New Brunswick

Dennis Oland appeal judge rejects lawyer's suggestion there was no animosity with dad

New Brunswick's top judge rejects the notion that Dennis Oland had a normal relationship with the father he was convicted of killing — multimillionaire businessman Richard Oland.

N.B. Court of Appeal Chief Justice Ernest Drapeau quotes from Oland's statement to police after murder

A judge in New Brunswick's top court has rejected the notion that Dennis Oland had a normal relationship with the father he was convicted of killing — multimillionaire businessman Richard Oland.

Chief Justice Ernest Drapeau of the Court of Appeal on Tuesday referred to evidence of a strained father-son relationship as he spoke during Oland's appeal hearing, which resumes Wednesday at 10 a.m. AT in Fredericton.

Oland's defence team is seeking to have his second-degree murder conviction in the 2011 death of his father overturned, and either an acquittal entered or a new trial ordered.

Defence lawyers contend the jury verdict in December was "unreasonable" and a "miscarriage of justice." They also argue the trial judge made errors in allowing certain evidence to be admitted and errors in his instructions to the jury.

Alan Gold, who is presenting arguments on behalf of the defence team, suggested to the three-justice appeal panel there was no evidence of animosity between father and son presented at Oland's jury trial last fall.

Ernest Drapeau, chief justice of the Court of Appeal of New Brunswick, rejected Dennis Oland's lawyer's idea that there was no animosity between Oland and his father. (CBC)
But Drapeau quoted heavily from Oland's statement to police on July 7, 2011, the day his 69-year-old father's body was discovered lying face down in a pool of blood in his Saint John investment office. 

CBC is livestreaming Dennis Oland's murder conviction appeal hearing, which began Tuesday and is expected to end Thursday in the Court of Appeal of New Brunswick.

Oland told police his father was not "the easiest guy in the world to get along with," Drapeau said.

"He talks about his father embarrassing him in front of strangers on a sailboat. He talks about his father humiliating him at a dinner," and "treating him like a waiter," said Drapeau.

"The relationship I see here is a very difficult one … That's part of the cocktail, don't you think, the jury could hear?"

Dennis Oland, who was escorted by sheriff's deputies to a waiting van following his appeal hearing on Tuesday, is expected back in court on Wednesday. (CBC)
Gold countered saying those were a few isolated incidents over a number of years.

"In my respectful submission, there's nothing unusual in his description of his relationship with that kind of a father," said Gold.

Drapeau went on to recount the section of Oland's police statement about his father's extramarital affair, when he says his sister, Lisa Bustin, found a bottle of Viagra and thought their father was a "dirty pig."

"Now that, to me, is not a fine relationship between a father and a son," said Drapeau.

Gold stressed Oland didn't say that was his own opinion; he was only saying what his sister thought.

Drapeau didn't budge.

"That he'd relay that, the day after his father was killed, to a police officer, that his sister described him as a dirty pig, doesn't evidence for me … a fine relationship between father and son," the judge said.

Oland's lawyers are expected to finish presenting their case by noon on Wednesday. The Appeal Court will then hear arguments from the Crown before rendering a decision, possibly as early as Thursday afternoon.

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)
Oland, 48, was found guilty of second-degree murder by a jury on Dec. 19, 2015. He is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 10 years.

Oland, who was shackled and flanked by sheriff's deputies in the prisoner's box during Tuesday's court appearance, smiled and joked with family members and other supporters during a short recess.

"You owe me seven bucks for cab fare, Dad," his teenage daughter said. "You should have told him $14," a sheriff's deputy quipped.