Dennis Oland preliminary inquiry on murder charge begins

A publication ban has been ordered on evidence presented at the preliminary inquiry of Dennis Oland, who is accused of killing his father nearly three years ago.

Oland is accused of killing his father, Richard Oland, in 2011

The preliminary inquiry of Dennis Oland, who is accused of killing his father nearly three years ago, begins. 1:56

A publication ban has been ordered on evidence presented at the preliminary inquiry of Dennis Oland, who is accused of killing his father nearly three years ago.

Richard Oland, a prominent businessman, was found dead in his uptown office on July 7, 2011. He was 69.

Dennis Oland was arrested on Nov. 12, 2013, more than two years after his father's death. (CBC)
Dennis Oland, 46, his only son, is charged with second-degree murder.

The preliminary inquiry, which began Monday in Saint John provincial court, is intended to test the strength of the Crown's case and determine if there's enough evidence to proceed to a trial.

It is scheduled to take 20 days, extending into mid-July.

Judge Ronald LeBlanc has been brought in from Bathurst to hear the matter. He was selected by Chief Judge Pierre Arseneault based on several factors, including availability and absence of any conflict of interest.

There are 23 provincial court judges in New Brunswick, eight supernumerary judges and two per diem judges.

LeBlanc, who was named to the bench in 2002, previously served as a Crown prosecutor based in the Moncton area for several years.

LeBlanc imposed the publication ban, at the request of the defence.

The publication ban may only be lifted if Oland is discharged, or at the end of a trial, if a trial is ordered.

LeBlanc also ordered all witnesses to leave the courtroom, except while they are testifying, and that they not discuss their testimony with any pending witnesses.

Graphic photos

Businessman Richard Oland was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)
A police officer was called as the Crown's first witness.

The Crown had an elaborate set up of computers and monitors to present evidence in the case, including numerous photographs.

Defence lawyer Gary Miller, of Fredericton, had suggested the judge turn off the monitor facing the gallery while any graphic photos were displayed.

But the judge refused, saying the exhibits were being displayed in an open courtroom to everyone who wanted to see them.

Instead, he advised the gallery that some of the photos would be graphic and they were welcome to leave if they didn't want to see them.

​Oland's mother, Constance, and one of his sisters, Jacqueline Walsh, stepped out during part of the proceedings.

Oland averted his eyes, but appeared to be listening intently from the front row of the courtroom, with his elbows resting on his knees and his chin in his hand.

Several supporters

Before the hearing began, Oland, who is free on bail, was chatting and laughing with Miller. He is also being represented by Alan Gold, of Toronto, although Gold said very little on Monday.

Oland, who was sporting a dark suit, white shirt and striped tie, had several family members with him, including his uncle, Derek Oland, the executive chairman of Moosehead Breweries Limited, who posted a $50,000 surety when he was granted bail on Nov. 18, 2013.

During a brief recess, the accused greeted other supporters with a handshake or hug.

Oland, an investment adviser, was arrested on Nov. 12, 2013 and charged the following day. He spent six nights in jail before being released from custody.

Some of the conditions of his release were that he surrender his passport, advise police of any travel outside New Brunswick, maintain his residence at 58 Gondola Point Rd., in Rothesay, and inform police of any change in his address.

He has remained free on bail and his extended family has stood by him.

The preliminary inquiry is set to resume on Wednesday and Thursday this week and continue May 21-23. It will resume again June 9-12 and June 23-24, and continue July 7-10 and July 14-17. 

The Crown prosecutors are John Henheffer, Patrick Wilbur and Derek Weaver.

Richard Oland fought to bring the Canada Games to Saint John in 1985, served as the president of the New Brunswick Museum, and was honoured as an officer of the Order of Canada in 1997, for his efforts as an entrepreneur with a social conscience.

He was also a competitive sailor, who participated in races around the world.

At the time of his death, he was the president of Far End Corp., an investment firm.