New Brunswick

Dennis Oland's debt deepened before multimillionaire father's death, murder retrial hears

The contrast between Dennis Oland's deepening debt and the lavish lifestyle of his multimillionaire father Richard Oland before he was killed in 2011 was front and centre Thursday at his murder retrial in Saint John's Court of Queen's Bench.

Oland, 50, is being retried for 2nd-degree murder in 2011 bludgeoning death of Richard Oland

Dennis Oland is being retried for second-degree murder in the 2011 death of his father, Richard Oland. (CBC)

Dennis Oland's last $1,666.67 interest-only payment to his father before the multimillionaire was killed bounced due to insufficient funds, Oland's murder retrial heard on Thursday.

That was about the same amount of money Richard Oland could spend on a single meal on his yacht, according to his business associate and chartered accountant Robert McFadden.

The contrast between Richard Oland's lavish lifestyle and the accused's deepening debt in the months before the elder Oland's 2011 bludgeoning death was front and centre on Day 26 of the retrial in Saint John's Court of Queen's Bench.

​The Crown has sugge​sted Dennis Oland's financial problems were a possible motive for murder. During opening statements, Jill Knee told the court that the financial adviser had maxed out a $163,000 line of credit, a $27,000-limit credit card, cashed out his RRSPs and had requested an advance on his pay.

Just two years earlier, his father had provided $538,000 when he was going through a costly divorce to settle his debts and ensure he didn't lose his house in Rothesay, which had been in the family for decades.

"​This was the financial burden carried by Dennis Oland when he went to visit his father on July 6, 2011," Knee said.

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)

Oland, 50, is the last known person to have seen his father alive when he visited him at his office that night. The 69-year-old was found dead in the office the next morning. He had suffered 45 sharp- and blunt-force injuries to his head, neck and hands.

His son, who was interviewed by police that day, said: "I have no reason to want my father dead, to kill him … I mean, we've had our things, but no, I wouldn't rob someone of the fun that they're having."

He was charged with second-degree murder in 2013.

A jury found him guilty in 2015, but the New Brunswick Court of Appeal overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial, citing an error in the trial judge's instructions to the jury. He is being retried by judge alone.

The retrial resumes on Friday at 9:30 a.m. with the continued cross-examination of McFadden.

Robert (Bob) McFadden had known and worked with Richard Oland since 1980, helping with everything from accounting to IT and building yachts. (CBC)

On Thursday, McFadden told the court Richard Oland raced yachts as a hobby and could spend $100,000 on a single race. He estimated he competed in 10 to 12 races around the world each year.

In 2009, Oland spent about six weeks in New Zealand, building a new boat. By 2011, "that boat had gotten old," so he was building a new boat in Spain.

Oland's investments were worth about $36 million at the time of his death, said McFadden. He was the owner and sole director of three companies dealing with investments and real estate, he said.

After he was killed, his son and McFadden, who were executors and trustees of his will, appointed themselves directors and officers of the companies.

Was considering changing will

Crown prosecutor P.J. Veniot asked McFadden about a handwritten "to-do" list found in the office. It was dated July 4 — two days before the killing — and had "will" as the sixth and final item.

"Will of whom?" asked Veniot.

McFadden told the court Richard Oland had been considering changing his will. "It was a little stale and he periodically thought about updating it," he said. 

Under the terms of the existing will, which dated back to 1996, Oland's house and car were to be transferred to his widow, Connie, and his companies were to be transferred to a spousal trust, said McFadden. Connie would receive income from the residual and could receive more money from the capital, at the discretion of the trustees — her son and McFadden.

Upon her death, the estate would be divided equally between Dennis Oland and his two sisters, he said.

Life insurance meeting 'cosmic coincidence'

Fourth on the to-do list was "life insurance," the courtroom heard. McFadden said Richard Oland already had a life insurance policy worth about $8 million, with his investment company, Far End Corporation, as the beneficiary.

But on the morning of July 6 — the day he was killed — he had a meeting at his office with "some insurance fellas," who were "looking to peddle life insurance."

Defence lawyer Michael Lacy described it as a "cosmic coincidence." McFadden agreed.

Lead Crown prosecutor P.J. Veniot pushed the money motive theory Thursday. (CBC)

He testified he was aware of Dennis Oland's "cash-flow issues." In 2008-09 he helped broker the $538,000 arrangement between father and son with monthly interest-only payments.

"Was it a gift?" the prosecutor asked.

McFadden said Richard Oland considered it a loan, but "wasn't worried about collecting it."

If his son never paid the money back, it would just be deducted from his share of the estate, he said.

Richard Oland did have three conditions, said McFadden. He wanted Dennis Oland and his then-significant other, Lisa, who later became his second wife, to have a domestic contract to protect the family homestead, at 58 Gondola Point Rd., which was worth an estimated $650,000.

He also wanted a mortgage on the home he had grown up in, and wanted his company Kingshurst Estates to have right of first refusal to purchase the home if Dennis wasn't living there, said McFadden.

​Documents were drawn up and there was "some back and forth" on the drafts, but it just dragged on and the papers were never signed, he said.

McFadden testified he was unaware that Dennis Oland also subsequently obtained a secured line of credit against his home through CIBC.

Earlier Thursday, former CIBC employee Michelle Lefrancois testified she handled an application by Oland in August 2010 for a $75,000 secured line of credit.

Seven months later, he increased the amount of the collateral mortgage to $163,000, she said.

Lefrancois said she had no knowledge of $538,000 Oland had received from his father.

Fellow CIBC employee David Cosman, who had dealings with both of the Olands, testified he didn't know either.

Lead defence lawyer Alan Gold challenged any notion his client had borrowed from his father and was hiding his debt from lenders.

"You wouldn't expect to know if Richard Oland gave his son Dennis an advance on his inheritance?" he asked Cosman.


"And if Dennis, in order to keep things fair with the other beneficiaries was paying his dad $1,600 a month by way of a cheque, that wouldn't be earth-shaking information for you to know, would it?"

Cosman agreed.

Gold also questioned Lefrancois's memory of Oland's finances. She left CIBC in 2011 and wasn't interviewed by Saint John police until years later.

He suggested Oland had increased his line of credit, based on her recommendation, and produced an email exchange between them in February 2011.

Oland indicated he had received an unexpected $16,000 tax bill from the Canada Revenue Agency and inquired about getting a $20,000 loan.

Lefrancois suggested he instead increase his line of credit by $30,000, because it offered a better interest rate and a $499 legal fee would be waived.