Burglary suspects are refused legal aid

Next step might be applying for legal aid to appeal decision

Two men in court last week for conspiracy to commit burglary had their applications for legal aid refused, attorneys said on Monday. 

Nevertheless, attorneys John Furniss and James Stenning continued with their applications for bail on behalf of defendants Johan Manuel Acosta-Sierra, 25, and Trinidad Alcontara Bienvenido, 31, both of an Eastern Avenue address. 

They are Dominicans here on work permits – Acosta-Sierra as a chef and Bienvenido in a hairdressing salon. 

Mr. Furniss appeared for both men on June 19 and 23, and has spent considerable time with them, but said it was now clear that they required separate representation. He noted that legal aid had been applied for on the basis of the conspiracy charge; now the men face a new charge of burglary and would have to re-apply for legal aid on that basis. Then the court would be asked to have the grant backdated. 

The Legal Aid Law includes burglary as a “scheduled offense,” meaning one included on a list of offenses for which the court shall grant legal aid to someone who does not have the means to instruct an attorney. Conspiracy is not a scheduled offense. 

Mr. Stenning said he was quite alarmed by the legal aid refusal, especially when a man’s liberty was at stake. He said an application might have to be made under the Bill of Rights. “My client should have representation appointed by the state,” he said of Acosta-Sierra. 

“For me to stop representing him would put my client at a great disadvantage,” he added, explaining that the man’s English was limited. A Spanish-language interpreter has been assisting at all court hearings. 

Details of the conspiracy charge are that the two men conspired together with a unknown person on or before June 15, 2015, to commit the offense of burglary in the South Sound area. 

The new burglary charge was brought against them separately, but the details are the same: that each man entered a premises at a stated address as a trespasser between June 7–9 and stole a 45-inch flat screen TV, two bronze table lamps and a flashlight, with a total value of US$2,650. 

Crown counsel Scott Wainwright listed his objections to bail. 

Magistrate Grace Donalds heard in detail from the defense attorneys, who put forward people in the community who would stand as sureties.  

The magistrate ruled that bail would be withheld and the defendants remanded in custody. Their next court appearance will be on Tuesday, July 7. 


  1. I know it’s been mentioned before, but really how did these two obtain work permits. Put aside the fact that they can’t speak English, are there no locals that are qualified to be a chef (which I’m guessing means a line cook) or work in a hairdressing salon? This is the type of immigration that should anger Caymanians.

  2. In an English speaking country, how does one even obtain a Work Permit or a job for that matter. You would think the first requirement would be to learn how to communicate. On the flip side, I am sure that there’s plenty of qualified Caymanians that can do these jobs, how many of them will take the jobs for what is pay is another story especially when it’s already been established that public assistance pays more than these types of jobs.

    An investigation into how these two received the WP and what processes were followed may just be warranted.