Two years for four business burglaries

Three burglaries committed while on police bail

A man who pleaded guilty to the burglary of four business premises was sentenced on Wednesday to two years imprisonment. 

Magistrate Philippa McFarlane said she would recommend that the defendant, Rogelio Regado Acena, be deported after completing his sentence. 

Acena, 44, had pleaded not guilty to the four charges and they were set for trial; at least six witnesses were present Wednesday morning. They were thanked for their attendance and released after the defendant entered his new pleas. 

Defense attorney John Furniss said he and the Tagalog language interpreter had spoken with Acena several times and explained the forensic evidence – including blood and fingerprints – that the Crown had against him, but Acena had maintained his not guilty pleas because he was ashamed. 

Mr. Furniss told the court that his client had been well respected by his employer and fellow employees. He had worked here 2004-2010 and then was rolled over. He went home to the Philippines and returned to Cayman in 2012. 

The burglaries apparently began when Acena’s teenaged son in the Philippines became sick and needed money for medical treatment. 

Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson said the first burglary occurred at the Digicel store in Countryside Village in the early hours of Nov. 27, 2014. The store was equipped with an alarm system and CCTV. When the store manager arrived, he saw that a back window had been forced open. He called the security company and CCTV footage was reviewed. 

Between 1:16 and 2:19 a.m., a short male was observed going in and out; each time he left the premises he had an items in his hand. The stolen goods included cell phones and tablets with a total value of $4,792. 

Police received information and went to Cash Wiz in George Town, where a black Nokia was recovered. Documentation for the transaction showed it was Acena who had brought in the phone for a $100 loan. 

Police continued their investigation by going to Acena’s place of employment. There the manager gave them a phone and tablet which had been handed over to him by a security guard who said Acena had given him the items as security for a loan of $1,000.  

Acena was arrested on Dec. 2. When cautioned, he said he had found the phone behind a building when he dropped his girlfriend off for work. Officers searched his vehicle and found the receipt from Cash Wiz. He was bailed by police and returned for several more interviews with an attorney and interpreter resent. 

Asked about the tablet he had given to the security guard at his work place, he said he had won it in a raffle; the woman who ran the raffle had since returned to the Philippines, he told police. 

He was bailed again until Feb. 28, but did not show up. By this time, he had stopped going to work. His employer attempted to contact him several times, but efforts were futile. The employer then wrote to Immigration saying Acena was no longer employed; his work permit was canceled on March 10 this year. 

The next three burglaries occurred on March 10, 25 and 26. A concrete block was thrown through the front glass of a beauty salon on Smith Road and $400 was stolen; blood spots were seen on the floor and police took swabs for DNA analysis. 

A concrete block was thrown through glass at the front of a premises on Eastern Avenue and goods with a total value of $800 were stolen. Again, officers found traces of blood at the scene and swabs were taken for DNA analysis. 

The last burglary was at a bar on Shamrock Road, where a rear window was smashed. Two point-of-sale computers, valued at $3,300, were stolen. One was found outside the premises and fingerprints were obtained from it. 

Mr. Ferguson said the DNA and fingerprints from the March crime scenes matched the samples Acena had provided when he was processed in connection with the November burglary. 

Mr. Furniss asked that his client be given credit for his guilty pleas; even though they had come late, they had still saved the court time, he said.  

The magistrate told Acena that, based on what she had heard, he had made a sensible decision when he changed his pleas. As a man of mature age and good reputation, he had to know what poor decisions he had made when he thought he had to commit these crimes. As a result, he will almost certainly not be allowed to return to Cayman. 

She pointed out that the last three burglaries were committed while on police bail for the first one and this was an aggravating feature. Because of his previous good character, the first sentence would have been nine months, but she reduced this to six months because of the guilty plea. For the next burglaries, if they had gone to trial, the sentence would have been 24 months each, but she gave him a one-fourth discount for his pleas. 

The resulting 18 month sentences are to run concurrently, but consecutive to the six months, for a total of two years. For overstaying after his work permit was canceled, he received 30 days, also concurrent.