New Brunswick

Dennis Oland concedes inconsistencies between testimony, police statement

Dennis Oland conceded Wednesday there are inconsistencies between his testimony at his second-degree murder trial and what he told Saint John police in 2011 about the last time he saw his father, prominent businessman Richard Oland, alive.

Accused tells murder trial he was 'nervous, in shock and sad' about father's death during 2011 statement

Dennis Oland, 47, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the 2011 bludgeoning death of his father, prominent businessman Richard Oland. (CBC)

Dennis Oland conceded Wednesday there are inconsistencies between his testimony at his second-degree murder trial and what he told Saint John police in 2011 about the last time he saw his father, prominent businessman Richard Oland, alive.

Lead Crown prosecutor P.J. Veniot asked the accused during cross-examination if his memory about visiting his father is better now than it was 24 hours after the fact.

Oland said he was "nervous, in shock and sad" at the time of the statement, having just learned of his father's death. Although he was asked by police to carefully recount his comings and goings, he is able to recall better now, he told the packed Saint John Court of Queen's Bench courtroom.

He did not intend to give police misleading information, he said.

Oland, 47, who was the last known person to see his father alive during a meeting at his investment firm office on July 6, 2011, is accused in his bludgeoning death.

The body of Richard Oland, 69, was discovered in his office the following morning, lying face down in a pool of blood. The multimillionaire had suffered 45 sharp and blunt force injuries to his head, neck and hands. No weapon was ever found.

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)
The accused told police he went to his father's office on Canterbury Street twice on the night in question. He was going there to discuss family genealogy and part way up the stairs to the second-storey office he realized he forgot some documents at work, he said.

So he left to go get them, but as he was driving back to his office at CIBC Wood Gundy, where he worked as a financial adviser, he realized he didn't have a passcard needed to operate the elevator after hours, and headed back to his father's office.

During his testimony on Tuesday, Oland mentioned for the first time a third trip to his father's office. He said after their meeting, as he was driving away, he realized he had forgotten a camp logbook he was supposed to return to his uncle, so he looped around the block to go back.

Under questioning by his defence lawyer Gary Miller for a second day on Wednesday, Oland said he only remembered going to the office a third time "in the following days" after his police interview.

He was also "clearly … mistaken" when he told police he was wearing a navy blazer the night he visited his father, he said.

The jury has seen security video that shows Oland was wearing a brown sports jacket, which was subsequently seized by police and found to have three small bloodstains and DNA matching his father's profile.

Nothing in this [police statement] was an attempt to mislead anybody.- Dennis Oland

The prosecutor pointed out other discrepancies, such as how Oland told police he turned the wrong way up a one-way street before meeting his father, but testified that was actually after their meeting, when he went back the third time to get the logbook.

Oland also told police his father was sitting at his desk when he left the office, but testified on Tuesday he was standing near his secretary's desk.

Oland told the court on Wednesday those were "two separate occasions." His father was sitting at his desk after their meeting, but by his secretary's desk when he returned to get the logbook, he said.

And while he told police he couldn't remember whether he used the washroom in the foyer outside his father's office during his first trip, he testified Wednesday he is now certain he did not use the bathroom there because he remembers using his own bathroom when he got home later.

Veniot questioned whether Oland was attempting to mislead police during his statement. "Nothing in this [statement] was an attempt to mislead anybody," Oland replied.

Didn't tell father about money troubles

Dennis Oland testified Wednesday that he never told the bank about the $500,000 loan from his father and never told his father about the collateral mortgage on his home. (Andrew Robson)
Veniot also asked Oland about his financial problems leading up to his father's slaying, which the prosecution has suggested was a possible motive.

Oland was two months behind in making monthly interest-only payments of $1,666.67 on a $500,000 loan he received from his multimillionaire father in 2009, following a divorce from his first wife. The money was to secure his Rothesay home, which had been in the Oland family for about 70 years.

He also had monthly child and spousal support payments of $4,233 to make, plus living expenses.

Meanwhile, his credit card and line of credit were both maxed out, his bank account was overdrawn, and he had received a $16,000 advance on his pay from CIBC Wood Gundy.

Veniot asked Oland if he told the bank he had a $500,000 loan from his father when he increased his credit limit to $163,000 in March 2011. He said he did not.

Asked whether he told his father he had gotten the increase by securing it against his $650,000 home, Oland replied: "I did not tell him anything."

Veniot suggested the collateral mortgage was an encumbrance on the property his father was supposed to have a mortgage on. He asked if Oland was concerned his father wouldn't be "happy" if he found out. Oland said he was not.

Although there was "initial discussion" about his $500,00 loan being secured against the house, it never went anywhere, he said.

Oland testified he could have approached his father for financial help, but did not. As an investment adviser, he had seen ups and downs in the market before, and things always eventually turned around, he said.

Richard Oland's investments were worth an estimated $36 million at the time of his death, the court has heard.

'Absolutely' loved him

The accused testified he "absolutely" loved his father and fought back tears when he said he misses him.

They had an "old school" father-son relationship, he said, describing it as a bit formal and "father-know-best."

"He wasn't a guy who would say every day 'I love you,'" but would say it "from time to time," he said.

Oland described his father as being very particular and impatient. "Sometimes he wasn't nice about it and so you had to deal with that."

Veniot pointed out that Oland told police he did not have a close relationship with his father.

During his 2½-hour videotaped police statement, which was played for the jury earlier in the trial, Oland said his father was "not the easiest person to get along with."

Oland had also described his father's extramarital affair with Diana Sedlacek as a "family concern."

On Wednesday, when asked how he felt about the affair, he said he couldn't say he liked it, but he never broached the subject with his father. "I didn't want anything to do with it."

Other theories for blood, DNA on jacket

Earlier Wednesday, the jury heard other possible explanations for how blood and the victim's DNA might have gotten on Oland's brown Hugo Boss sports jacket.

Three blood stains and DNA matching Richard Oland's profile were found on the brown sports jacket Dennis Oland was wearing when he visited his father. (Court exhibit)
Under questioning by his lawyer, Oland said his father sometimes had blood on him because he chewed his cuticles and would pick at scabs on his scalp.

His father was also a "touchy-feely" close talker, who greeted everyone with a "big handshake" that usually involved touching their arm or back, he said.

The three confirmed blood stains on the jacket were on the right sleeve, the upper left chest and on the back, the court has heard. They were all less than two centimetres in diameter.

A blood expert for the defence has testified Oland's killer would have had a "significant" amount of blood on him or her.

Oland also told the court that he moved into his parent's home for about three months during the winter of 2010 while they were on vacation and kept all of his clothes in his father's closet.

He said when his father returned, he asked him to remove his clothes because he kept getting confused about which clothes were which.

Under cross-examination, Veniot argued there wasn't much chance of Oland's father putting his clothes on by mistake. Oland wears 38/40. His father wore 40/42.

​The trial resumes on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. when the defence is expected to call a new witness.