Dennis Oland pressured to confess to father's murder by police

Saint John police pushed hard to get Dennis Oland to confess to his father's murder, just hours after Richard Oland's bludgeoned body was discovered, newly released evidence reveals.

Second half of videotaped statement, never seen by jury, made public by judge

Saint John police pushed hard to get Dennis Oland to confess to his father's murder, just hours after Richard Oland's bludgeoned body was discovered, newly released evidence reveals. 2:29:19

Saint John police pushed hard to get Dennis Oland to confess to his father's murder, just hours after Richard Oland's bludgeoned body was discovered, newly released evidence reveals.

"You are without a doubt the person that's responsible for your father's death," Const. Keith Copeland told Dennis Oland on July 7, 2011, after he voluntarily went to the police station to give a statement to help with the homicide investigation.

"The whodunit is gone, it's out the window. We know whodunit," said Copeland. "So it comes down to, really Dennis, all it is, is [it] a question of greed, or passion?"

Dennis Oland, 47, has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years for second-degree murder in the 2011 death of his father, prominent businessman Richard Oland. (CBC)
Copeland made the comments during the second half of Oland's videotaped statement, which was made public on Thursday, after CBC News petitioned the Court of Queen's Bench.

The estimated 2½-hour video was not seen by the jury that found Oland guilty of second-degree murder on Dec.19.

Oland, 47, was sentenced on Thursday to life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 10 years.

His lawyers are appealing the conviction, calling it an "unreasonable verdict." They are also requesting he be released on bail, pending his appeal. A bail hearing is scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m., at the Court of Appeal in Fredericton.

On Thursday afternoon, Justice John Walsh ruled Oland's full videotaped statement to police should be released, citing the importance of openness and transparency in court proceedings.

Const. Stephen Davidson was one of the officers who interviewed Dennis Oland just hours after his father's murder. Part of the interview, which was not shown to the jury, was released to the public on Thursday. (CBC)
Only the first portion was entered into evidence at Oland's trial last fall, but all of it had been submitted to the court during his preliminary inquiry, held to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.

The second half of the video shows two officers taking turns interrogating Oland in what appears to be a good cop-bad cop technique.

The first officer, Const. Stephen Davidson, asks Oland about his "strained" relationship with his father and what it felt like growing up being "belittled" and "embarrassed" all the time. He suggests Oland is a "good person," but said resentment can build up over the years and everyone has a breaking point.

Copeland, who was the second interrogator, tells Oland he's in "way over" his head, that his body language suggests he's guilty and that his story about the events of July 6, 2011, when he was the last known person to see his father alive at his uptown investment firm office, is "full of holes."

Officer tells victim's son to 'man up'

Copeland contends Richard Oland, 69, was a "mean son of a bitch," who was controlling and tight with his multimillions, and a "dirty pig," who "disrespected" his family by having an extramarital affair. Copeland suggests no one in the family seems terribly upset about his death and floats the theory that Dennis's wife or mother might have been in on the slaying.

He also hints that if Oland doesn't "man up," police will be forced to dig into the lives of everyone in the family and leave "no stone unturned."

You just accused me of being the cause of death of my father, so I don't like that at all.- Dennis Oland to police

Oland maintains throughout the five-hour interview he did not kill his father. He asks to speak to his lawyer, asks the officers to "back off," then largely ignores them, even closing his eyes at times, until they release him shortly after 11 p.m.

The newly released portion begins where the first half presented at the trial left off, around 8:25 p.m., when Oland went from being considered a witness, to being deemed a suspect, according to Davidson's testimony.

In the video, Davidson tells Oland there are inconsistencies in his story. He advises Oland of his right to contact a lawyer and asks him if he wants to exercise that right.

"Given how uncomfortable I'm feeling, yes, I would, sure, exercise my right," Oland responds.

Lawyer called

They exit the small interview room and return minutes later after Oland called lawyer and family friend Bill Teed, who specializes primarily in corporate and commercial law.

"Dennis, given our conversation, there's no doubt in my mind that you did this," Davidson says.

"Did what?" asks Oland, showing no emotion.

"You had involvement in this death. And I want to know why," says Davidson, urging him to take advantage of the opportunity to have a conversation and explain what happened.

"Because of your tone, what you just said, I choose not to take advantage of that opportunity," says Oland. "You just accused me of being the cause of death of my father, so I don't like that at all."

Davidson persists.

'I'd like you to back off,' Oland tells police

Oland says he wants to wait for his lawyer to get there, but Davidson says he already had his opportunity to speak to his lawyer.

"I understood, from what you were telling me, that if I wanted to have a lawyer, that I should get a lawyer … So all I did was just say, 'They're telling me I should have a lawyer, can you come in?' So that's all I did," says Oland.

There's a knock at the door because Teed has called back. Oland and Davidson leave the room again for a few minutes. When they return, Davidson resumes his questioning.

"My lawyer advised me over and over on the phone, 'Don't talk to these people, don't say another word.'" says Oland. "I'd like you to back off," he adds, appearing to become increasingly agitated.

I don't think you're a bad person, I think bad things happened.- Const. Stephen Davidson

"Listen, I understand the relationship you and your father had wasn't a good one," continues Davidson, picking up on some comments Oland had made earlier in the interview.

"He was hard on you. You never amounted to what he wanted. That bothered you. I'm sure that resentment you carried through, your whole life, even till now."

"I never said that," counters Oland. "He was very proud of me."

"OK, you guys had a strained relationship," says Davidson. "It wasn't a regular father-son relationship."

The officer asks if "it" was spontaneous, or planned. Oland doesn't respond.

"I don't think you're a bad person, I think bad things happened," says Davidson. "You get a feel for a person … I don't think you're cold, heartless."

Good cop-bad cop

There's another knock at the door around 8:55 p.m. and Davidson leaves. Oland, who is sitting with his legs crossed, yawns, scratches the back of his head and casually rotates his foot in the air.

About a minute later, Copeland enters, introduces himself as being a member of the major crime unit, and shakes Oland's hand.

Right away, Copeland accuses Oland of lying. He says what Oland told Davidson about July 6 differed from what he had put in a written statement before the interview started, including the sequence of events and how many trips he made to his father's office that night.

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)
Copeland suggests the reason Oland left the first time before even seeing his father was not because he forgot a genealogy document, as he claimed, but because he went there to confront his father, likely about money, and "chickened out."

"If I grew up in your circumstances, with money all around you, at this stage of my life I would expect to be sharing in some of that, not battling with that son of a bitch every single day and having him control every aspect of my life because he wouldn't give up any of his God damned money," Copeland says, raising his voice.

"You didn't plan this Dennis. He brought this on. Pushed you, pushed you, pushed you. Squeezed you. Rubbed your face in the fact that he controls it all."

Copeland pulls his chair closer to Oland, leans toward him, with his elbow on his knees, but Oland avoids eye contact, sitting with his arms and legs crossed, or sometimes doubled over.

"Do you want the evidence to show that you sat in a chair and closed your eyes and for all intents and purposes appear to be sleeping while I'm trying to talk to you about this?" Copeland asks him. "Is that the image you want to project? No remorse. 'And guess what copper, I'm gonna have a snooze while you're talking to me about being a cold-blooded killer.'"

Copeland suggests the best way to deal with a mistake is to acknowledge it and move on.

"If I did anything wrong, the lawyer will likely tell me to fess up. If I didn't do anything wrong, the lawyer will," Oland says before Copeland interrupts.

Copeland says Oland's opportunity to tell his story is "growing wings. Will you tell me what happened? It's a yes or no."

"No," says Oland.

"We're done," Copeland says, leading Oland out of the room.

The body of Richard Oland, 69, was discovered lying face down in a pool of blood in his office. He had suffered 45 sharp and blunt force injuries to his head, neck and hands. No weapon was ever found.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.