New Brunswick

Dennis Oland wails uncontrollably after guilty verdict in father's murder

Dennis Oland has been convicted of killing his father Richard.

'Oh no, oh no,' he sobs as jury finds him guilty in 2011 bludgeoning death of Richard Oland

Dennis Oland, 47, has been convicted of second-degree murder in the 2011 death of his father, prominent businessman Richard Oland. (CBC)

Dennis Oland has been found guilty of killing his father, more than four years after prominent New Brunswick businessman Richard Oland was found bludgeoned to death in his Saint John office.

Second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 10 years and a maximum of 25 years.

Dennis Oland, 47, wailed uncontrollably when the jury delivered its verdict at 11:10 a.m. Saturday.

"Oh no, oh no," he said, as defence lawyer Gary Miller tried to console him. "Oh God! Oh my God!"

His wife, Lisa Andrik-Oland, also sobbed and later rushed out of the courtroom. His mother, Connie Oland, was silently doubled over, flanked by her stoic daughter, Jacqueline Walsh, and her brother, Jack Connell.

All 12 jurors recommended the minimum 10 years before Dennis Oland becomes eligible for parole, but Court of Queen's Bench Justice John Walsh does not have to follow that recommendation.

The judge has ordered a pre-sentence report. Oland, a father of three, will be sentenced on Feb. 11, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. at the Saint John Law Courts building.

He has been remanded into custody until the sentencing. Oland appeared disoriented as he offered a weak wave to his family members and other supporters as he was escorted out of the courtroom by sheriffs.

His wife, who had returned to the courtroom, sat motionless in the front row, as if in disbelief, clutching a tissue, her eyes puffy from crying. When consoled by another woman, she began crying again. "Shhhh," the unidentified woman said. "Shhhh."

Jurors reached their verdict Saturday morning after four days of deliberating on the huge volume of evidence presented during the trial, including testimony from 47 witnesses and 236 exhibits.

Dennis Oland's brown sports jacket, which had three bloodstains on it and DNA that matched his father's profile, was a key piece of evidence in the Crown's case against him. (Court exhibit)
A key piece of evidence in the Crown's case against him was a blood-stained brown sports jacket, seized from his bedroom closet a week after his father's body was discovered.

It had three small bloodstains on it — on the right sleeve, upper left chest and the back. The DNA extracted from those stains matched his father's profile. The chances of it not being the victim's DNA were one in 20 quintillion, a DNA expert testified.

Oland was the last known person to see his multimillionaire father alive during a meeting at his investment firm office on July 6, 2011.

The body of Richard Oland, 69, was discovered in his office the next morning, lying face down in a large pool of blood. He had been "killed in a rage," the Crown had said, with 45 sharp and blunt-force injuries to his head, neck and hands. No weapon was ever found.

Dennis 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 actually wearing a brown jacket.

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)
The Crown suggested money as a possible motive. They described Oland as being "on the edge financially." His father's investments were worth an estimated $36 million at the time of his death.

The high-profile trial, which started at the Saint John's Court of Queen's Bench on Sept. 16, is one of the longest criminal trials in New Brunswick.

The Oland family is well known in the Maritimes for having founded Moosehead Breweries.

After thanking the jurors for their service and dismissing them, Justice Walsh had to ask them to return when lead Crown prosecutor P.J. Veniot reminded him to seek their input on parole eligibility. 

When Dennis Oland was returned to the courtroom, he was directed for the first time to the prisoner's seat. He had previously been sitting at a small table, beside his three defence lawyers.

Oland rocked back and forth, his body rigid. His wife made eye contact with him and mouthed something to him.

Mother 'shocked and saddened'

Connie Oland issued a statement saying she was "shocked and saddened" by the jury's verdict. 

"Our faith in Dennis's innocence has never wavered and the jury's decision has not changed that belief," the statement said. 

"I am extremely proud of my son Dennis and he will continue to have our love and support in the difficult days ahead."

We want to reiterate that all Oland family members are certain Dennis had nothing to do with the death of his father.- Derek Oland, uncle

His uncle, Derek Oland  — the victim's brother — reiterated his support for his nephew in a statement.

"We continue to believe our nephew and cousin Dennis is innocent and we will support him and his family members through the course of whatever legal actions will unfold.

"We want to reiterate that all Oland family members are certain Dennis had nothing to do with the death of his father."

Both asked for privacy.

Dennis Oland testified in his own defence earlier this month, and told the court he had "no reason" to kill his father.

None of the family or Dennis Oland's defence lawyers, Miller and Alan Gold spoke to media when they left the courthouse.

The lead Crown prosecutor, speaking on behalf of himself and fellow prosecutors Patrick Wilbur and Derek Weaver, offered no comment on the verdict itself. But he thanked the jurors "for their careful and complete consideration of all of the evidence placed before them."

"They have completed their duty as the law requires and as explained to them by Mr. Justice Walsh," said Veniot. "We will be making no additional comments at this time with regards to the outcome of the trial."

Saint John Police Force Chief John Bates told CBC News he intends to issue a statement later today.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice John Walsh had stressed to the jury Dennis Oland was presumed innocent and that it was up to the Crown to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. (Andrew Robson court sketch)

During his two days of instructions to jurors, Justice Walsh described the case as being largely circumstantial.

He repeatedly advised them they had to be convinced of guilt beyond any reasonable doubt in order to find him guilty.

"A reasonable doubt is based on reason and common sense," Justice Walsh said. "It is a doubt that logically arises from the evidence, or the lack of evidence."

Oland was arrested on Nov. 12, 2013 and charged the following day. After spending six nights in custody, he was released on a $50,000 surety, and since then has been living in the community under several conditions.

In addition to Gold, from Toronto and Miller, from Fredericton, James McConnell of Saint John represented Dennis Oland.


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