Dennis Oland denied bail as he awaits murder conviction appeal
Court of Appeal justice says releasing Oland would undermine public's confidence in justice system
Dennis Oland has been denied the bail release he was seeking as he waits to appeal his second-degree murder conviction in the 2011 slaying of his father, New Brunswick multimillionare Richard Oland.
- Dennis Oland bail decision could be precedent-setting in New Brunswick
- Dennis Oland getting bail pending appeal is 'virtually assured'
- Dennis Oland getting bail pending appeal is 'tricky question,' says expert
Court of Appeal Justice J.C. Marc Richard delivered the decision not to grant bail on Wednesday afternoon in Fredericton, in front of a packed courtroom.
Bail has never been granted to a convicted murderer in New Brunswick.
Richard said Oland met the first two conditions required under the Criminal Code to be considered for release: his appeal is not "frivolous" and he's not considered a flight risk.
Should Mr. Oland be released in these circumstances, the confidence of the reasonable member of the public in the administration of criminal justice would be undermined.- J.C. Marc Richard, Court of Appeal justice
The third condition — whether Oland's detention is required in the public's interest — was the most difficult, he said.
Although Richard was satisfied Oland wouldn't be a danger to the public, he said releasing him would send the wrong message to the public.
He said citizens have confidence in the jury system —"one of the fundamental institutions of the justice system" — and believe verdicts are reached after jurors hear all of the evidence.
"In my respectful view, that reasonable member of the public would find that, although the grounds of appeal may be clearly arguable, none fall in the category of the unique circumstances that would virtually assure a new trial or an acquittal," Richard's14-page decision stated.
Oland, who was sitting in the prisoner's box in the courtroom, didn't seem surprised by the decision, but his mother, Connie Oland, doubled over, sobbing.
His wife, Lisa Andrik-Oland, reached out and grabbed his hand before he was led away by sheriff's deputies, his feet shackled. Once he left the courtroom, she started to cry too.
Oland's family declined to comment outside the courthouse, but released a statement shortly after Richard's decision. The family said the decision to refuse bail is difficult to accept.
Family won't rest
"We know Dennis has been wrongly convicted and are confident our appeal will see justice prevail," the statement said.
"His prolonged absence will be incredibly difficult and only serves to further compound the loss and anguish our family has suffered."
"We will continue our long legal battle by pursuing every option to prove Dennis's innocence. We will not rest until he is home and Dick's killer is found."
Oland, who has been in custody at the Saint John Regional Correctional Centre since Dec. 19, will now be transferred to an undisclosed federal prison to await his appeal.
A date for the the hearing has not been set yet, but it likely won't be scheduled until at least October because a transcript of the three-month trial has to be prepared.
Dennis Oland's wife, mother, sister and other supporters leave w/o comment <a href="https://t.co/RgJHIcRtC6">pic.twitter.com/RgJHIcRtC6</a>—@BJMCBC
Leading up to Wednesday's hearing, the Crown said there had only been 21 cases across Canada where convicted murderers were granted bail, and it should only occur in "exceptional" circumstances to protect the public's respect and confidence in the administration of justice.
Defence lawyer Alan Gold had argued on behalf of Oland's defence team during a bail hearing on Feb. 12 and submitted a 65-page legal brief.
"It is respectfully submitted that the grounds in this appeal are not frivolous," said Gold, citing case law where "frivolous" has been defined as having "no reasonable prospect of success."
Gold said Oland was not a flight risk and has already demonstrated he would surrender himself into custody.
Oland was released on bail following his arrest in November 2013, remained on bail throughout his preliminary inquiry, complying with the conditions of his release, and did not flee after being committed to stand trial, he said.
Gold also refuted an argument that Oland's sentence could be a "significant incentive" to flee.
"This argument has been put to bed for some time," he said citing cases in 2001 and 2011.
Appeal may not be heard until October
Gold argued that Oland's release would not shake the public's confidence in the justice system.
He contended it would help foster faith in it.
Hear more about the Oland case on the fifth estate's Murder in the Family, Friday at 9:30 NT on CBC-TV.
Gold also stressed the estimated eight-month delay before an appeal can be scheduled.
"In that event, [Oland] would have been in custody for close to a year and perhaps longer by the date of this honourable court's decision," wrote Gold.
"This is another factor which tips the scale in favour of reviewability over enforceability."
'Reasonable' public would support release
Gold also cited case law where one element of public interest to be weighed is the support of members of his community.
Richard heard arguments from both the Crown and defence during a bail hearing on Feb. 12, but reserved his decision, saying he needed time to review the material.
Jury decision of guilt was unanimous
Oland, 48, had been sentenced the day before to life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 10 years for the bludgeoning death of his father.
He was found guilty by a jury in Saint John's Court of Queen's Bench on Dec. 19 following 30 hours of deliberations over the course of four days.
The body of Richard Oland, 69, was discovered lying face down in a pool of blood in his Saint John investment firm office on July 7, 2011. He had suffered 45 sharp and blunt force injuries to his head, neck and hands. No weapon was ever found.
Oland told police he was wearing a navy blazer that night, but video surveillance and witness testimony showed he was wearing a brown jacket.
A brown jacket seized from his bedroom closet a week later was found to have three small bloodstains on it and the DNA extracted from those areas matched his father's DNA profile.
Of the 21 murder cases across Canada where bail has been granted, seven of them involved ministerial reviews, two involved "fresh evidence" and another two involved "possible consent," the Crown has said.
If Oland is ultimately granted bail, the Crown will be seeking $400,000 in sureties — half from his mother, Connie Oland, and half from his uncle, Derek Oland, the executive chairman of Moosehead Breweries Ltd.
The Crown would also want him to be placed under the same conditions he was under when he was granted bail while awaiting his trial.
Those included surrendering his passport, advising police of any travel outside New Brunswick, maintaining his residence in Rothesay and advising police of any change of address.
Justice J.C. Marc Richard's decision (PDF KB)
Justice J.C. Marc Richard's decision (Text KB)CBC is not responsible for 3rd party content