esperance came from the common goal between Ariza and Grenada Co-operative Bank Limited of surpassing customers’ expectations through its Connex network”, he said.

“Following its brand promise of financial freedom, Ariza continues to implement initiatives that simplify and enhance the lives of its members”, he added.

Representing Parliamentary Representative for the St. David’s constituency, Oliver Joseph at the ceremony was his personal assistant Brian Mc Sween, who noted that “the new ATM in St. David is a testimony of Ariza’s commitment to meeting you where you are and providing financial freedom.”

The Ariza/Connex ATM is the first of its kind to be launched by a financial institution in St. David.

Hood files another unfair dismissal claim

Since his return to private practice in October 2017 after a 4-year-stint as Attorney General to the Keith Mitchell-led government, Attorney-at-Law Cajeton Hood, has taken up several court matters literally challenging the authority of the administration on treatment meted out to public officers.

Attorney-at-Law Cajeton Hood

The latest action taken by Hood is on behalf of former Customs Officer Patrick Pysadee who worked at the Department for 28 years without a promotion and approximately six (6) years ago was transferred to the Central Statistics Office, where he claims to do close to nothing on a daily basis.

The former AG has a claim for unfair dismissal at the Supreme Court Registry on behalf of Pysadee.

Hood spoke of the court case during a local social media programme in which he claimed that his client was “refused promotion over the years while junior officers have been promoted ahead of him.”

The attorney charged that his client was being “ victimised “all because (while working) on the airport, he did the right thing and refused to clear some alcoholic beverages.

“He (the client) said to the airline official, I can’t do it (clear the alcoholic beverages because) I have to follow the Customs Act,” which stipulates a particular section at the airport to clear alcoholic beverages).

According to Attorney Hood no arrangements were made to have the bond open on that particular Sunday.

“So, he (Pysadee) worked at Customs for 28 years and was moved from Customs for that reason – that’s what we are saying to the court, those are my instructions and he has been in Statistics, approaching six (6) years, since 2013, by passed for promotion because he dared to stand up for what he learned in training,” he said.

Well-placed sources told THE NEW TODAY that Pysadee refused to facilitate the entry of several bottles of wines for a high-ranking member of the NNP regime as the shipment was not properly documented for entry into the country.

Attorney Hood is squaring off against the Mitchell-led Government on behalf of several persons including secondary school Teacher Donna Lusan for the unlawful deduction of her November 2018 salary, ex-Marketing Board CEO, Ruel Edwards, who is claiming unfair dismissal from his high paying job as Head of Economic and Technical Cooperation in the Ministry of Finance and President of the Public Workers Union (PWU) Rachel Roberts, who is also claiming among other things, unfair dismissal from her post as Senior Administrative Officer in the Ministry of Health late last year.

“It has become more prevalent over the years to remove public servants who are trained in certain areas of government to remove them and just place them in some other part of the public service …it is a waste of talent and public funds and it is wrong,” he said.

ECCB introduces new family of Polymer Notes

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has made history in the Caribbean by being the first Central Bank in the region to launch a family of Polymer Bank Notes.

Chairman of the ECCB Monetary Council Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and Governor of the ECCU, Timothy Antoine at the head table

Governor of the ECCU, Timothy Antoine, was in Grenada last Thursday for the official launch and unveiling of the $50 Polymer Note, which bears his signature and the image of the former Governor of the ECCB, the late Sir Dwight Venner.

The ceremony, which was attended by the wife of Sir Dwight, Lynda Venner, was held at the ECCB Agency Office at Monckton Street in St. George.

According to Antoine, the notes will be fazed out, where you would see the 100, 20, and 10 dollar notes being issued around September, 2019, and the five dollar notes, around September, 2020.

“The circulation of the EC notes will be fazed. As unfit Paper Notes are returned to the Central Bank, and our current inventory of Paper notes is depleted, they will be replaced by our Polymer Notes. Therefore, as a practical matter, the public ought to expect that both our Paper and Polymer Notes will be in circulation at the same time, and I want to assure you that they are both legal tender,” he said.

The Grenadian-born Antoine stated that the rationale behind the move to switch from paper to polymer was to enhance security and usability of the EC Notes.

He said: “In making our recommendation to the Monetary Council, the ECCB considered the following options – one, cotton paper, which is what we have now, our paper notes, two Cotton/Polymer combination, three, endurance high durability paper, and four, Polymer. From an economic standpoint, Polymer Notes are more cost effective than paper. Although Polymer notes are more expensive to produce upfront, their extended lifespan means that the notes are replaced less often”.

The ECCB Governor indicated that there would be a reduction in transportation and handling cost, which will in turn reduce the overall cost of cash for the ECCB, Commercial Banks, and Credit Unions.

“Compared to paper notes, Polymer Notes are cleaner – resistant to dirt and moisture, more secure – they have advanced security features which make them harder to counterfeit, more durable – they last at least three times longer than paper, and they are more environmentally friendly. Consequently, fisher folks and vendors and the people of the ECCU will soon have in their hands bank notes that are thinner, safer, and stronger,” he remarked.

ECCB Chairman Prime Minister Mitchell hand Polymer Note bearing the image of deceased former Governor, Sir Dwight Venner to his wife Lynda Venner

One of the more significant feature of the new Polymer Notes is the addition of Braille to make it easier for the visually impaired to conduct business.

Chairman of the ECCB Monetary Council, Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell of Grenada stated that the launch of the new family of EC Polymer Notes provides a clear demonstration of the bank’s leadership, innovation, and commitment to protecting its currency.

Dr. Mitchell said: “This is therefore, a significant achievement for the bank and by extension for all members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union. It was just over a year ago that the Monetary Council, acting on the advice of the bank, took the bold decision to change the material on which the EC Bank Notes are printed from paper to polymer.

“…The Council, which I now have the honour to chair, was convinced that the polymer substrates were more durable. From a security standpoint, the new polymer notes will allow for the introduction of more advanced features to better protect the EC currency, making it even stronger, and in a world of increasingly sophisticated criminal activities, security is foremost consideration among all of us,” he added.

Representative from the Resource Centre for the Blind, Sherry Hamlet, welcomed the initiative to assist the visually impaired.

“I know that for some of you this change is not as weighty as it is for me. After all, the paper notes that we have now, they are beautiful, they’re known all throughout the world for their beauty.

These Polymer Notes, however, I have had the blessing and the honour to engage with them before hand, and I can tell you when you hold this in your hand, it engages the senses in a way that is far more tactile. It’s amazing that something that seems like a small change can make such a big difference in the lives of so many people.

“…So, for people like myself, people who have lived and achieved with visual impairment all of my life, this is a tangible commitment by my government, by my region, that says that my right to independence, to equality, to privacy is just as important as everyone else’s, everyone who is regularly sighted.

“Ossie” Found Guilty of Patel Robbery

Ossie as he exited the St. George’s No. 1 High Court after the guilty verdict was handed down on Wednesday

The notorious Aldin Phillip better known as “Ossie” and “Lexus” was on Wednesday found guilty of Robbery with violence and Possession of a firearm in a split 7 -2 verdict, handed down by a 9-member jury at the St. George’s No. 1 High Court.

The jury handed down the verdict just after 5.00 p.m. before trial judge, Madam Justice Paula Gilford who will sentence Ossie for the crimes on July 9.

It was the Crown’s case during the trial that Phillip, along with three other men were responsible for the robbery at the Belmont home of St. George’s businessman Mahindra Patel on December 22, 2015 in which they used firearm to steal over EC$15, 000.00 from the house where Patel lived with his wife and son.

Ossie now faces a maximum sentence of 30 years imprisonment for the charge of Robbery with Violence and a lesser penalty of 20 years for Possession of a firearm.

PSC REMOVED AS PARTY IN SALARY DEDUCTION CASE

The matter involving the Government of Grenada with respect to the salary deduction of a teacher made during industrial action last year, came up for hearing Monday before the High Court.

The case was brought by secondary school teacher, Donna Marcelle Lusan with the defendants being the Cabinet of Ministers, the Minister of Finance, the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Attorney General.

Former Attorney General Cajeton Hood is the lawyer who filed the court papers on behalf of Lusan who is working at St. Joseph’s Convent-St. George’s.

The Public Service Commission was successful in its application to be removed as a party based on its constitutional duties.

On the substantive issue of the salary deduction for days not worked due to strike action, Justice Godfrey Smith encouraged the parties to settle since the claim amounts to about $500, according to a GIS release.

The issue remains whether Government has a right to deduct salary for periods not worked during an industrial dispute. The employee or claimant in this case, withheld labour and therefore Government withheld wages for the same period.

The outcome of this case will have significant implications for the wider public service and constitutional law in Grenada.

A date for the hearing of the matter has not yet been set.

Legal sources told THE NEW TODAY that the Keith Mitchell-led government would be hard-pressed to win the case as it cannot point to any law that gives it the right to deduct the salary of any public officer in Grenada.

An experienced lawyer said that the only body that is authorized under the Grenada Constitution to order the docking of salaries is the PSC itself and not the Cabinet.
Public sector workers in Grenada have two members sitting on the commission.

Peep inside SMC books

Auditors are now investigating the books of SpiceMas Corporation (SMC), the body which manages Grenada’s annual Carnival festival.

Newly installed SMC CEO Kelvin Jacob was not available for a comment on the issue

The corporation’s debt is said to be in the region of EC$1-million with dozens of contractors and service providers owed over several years.

When approached, newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of SpiceMas, Kelvin Jacob said he would not disclose the amount that the corporation is in the red by, although this figure was requested weeks ago at a media launch of the 2019 Carnival.

At the time Spice Mas officials had given a commitment to disclose the figure as it was not readily available at the time.

But Tuesday in a telephone conversation, Jacob said he would prefer to focus on plans for the 2019 season and not on the amount of money owed by the Corporation.

“We don’t want to disrupt the public now talking about the debt. People know that Spice Mas’is in debt. We don’t want this negative news”, he said.

Jacob stated that plans are going well for the festival, artistes are registering to participate and events are being launched.

According to well-placed sources, the SpiceMas body has not been audited in about five years and that State auditors have already investigated the 2015 and 2016 years and are now looking into the 2017 and 2018 financial records.

A major area of concern is said to be the arbitrary deferment of certain outstanding payments which made it appear as if the Corporation’s debt was decreasing, although creditors had not agreed to write-offs.

THE NEW TODAY understands that letters have been sent to several creditors requesting verification of outstanding invoices for services provided to SpiceMas over the years as this is a standard practice when an audit is being conducted.

Creditors include Southern Waste which provides portable toilets for SMC events and the Grenada Cultural Foundation (GCF) for services and the National Stadium Authority.

The Corporation is said to have faced increased expenses over the last four years while private corporate sponsorship had shrunk tremendously.

A source said that sponsors had been reluctant to contribute financially to the hosting of Carnival, citing negative attitudes from management.

The former CEO, Kirk Seetahal who had tendered his resignation prior to the 2018 Carnival, publicly complained about sponsors requesting complimentary tickets for events, as part of their sponsorship.

In 2018, when Spice Mas Corporation received a cheque for EC$35, 000 from mobile company Digicel, officials had hailed the company as the third largest sponsor, after government and the National Lotteries Authority.

Both government and NLA provide hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for the festival.

Flow, formerly Lime, had been the largest non-State sponsor and by 2015 the company had cut their support to quarter million dollars, down from EC$350, 000.

Eventually sponsorship dwindled to EC$30, 000 and finally the company pulled out from direct sponsorship.

SMC also lost its Grenada Breweries sponsorship which was EC$100, 000, when the Corporation rescinded the company’s pouring rights deal and opted to run its own bars at all official SMC events.

The corporation also did not do well with a magazine and T-shirts production, which had resulted in a spike in expenses.

On Tuesday Culture Minister Nolan Cox confirmed that the audit was being conducted and said that once completed it will be tabled in the Parliament and made public.

Historically audit reports are presented in the Parliament at least one to two years after being completed.

Cox admitted that the Ministry of Culture had not requested an audit of the SpiceMas accounts in several years.

The Minister was also unable to say what the current debt burden of the Corporation is, though he said there might be some adjustments.

He said the National Stadium Authority for instance, has responded to audit inquiries with an invoice amount greater than what is listed in the Corporation’s books.

6th Road Fatality for the Year

A St. John family was plunged into mourning on the weekend as Grenada recorded its 6th road fatality for 2019.

Teddy Fleming – lost his life in a road accident last week Saturday

Dead is 30-year-old Mt. Granby resident, Teddy Fleming, who died after the motor bike he was riding along the Lance-Aux-Epines main road collided with a black van last week Saturday just after 1.00 p.m.

According to Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Desmond Richards, who was part of the police investigating team visiting the scene of the accident, Fleming was heading in the direction of the Sugar Mill round-a-bout from inside Lance Aux Epines when the collision occurred.

ASP Richards said Fleming was pronounced dead by the medical practitioner who was called to the scene of the accident.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the impact of the collision knocked Fleming of his motor bike and into the path of an incoming motor car, which a source said ran him over before coming to a complete stop.

“He was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident,” a well-placed source said.

Fleming’s body has been entrusted to the Otway Bailey Funeral Home with funeral arrangements pending.

PSC removed as defendant in teacher’s case

Newly appointed high court civil judge, Justice Godfrey Smith has ruled in favour of an application brought by lawyers for the Public Service Commission (PSC) to get the body removed as a defendant in a Constitutional claim filed by Secondary School Teacher Donna Marcelle Lusan in January 28.

The case was filed by former Attorney-General, Cajeton Hood who has been retained by Lusan, a teacher at St. Joseph’s Convent, St. George’s against the PSC as well as the Cabinet of Ministers, Minister of Finance, and Attorney General.

The teacher took legal action after her salary was docked by EC$1, 200 as the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government lashed out at public officers including teachers who took strike action in November on the 25% pension and gratuity payment issue.

The application to remove the PSC as a party on the claim was filed by the law Firm of Seon & Associates and the matter came up for its first hearing on Monday before Justice Smith.

The government’s legal team was led by Trinidadian Attorney-at-Law, Douglas Mendez (SC), who has been retained by the Integrity Commission for its case against former Marketing Board Chief Executive Officer, Ruel Edwards.

Justice Smith on Monday reportedly encouraged the parties to settle on the claim that was before him.

However, attorney Hood is taking issue with a release put out by the Government of Grenada on Monday which said that the $500.00 that was deducted from the teacher’s salary would be returned to her.

The former AG described the statement as “misleading” as this was not what was agreed upon during the hearing.

He said: “There is an agreement on both sides that on behalf of the Attorney General, Cabinet and the Ministry of Finance that they would pay to my client the sum of $1, 200 as cost and we are going (to) withdraw our application and accept the affidavits and that is the truth – it has nothing to do with $500.00”.

The attorney said he finds it shocking that the government sought to sell the story to the public by distorting the facts.

“What transpired is that $1, 200, was deducted from my client’s salary for November 2018 (and) they realised that a part of those days she was actually supervising children who were in a debate…so they put back the money for those days…that’s what happened…”, he added.

The issue however still remains whether or not the Mitchell-led government has a right to deduct monies for days not worked during an industrial dispute.

The outcome of this case would have significant implications on the wider public service and constitutional law in Grenada.

In an earlier interview with THE NEW TODAY, Attorney Hood said he “cannot recall any case in which a government, an Executive, decided contrary to the Constitution, to refuse to pay the full salary of workers who they claim were on strike.”

An experienced lawyer has said that the only body that is authorised under the Grenada Constitution to order the docking of salaries is the PSC itself and not the Cabinet.

A date for the next hearing of the substantive matter has not yet been set.

Attorney Ferguson commends incoming CCJ Judge

Attorney-at-Law Ruggles Ferguson has commended the work of Trinidadian Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Peter Jamadar, who was selected by the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC) to replace Caribbean Court of Justice Judge, David Hayton, who will retire in July after spending 14 years with the court.

Judge David Hayton will retire from the CCJ in July

“He is an excellent writer and has a great mind. He has a very impressive history as a judge (and is) particularly strong in administrative law, judicial review and constitutional matters (and) his judgments have been looked upon very favourably by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and there are several cases where his judgments have been cited by the Privy Council,” said Attorney Ferguson in an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY.

Justice Jamadar currently serves as a Judge of the Trinidad and Tobago Court of Appeal, a position he held since 2008. Prior to his appointment, he worked in private practice until he was appointed a Judge of the High Court of Trinidad & Tobago.

CCJ President and Chairman of the RJLSC, Justice Adrian Saunders is quoted as saying that the incoming judge “has developed a well-earned reputation throughout the Caribbean and the Commonwealth for his well-reasoned judgments and his outstanding work as a judicial educator.”

According to Justice Saunders, Jamadar’s exemplary leadership of the Judicial Education Institute of Trinidad and Tobago (JEITT) “has contributed significantly to the success of that body, which has recently developed and rolled out a Gender Protocol for the Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago.

“Justice Jamadar will undoubtedly be a welcome addition to our Bench”, he remarked.

According to information obtained from the CCJ’s website, the RJLSC advertised for the position of Judge in 2018 and received 18 submissions from applicants in the region and from Africa, Australia, Europe and North America.

In September 2018, eight (8) applicants were interviewed, subjected to background investigations and a rigorous selection process by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC).

From that process, the commission selected Barbadian Justice Andrew Burgess, who was sworn in recently, and Justice Jamadar who will be sworn in on a date to be announced replacing the outgoing judge.

Trinidadian Judge Peter Jamadar is the newest judge to be appointed to the CCJ

Judge Hayton, a national of the United Kingdom (UK), is one of the founding judges of the CCJ, appointed shortly after the inauguration of the court in April 2005.

He is the only UK national on the court and is considered as one of the lead experts and authors in the area of law called the law of trusts.

Approximately two (2) weeks ago, the CCJ held a special sitting in honour of Justice Hayton, who is quoted as saying at the event that it was “an absolute honour, a privilege and a delight working in the CCJ these last 14 years.”

“It is, of course, a very privileged position to be on the CCJ Bench to serve Caribbean peoples, whether pursuant to the Court’s central Original Jurisdiction role, to flesh out and to police the skeleton structure of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. Also, pursuant to the Court’s extensive role in the Appellate Jurisdiction, to develop the domestic laws of CARICOM member states as most appropriate to the circumstances of those States”, he said.

“Both Jurisdictions should contribute to developing the wealth and happiness of Caribbean peoples under the rule of law promoted in the constitutions of CARICOM States,” the outgoing judge added.

Judge Hayton delivered his final judgment last week Wednesday via a video conference sitting of the Court in the matter brought against the Government of Trinidad & Tobago by Grenadian national David Bain, who was being represented by Attorney Ferguson.

“I think it would be a loss for the court because he is one of the very experienced judges…but in life, after a certain age you move on and others take up the baton so, in a sense, there is a great feat of history here because this was his final sitting of the court and this was the final judgment that he read to end his 14-year tenure on the court,” Attorney Ferguson said.