Dennis Oland 'really surprised' police let him go after interrogation about father's slaying
Murder retrial sees videotaped statement accused gave police the day Richard Oland's body was found
Dennis Oland was "really surprised" Saint John police let him go after his five-hour interrogation the day his father's body was discovered.
"I thought that when we left the interview room that we were going on to sort of the next step — I don't know, further interrogation, or whether I was under arrest, I had no idea," he said.
"I just was surprised they were letting me leave."
Oland, 50, made the comment during a hearing earlier this year when his defence lawyers tried unsuccessfully to get his July 7, 2011, videotaped statement to police thrown out as evidence at his retrial for second-degree murder.
Half of the interview was played in Court of Queen's Bench on Thursday at his retrial, as it was during his first trial in 2015, which ended with a jury finding him guilty of killing his father, multimillionaire Richard Oland.
The New Brunswick Court of Appeal overturned the conviction in October 2016 and ordered a new trial, citing an error in the trial judge's instructions to the jury.
The first trial revealed inconsistencies in the accused's statement to police, including what he said he was wearing when he had visited his father at his office the night before.
Oland told police he was wearing a navy blazer, but witnesses and video surveillance showed he was wearing a brown sports jacket, which was later found to have four areas of blood on it and DNA matching his father's profile.
Oland also told police he had gone to his father's office twice that night, but when testifying in his own defence more than four years later, he disclosed for the first time making a third trip to 52 Canterbury St.
Both were honest mistakes due to confusion, he said.
At the pre-trial hearing in May, the accused testified he agreed to give police an interview because he wanted to "help out."
"I was trying to be forthright and give the police officer everything that he was asking for."
Oland said he didn't know at the time that his father had been killed, or that he was the last known person to see him alive when he had stopped by his office from around 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
The body of the 69-year-old was discovered in the office the next morning, lying face down in a large pool of blood. He had suffered 45 sharp- and blunt-force injuries to his head, neck and hands.
Oland said he noticed the police questions becoming "more pointed" and "a bit odd" during his interview, but the thought of being a potential suspect never crossed his mind.
When Const. Stephen Davidson advised him of his right to speak to a lawyer, he was "stunned."
"You think you're being helpful providing all this information, answering questions and then all of a sudden, it's just sort of a whipsaw," said Oland.
"It's a physical reaction, it's an emotional reaction."
Oland's testimony at the pre-trial hearing had been under a publication ban until a mistrial was declared for his jury retrial and the matter proceeded Nov. 21 by judge alone.
He made another incorrect statement during that hearing when lead Crown prosecutor P.J. Venoit asked him why he didn't immediately go to the police station when requested.
"My children were the oldest of all the grandchildren," he said.
"They were in school, so I needed to call their mother to let them know that dad had died and to get them out of school."
"On July 7?" asked Veniot.
"That's right," replied Oland.
"Yes, July 7, they were at school and then I had their mother take them out of school to tell them that their grandfather had died."
On redirect, defence lawyer Alan Gold asked his client, "What school were your kids in on July 7?"
Oland proceeded to list the schools his son, two daughters and stepson attended in 2011.
"When did their school year end?" asked Gold.
"Late June," said Oland.
"So what were they doing in school on July 7?"
"Regular class activities," Oland replied before realizing his mistake.
"Oh July! Oh geez, I'm totally in the wrong month, sorry. I'm thinking June. Excuse me … They were not in school, so that is incorrect."
He said his three children were staying at his ex-wife's that week.
"I had to call their mother and say, 'Wherever the kids are, get them.'"
During his police interview, Oland said his father wasn't "the easiest guy in the world to get along with" and that they didn't have a close relationship.
"He had this thing that you can't be friends with your son."
Although they used to sail together when he was a teenager, he stopped.
"He just barks and barks and barks," Oland said. "He could do things that could be hurtful."
He recounted a recent Christmas dinner when his father "blew a gasket" because he had let the flame of a rum cake extinguish before he got it to the table.
"It was ugly," he said.
His father would also "fly off"' if he didn't answer his phone by the third ring, he 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.- Dennis Oland
"You will talk to some people and [they'll] say he was a ruthless bastard and you talk to other people and [they'll] say, 'Yeah, but.'"
He spoke fondly of how his father had "stepped up" and "bankrolled" his divorce.
"That's very powerful stuff," he said.
Oland denied any involvement in his father's death.
"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."
Affair 'should stop'
Asked if he could think of anyone else who might be involved, Oland said the only person that came to mind was "this supposed girlfriend," referring to his father's mistress, Diana Sedlacek.
"She really seemed to be a whack job," he said. "Like, they call her the Dragon Lady. You know she's this hostile … somebody who you think could be that Fatal Attraction–type person."
Oland had discussed the affair with his father's associate and said he "should tell Dick that people know and it should stop."
Justice Terrence Morrison deemed the police statement "highly probative" on the issues of motive and identity and "critically important to the Crown's case."
The second half of the interview will not be seen at the retrial. The Crown did not seek to submit it into evidence. The nearly 2½-hour video wasn't shown to the jury at the first trial either.
The retrial is scheduled to resume Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. with testimony from the the co-owners of VIP Dry Cleaners, who cleaned Oland's blood-stained brown sports jacket the day after he was interviewed by police.
The retrial is scheduled to last four months.