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Appeal to block City of Hamilton takeover set to go ahead

City Hall in Hamilton (File photograph)

The Corporation of Hamilton’s legal fight to block legislation to make it a quango will reach the Court of Appeal this week.

The Corporation launched legal action against both the Attorney-General and the Governor alleging that the Municipalities Amendment Act 2019 was unconstitutional.

While Chief Justice Narinder Hargun rejected the claims in a ruling in March, the municipality filed an appeal.

The Municipalities Amendment Act was designed to turn the Corporation of Hamilton and St George into quangos.

The minister would appoint the mayors and half of the councillors and the other councillors would be appointed by the minister on the recommendation of a selection committee.

The legislation was approved by the House of Assembly, but rejected by the Senate after independent and Opposition senators voted against it.

However the legislation could now be brought back to the House of Assembly and – if approved – be implemented without the support of the Senate.

The Corporation argued the Bill would grant Government “overwhelming” control of the municipalities and their properties, which would amount to an unconstitutional deprivation of property.

But the Government argued the municipalities would retain control of their properties as quangos and the legislation would improve co-operation between the Corporations and the Government.

Mr Justice Hargun found that the Government claiming control – even total control – of the municipalities would not amount to depriving the Corporations of property.

He said: “The Corporation as a legal entity continues to own the assets as before and there is no suggestion that there has been any diminution of their value.”

The appeal is scheduled to take place over two days on Wednesday and Thursday.

The matter is one of several to be heard during the Court of Appeal’s November sitting.

James Robert Rumley, 40, will attempt to overturn his conviction for smuggling firearm parts into Bermuda in 2019.

The Supreme Court heard that Customs officers discovered the gun parts hidden in three packages mailed from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Bermuda in June and October that year.

None of the packages listed Rumley as the sender, but he was seen on CCTV at FedEx when all three were sent.

One of the packages was addressed to someone Rumley went to school with, another to the mother of Rumley’s child and the third to Rumley’s home address.

Rumley admitted that he had been involved in the postage of all three packages, but denied any knowledge of the gun parts hidden inside.

He told the court he was hired through an online delivery service to take the first package – and a customer – to FedEx and had no other connection to it.

Rumley said he mailed the second two packages days before he flew back to Bermuda because his luggage was full, but had no idea how the gun parts came to be inside.

A jury found him guilty of all three charges by a unanimous verdict and Rumley was later sentenced to serve 14 years behind bars.

Meanwhile prosecutors will seek to increase the sentence of Dwayne Creary, who was disqualified from the road after he caused a 2018 crash which cost a woman her toe and left her teenage son in need of heart surgery.

Creary was originally banned from driving for five years, but the Supreme Court reduced the period to two years after Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams found the magistrate had incorrectly sentenced Creary as if he were a repeat offender.

Magistrates’ Court heard that on July 1, 2018, the complainant was riding a motorcycle east along South Road in Paget with her teenaged son on the back of the vehicle.

As she approached the entrance to the Elbow Beach Hotel, she was struck head-on by Creary, who was travelling west at a high rate of speed when he drifted into the eastbound lane.

As a result of the collision, the mother suffered multiple fractures to her pelvis and her femur and her big toe was amputated.

Her son also suffered injuries in the collision, most seriously a cardiovascular arterial tear which required surgery at Lahey Health Clinic in Massachusetts.

After a trial in Magistrates’ Court, Creary was found guilty of two counts of causing grievous bodily harm by driving without due care and attention.

Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo banned Creary from the roads for two-and-a-half years for each offence, with the periods to run consecutively, along with $5,000 in fines.

Mrs Justice Subair Williams said that while she understood the magistrate’s reasoning, he had wrongly sentenced Creary on the basis that he had committed two offences, and that a two-year period of disqualification was obligatory.

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