New Brunswick

Dennis Oland released on bail by N.B. Court of Appeal, pending retrial

Dennis Oland has been granted bail by the New Brunswick Court of Appeal, a day after his second-degree murder conviction was quashed.

Oland faces new trial on 2nd-degree murder charge in death of his father, Richard Oland, in 2011

Dennis Oland has been released on bail by the New Brunswick Court of Appeal, a day after his second-degree murder conviction was quashed. 1:41

Dennis Oland has been released on bail by the New Brunswick Court of Appeal, a day after his second-degree murder conviction was quashed.

He offered no comment to reporters as he left the Fredericton courthouse on Tuesday afternoon, holding hands with his wife, Lisa and one of his teenage daughters.

​Justice Marc Richard said "any reasonable member of the public would understand that Mr. Oland has reacquired the presumption of innocence" after a three-member Court of Appeal panel overturned the jury's guilty verdict in the 2011 bludgeoning death of his father, multimillionaire Richard Oland.

Dennis Oland met the reverse onus of proving his continued detention is not necessary to ensure he will attend court, to protect the public, or to maintain the public's confidence in the administration of justice, said Richard, who had previously denied Oland bail while awaiting his appeal.

"In the end, I conclude the public's confidence in the administration of justice would be undermined rather than advanced by detaining Mr. Oland any further," Richard said.
Dennis Oland has been released on bail by Justice Marc Richard in the New Brunswick Court of Appeal, a day after his second-degree murder conviction was quashed 1:17

Oland, who was sitting in the prisoner's box at the back of the courtroom with a sheriff's deputy on either side of him smiled at supporters when the decision was delivered. One of his teenage daughters quietly cried tears of joy.

The judge reinstated the same bail conditions Oland was under when he was released in November 2013 while awaiting his first trial, as requested by the defence.

We're just very happy about it.- Derek Oland , uncle

"He's proven himself," argued lawyer Alan Gold.

Those conditions include keeping the peace and being of good behaviour, surrendering his passport, notifying police of any travel outside New Brunswick, residing at his home in Rothesay and notifying police of any change of address.

A $50,000 surety from his uncle Derek Oland, the victim's brother and the executive chairman of Moosehead Breweries, was again required.

Crown prosecutor Kathryn Gregory had requested $200,000 in sureties — half from Oland's uncle, half from his mother, Connie Oland. But Richard said increasing the amount was unnecessary.

"We're just very happy about it," Derek Oland told CBC News of his nephew's release.

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)
Dennis Oland, 48, has been in prison since Dec. 19, 2015, serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 10 years.

"Obviously we're delighted that this Christmas is going to be a lot better for [the Oland family] than last Christmas was," Gold said outside the courthouse.

Oland is scheduled to appear in Saint John Court of Queen's Bench on Dec. 5, when a new trial date could be set.

Asked whether he might seek a trial by judge alone this time, Gold replied: "I don't want to discuss anything about the future right now. Obviously there's a lot of work that has to be done.

"Let's just leave it that we're delighted at how things have gone in the last two days."

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, homicides are automatically tried by judge and jury. Oland could request to be tried by judge alone, but the Crown would need to consent. Similarly, the Crown could ask for a judge alone trial, but the defence would need to agree.

The Attorney General's office has declined to comment, saying it would be inappropriate where the matter is still before the court.

Gold said he and fellow defence lawyers Gary Miller and James McConnell expect Oland's Supreme Court of Canada bail appeal to proceed in Ottawa on Oct. 31, even though it's now a moot point for Oland.

They sought leave to the country's highest court after the New Brunswick Court of Appeal twice refused to release Oland on bail pending his appeal.

Defence lawyer Alan Gold declined to discuss whether Dennis Oland might seek to be tried by judge alone instead of judge and jury. (Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon/CBC)
"There is every reason why [the Supreme Court] would proceed with it" after having agreed to hear the matter, believing the question of when to grant bail on appeal is an issue of national importance, said Gold.

But it is the court's decision, and the lawyers are waiting for confirmation this week, he said.

The Court of Appeal panel ordered a new trial Monday, citing the trial judge's "fundamentally flawed" instructions to the jurors last fall on how they should deal with Oland's incorrect statement to Saint John police about what jacket he was wearing on the night his father was killed.

Dennis Oland told police he was wearing a navy blazer when he visited his father at his Saint John investment firm office on July 6, 2011, but video surveillance showed he was actually wearing a brown sports jacket.

Forensic testing later showed the brown sports jacket, which had been dry cleaned, had four small bloodstains on it and DNA matching his father's profile.

The body of Richard Oland, 69, was discovered lying face down in a pool of blood in his office on July 7, 2011. He had suffered 45 blunt and sharp-force injuries to his head, neck and hands. No weapon was ever found.

His son Dennis was the last known person to see him alive at his office the night before.