New Brunswick

Dennis Oland's new trial halts probe of father's murder investigation

The New Brunswick Police Commission's investigation into the Saint John Police Force's handling of the Richard Oland murder investigation has been postponed indefinitely now that the Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial for Dennis Oland.

N.B. Police Commission review of allegations against Saint John deputy chief ongoing

Dennis Oland, who has been in prison for 10 months, walked out of the Fredericton courthouse a free man Tuesday after being granted bail pending his new trial. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

The New Brunswick Police Commission's investigation into the Saint John Police Force's handling of the Richard Oland murder investigation has been postponed indefinitely now that the Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial for Dennis Oland.

The review by the independent provincial oversight body.will remain suspended "until such time as all criminal proceedings are completed," executive director Steve Roberge confirmed in an email to CBC News.

It's unclear how long that will take. A date for Oland's second trial in his father's 2011 death has not yet been set.

His next scheduled court appearance to possibly set a trial date is at Saint John's Court of Queen's Bench on Dec. 5, "or any day earlier the court may decide," Justice Marc Richard said during Tuesday's bail hearing.

Meanwhile, a separate police commission investigation into allegations Deputy Chief Glen McCloskey encouraged another officer not to reveal McCloskey had entered the bloody crime scene is proceeding, said Roberge.

It is expected to be complete by Dec. 26, he said.

Oland, 48, was released on bail Tuesday after the Court of Appeal panel overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial on Monday.

The New Brunswick Police Commission does not want its inquiry to interfere with Dennis Oland's criminal proceedings, executive director Steve Roberge has said. (CBC)
Oland had been in prison since Dec. 19, when a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder following a three-month trial in Saint John's Court of Queen's Bench. He was serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 10 years.

Saint John Police Chief John Bates declined to comment on the latest developments, deferring inquiries to the Office of the Attorney General.

The Attorney General's office has also declined to comment. 

Inquiry was launched last December

The New Brunswick Police Commission's review of the police investigation was initiated on Dec. 22 after several issues came to light during the trial.

The jury heard evidence that police failed to protect the crime scene from possible contamination, used the washroom located in the foyer outside the victim's office for two days before it was forensically tested and never tested the back door for evidence.

Deputy Chief Glen McCloskey was cleared by Halifax police of any criminal wrongdoing earlier this month, but remains the subject of a New Brunswick Police Commission investigation (CBC)
Nicole Paquet, then-chair of the Saint John Board of Police Commissioners, had requested the provincial commission review.

She also felt the review was important for officer morale, she had said.

The review was suspended, however, in January, after Oland's defence lawyer filed his appeal.

"We wish to ensure that a commission investigation does not affect or impact the ongoing criminal proceedings," the commission had said in a statement.

Once the investigation is completed, the results and any recommendations will be advanced to the minister of public safety for consideration. It's unclear when that will be or whether the findings will be made public.

Deputy chief cleared of criminal wrongdoing

The other inquiry into the "witness tampering" allegations against the deputy chief was previously initiated by the chief based on the testimony of retired staff sergeant Mike King.

King told the court McCloskey, who was an inspector at the time of the murder, had suggested during a meeting in 2014 that he lie to the court about McCloskey having been at the crime scene.

McCloskey denied the allegations under oath, but admitted he entered crime scene twice — once to observe the body and a second time out of "curiosity."

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)
Within a month, the conduct complaint investigation under the provincial Police Act was handed over to Halifax Regional Police to look into possible "criminal allegations," the details of which have not been released.

McCloskey was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing earlier this month, following an eight-month investigation, and the New Brunswick Police Commission inquiry resumed.

The body of Richard Oland, 69, was discovered the following morning, lying face down in a pool of blood in his investment firm Far End Corporation on Canterbury Street. He had suffered 45 blows to his head, neck and hands.

His son was the last know person to see him alive.

​The New Brunswick Police Commission investigates and resolves citizens' complaints relating to the conduct of police officers, according to its website.