New Brunswick

Dennis Oland was overspending by $14K a month before father's death, trial hears

Dennis Oland spent triple the amount he earned during the first half of 2011, overspending by an average of $14,000 a month before the bludgeoning death of his multimillionaire father, his murder retrial heard on Tuesday.

Oland, 50, had deepening debt before multimillionaire father Richard was killed in 2011, court has heard

Dennis Oland's bank account rarely had a positive balance that lasted more than a month. The balance spiked upward when his pay was deposited, but declined as the funds were used to pay bills and other living costs, said forensic accountant Eric Johnson. (Court exhibit)

Dennis Oland spent triple the amount he earned during the first half of 2011, overspending by an average of $14,000 a month before the bludgeoning death of his multimillionaire father, his murder retrial heard on Tuesday.

But a defence review of Oland's finances showed his overspending was even worse during the same six-month period the year before — approximately $20,000 per month.

The Crown alleges Oland was on the edge financially when he went to visit his father Richard Oland at his Saint John office on the night he was killed and that his deepening debt was a possible motive for murder.

The defence, however, contends Oland's cash flow problems were nothing new and nothing unusual for a financial adviser.

On Tuesday, forensic accountant Eric Johnson took the stand and reviewed his analysis of Oland's financial records. He focused primarily on the period from Jan. 1, 2011, to the day Richard Oland's body was discoverd — July 7, 2011.

The binder, which was several inches thick, had been condensed from a larger volume, Crown prosecutor Derek Weaver advised the court.

"Are you serious?" responded a surprised Justice Terrence Morrison.

Johnson looked at Oland's main chequing account, his  Visa, line of credit, investment account and RRSP account.

Dennis Oland has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and is being retried by judge alone in New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench in Saint John. (CBC)

He found the chequing account "rarely had a positive balance that lasted more than a month."

"The balance spiked upward when his pay was deposited, but declined as funds were used to pay bills and other living costs."

A total of $102,835.93 was deposited into the account during those six months and $102,171.58 was withdrawn.

Oland's bank account and credit card activity showed combined spending of $120,972.16 during that period, said Johnson. His pay was only $34,124.02, resulting in a deficit of $86,848.14.

Some of that spending included about $16,000 on trips to Florida and England, Johnson found.

Dennis Oland's secured line of credit remained near its $163,000 limit. On July 7, 2011, the day his father's body was discovered, he owed $163,939.68 on the line of credit. (Court exhibit)

Oland had increased his Visa limit by $7,000 to $27,000 in February 2011, but by July 7, the balance stood at $32,928.53 — more than $5,500 over the limit, he said.

Similarly, Oland had increased his line of credit by $88,000 to $163,000 in March 2011, but it too was overdrawn by more than $900 in July.

Meanwhile, his investment account had been cleaned out and his RRSP account had only $20.13 left.

​Oland, 50, is the last person known to have seen his father alive when he visited him at his uptown office on the evening of July 6, 2011.

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

The 69-year-old's body was discovered in the office the next morning, with 45 sharp- and blunt-force injuries to his head, neck and hands. No weapon was ever found.

A jury found the younger Oland guilty of second-degree murder 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.

Tuesday marked Day 28 of the judge-alone retrial, which began in Saint John Court of Queen's Bench on Nov. 21. The trial is scheduled to resume on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

Analysis doesn't reflect 'net worth'

During cross-examination, defence lawyer Michael Lacy pointed out the forensic accountant did not do a net worth analysis of Oland. Johnson confirmed he was not asked to do so by police or the Crown.

As a result, his review of Oland's finances did not take into account any of his assets, the courtroom heard.

Lacy noted, for example, that Johnson found evidence of at least two different sources of rental income, with cheques for $850 and $650 occasionally being deposited into his account. He suggested it would be reasonable to infer there was a corresponding asset. Johnson agreed.

Lacy argued an analysis doesn't give a "true sense of a person's financial position unless you do a balance sheet, correct?"

"Yes," replied Johnson.

Cheque to father after death

His analysis didn't look beyond July 7 either, said Lacy. So while Johnson found Oland bounced a cheque to his father on July 5, the day before he was killed, he missed that the $1,666.67 payment did eventually go through on July 19.

In fact, the full month of July was slightly better than the previous months, ending with a positive balance of $572.68, noted Lacy.

The defence also reviewed Oland's finances for 2009 and 2010, which Johnson agreed showed similar "peaks and valleys" in his banking account to 2011 and maxing out or exceeding of his credit limits.

This chart, submitted into evidence by the defence, showed the spikes and dips seen in Dennis Oland's main CIBC chequing account in 2011 (in blue) also occurred in 2009 (green) and 2010 (red). (Court exhibit)

Between Jan. 1, 2010 and July 7, 2010, his spending outstripped his income by $128,659.58 — about $40,000 more than the six months before his father was killed, Lacy pointed out.

Oland also opted to take a trip to the Caribbean Island of St. Maarten that year, spending about $9,000, he said, implying he wasn't worried about money.

On redirect, the Crown asked Johnson how Oland's debt load between 2009 and 2011 compared.

"It was increasing as time passed," he said.

'A bit nervous' about finances

John Travis, Dennis Oland's former manager for CIBC Wood Gundy in Saint John, testified at the retrial Tuesday. (CBC)

Earlier Tuesday, the court heard Oland was "a bit concerned" about his finances in June 2011 and a "bit nervous" some automatic withdrawals from his account would bounce.

Oland, a financial adviser at CIBC Wood Gundy at the time, had arranged an $8,000-per-month advance on his pay to help him through a two-month "crunch period" and when only $4,000 was deposited, he emailed his manager John Travis to ask him to look into it.

"​It is essential that the correct funds be placed into my bank account today so that I can honor my commitments that are due today," Oland wrote on June 15. They included a $4,230 support payment to his ex-wife and a "$1,650.00 loan payment," he said.

Travis testified he didn't know the details of the loan Oland referred to, but the trial has heard Oland was making monthly interest payments of $1,666.67 to his father for the $500,000 he had provided in 2008-09, when Oland was going through a divorce from his first wife.

During opening statements, Crown prosecutor Jill Knee said, "This loan is an important factor in the accused's financial state leading up to the murder of Richard Oland."

The defence argues ​the $500,000 was an advance on Oland's inheritance and the monthly interest payments were only out of fairness to the other beneficiaries — his two sisters.

$16K advance on pay

In requesting the advance on his pay, Oland had suggested he was on the verge of bringing in significant business to the firm from his father and another client.

"​I had a good chat with Dick [his father] yesterday and the timeline to see some funds flowing this way looks to have firmed up to the August/September time period," he said in an email to Travis on June 1, 2011.

"We are looking at total new assets in the $10- $20m range," he wrote.

"In the meantime, it does look like I am going to struggle with cash for the next few months and as a result I wanted to revisit your offer to assist me to get through this crunch period."

Crown prosecutor Derek Weaver asked Travis if CIBC saw "any further funds flow" from Richard Oland between that email and his death.

"Not that I'm aware of," replied Travis.

Oland told Travis he needed at least $7,500 per month for two months to cover his expenses, but the "ideal" amount for him would be $8,500.

Under cross-examination by Oland's defence lawyer Alan Gold, Travis said he had offered to help Oland out in May, but he had declined.

Travis also agreed with Gold that Oland's "book of business" was worth between $200,000 and $300,000 at the time, which was a "considerable asset" for him.