New Brunswick

Dennis Oland's new murder trial might not happen until 2018

Dennis Oland will have to wait until the new year to learn when — or if — he will face a new trial for second-degree murder in the 2011 death of his father, multimillionaire Richard Oland.

Jury's guilty verdict in 2011 death of father, Richard Oland, quashed by New Brunswick Court of Appeal

Dennis Oland, who served 10 months in prison, has been free on bail since Oct. 25, pending his new trial. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Dennis Oland will have to wait until the new year to learn when — or if — he will face a new trial for second-degree murder in the 2011 death of his father, multimillionaire Richard Oland.

If a retrial does proceed, it may not be held until January 2018, the Saint John Court of Queen's Bench heard on Monday.

A trial date was expected to be set on Monday, but the matter was set over until Jan. 3 at 11 a.m., at the request of James McConnell, one of Oland's defence lawyers.

Both parties are still waiting for the detailed written reasons of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal's Oct. 24 decision  to quash Oland's conviction and order a new trial.

They will then have 60 days to decide whether to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Crown could seek to have Oland's conviction reinstated, while the defence could request an acquittal instead of a new trial.

If either party does seek leave to appeal, that would put the case on hold until the country's highest court decides whether it will hear the matter.

Prosecutors could also decide not to pursue a retrial if they feel there's no reasonable prospect of a conviction.

Oland, 48, did not attend Monday's proceedings.

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)
He was found guilty last December in his father's slaying, but a three-justice panel of the Court of Appeal ruled the trial judge had erred in his instructions to the jury, and ordered a retrial for Oland.

The Crown was prepared to proceed with setting a new trial date on Monday, Bill Richards, of the attorney general's special prosecutions branch, told the court.

But he expects "things will become much more clear in January," he said, referring to whether either party will seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Even if a trial date were to be set on Monday, "my understanding is we're months and months down the road," said Richards.

"How far down the road?" asked Justice Hugh McLellan.

We'll see in the next couple of months how things unfold.- Gary Miller, defence lawyer

Richards said his understanding is in the "12-month time frame."

When McLellan asked if the earliest a new trial could start would be in January 2018, Richards replied, "in that range."

Outside the courthouse, defence lawyer Gary Miller told reporters he could not say whether holding the trial earlier, in the summer or fall, would be feasible.

"That's difficult to say right now; we haven't heard anything from the Crown with regard to how they're proceeding this time and whether it's going to be the same cast of witnesses or not. So we need to know all of that before we can set realistic trial dates."

The request to set the matter over until Jan. 3, the court's next motions day, was a "common sense request," said Miller.

"We'll see in the next couple of months how things unfold," he said.

Oland continues to live in the community under several court-imposed conditions, pending his new trial.

He was granted bail on Oct. 25 after serving 10 months in prison. The Court of Appeal ruled his presumption of innocence has been restored now that his conviction has been overturned.

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 blows to his head, neck and hands. No weapon was ever found.

His son, Dennis Oland, was the last known person to see him alive during a meeting at his office the night before.

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