New Brunswick

Dennis Oland appeals murder conviction, seeks bail

Dennis Oland is appealing his second-degree murder conviction in the 2011 death of his father, prominent New Brunswick businessman Richard Oland, and seeking bail, pending the appeal.

Defence lawyers Alan Gold, Gary Miller, filed documents with New Brunswick Court of Appeal

Dennis Oland, 47, is facing life in prison after a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder in the 2011 death of his father, prominent businessman Richard Oland. (CBC)

Dennis Oland is appealing his second-degree murder conviction in the 2011 death of his father, prominent New Brunswick businessman Richard Oland, and seeking bail, pending the appeal.

His lawyers filed the notice of appeal and notice of an application for bail with the New Brunswick Court of Appeal in Fredericton on Wednesday.

They are seeking to have the conviction quashed, and either an acquittal entered or a new trial ordered.

"The verdict of guilty of second-degree murder was an unreasonable verdict in law and not one that a reasonable jury, properly instructed, could judicially have arrived at," the documents state.

Oland, 47, was found guilty by a jury in Court of Queen's Bench in Saint John on Dec. 19, following 30 hours of deliberations over the course of four days.

He is in custody at the Saint John Regional Correctional Centre, according to the documents, and is scheduled to have a sentencing hearing at the Saint John Law Courts building on Feb. 11 at 9:30 a.m.

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)
The bludgeoned 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. The multimillionaire had suffered 45 sharp and blunt force injuries to his head, neck and hands.

Dennis Oland's lawyers cite Court of Queen's Bench Justice John Walsh's "misdirection or non-direction" to the jury, and his decision to admit certain pieces of evidence as grounds for an appeal.

They contend, for example, that forensic evidence obtained from Oland's blood-stained brown sports jacket — a key piece of evidence in the Crown's case — should not have been allowed because the search warrant did not authorize the forensic testing.

They also allege that lead Crown prosecutor P.J. Veniot "engaged in speculation" on several issues during his closing address to the jury, including an alleged spontaneous argument Oland had with his father over money or his father's extramarital affair, "notwithstanding a complete absence of any evidence in support of such extravagant claims," and without questioning Oland about the allegations during cross-examination.

Crown prosecutors could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Crown has 15 days to file a notice of cross-appeal.

Would abide by any conditions

Affidavits by Oland, his mother, Constance (Connie) Oland, and his uncle, Derek Oland, have been filed in support of his request for interim release.

Oland contends he is not a flight risk. He notes he took multiple trips out of the country following his father's slaying and always returned. He also abided by the conditions of his bail while awaiting trial.

"If this honourable court were to release me pending my appeal, I would keep the peace and be of good behaviour and comply with whatever reasonable conditions this honourable court may impose," the affidavit states.

If released, Oland says he would live with his wife, Lisa, at their home in Rothesay, and resume serving as director of his father's three companies.

I further believe that my son respects me and would not do anything to jeopardize my trust in him.- Constance Oland, convicted murderer's mother

His mother says she believes he would fully comply with any conditions if he is released.

"I further believe that my son respects me and would not do anything to jeopardize my trust in him," her sworn affidavit states.

"In the event that I learn that my son has failed to comply with any of the conditions of his release, I will contact the Saint John Police Force and advise them accordingly."

Derek Oland, who is the executive chairman of Moosehead Breweries, has offered to provide a surety for his nephew again, saying he owns unencumbered assets of at least $1 million.

"I am aware of the responsibilities of being a surety and the potential for forfeiture should Dennis Oland fail to comply with the conditions of his release," the affidavit states.

Derek Oland provided a $50,000 surety in November 2013, when his nephew was released, pending his trial.

The latest bail request is scheduled to be heard at Fredericton's Justice Building on Feb. 12 at 10 a.m., the day after the sentencing hearing.

"There will be no further comment at this time," the Oland family's lawyer, William Teed, said in an emailed statement.

Nicole O'Byrne, an associate law professor at the University of New Brunswick, believes the chances of Oland getting bail pending appeal are "very slim."

"The public confidence in the administration of justice would likely be shaken if a convicted murderer were released pending an appeal process," O'Byrne has said.

But it's not without precedent. In a 1998 case in Manitoba, Mohamed Ameerulla Khan, who was found guilty by a jury of two counts of first-degree murder, was granted bail, pending an appeal of his conviction on the charge of murdering his wife and pending a new trial on a charge of murdering his sister.

Largely circumstantial case

The Crown's case against Dennis Oland was largely circumstantial.

The brown sports jacket seized from Dennis Oland's bedroom closet had three bloodstains on it and DNA that matched his father's profile. (Court exhibit)
He was the last known person to see his father alive, after attending a meeting at his office the night before.

Oland told police he was wearing a navy blazer when he visited his father that night, but video surveillance and witness testimony showed he was wearing a brown jacket.

A brown Hugo Boss sports jacket seized from his bedroom closet a week later had three small blood stains on it and the DNA extracted from those areas matched his father's DNA profile.

The estimated probability of selecting an unrelated individual at random from the Canadian Caucasian population with the same DNA profile is one in 20 quintillion, a Crown DNA expert testified.

No weapon was ever found.

The Crown had suggested Oland's financial problems and his father's extramarital affair were possible motives.

Sentencing suggestions

Second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence, but parole eligibility can range between 10 and 25 years.

The jury unanimously recommended the minimum 10 years before Oland can become eligible for parole, but Justice Walsh does not have to follow that recommendation.

Walsh ordered a pre-sentence report on Oland, who has three children and a stepson.

Oland's extended family has stood by him from the beginning, maintaining his innocence.

The trial took about three months, making it one of the longest criminal trials in New Brunswick history.

Police investigation probed

The New Brunswick Police Commission is now reviewing the Saint John Police Force's handling of the high-profile murder investigation.

Once completed, the results and any recommendations will be sent to the minister of public safety for consideration. No timeline has been indicated.

The inquest was requested by the chair of the Saint John Board of Police Commissioners after several problems with the four-year investigation were raised during the trial.

The jury heard evidence that police failed to protect the crime scene from possible contamination, used the bathroom located in the foyer outside the victim's office for two days before it was forensically tested and never tested the back door for evidence.

Police also failed to ask the pathologist whether a drywall hammer was a possible weapon.

The blood-stained brown sports jacket was also handled by the former lead investigator with his bare hands and rolled up into a 30X30-centimetre paper exhibit bag by another officer, the court heard.

The New Brunswick Police Commission is also investigating allegations that Saint John Police Force's Deputy Chief Glen McCloskey suggested another officer lie to the court about McCloskey's presence at the crime scene.

McCloskey denied the allegations under oath, but admitted he entered the crime scene twice — once to "observe the body" and a second time out of "curiosity."

Saint John police Chief John Bates requested the commission look into the matter.

Dennis Oland's Notice of AppealMobile users: View the document
Dennis Oland's Notice of Appeal (PDF KB)
Dennis Oland's Notice of Appeal (Text KB)
CBC is not responsible for 3rd party content


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.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?