New Brunswick

Dennis Oland's defence seeks new disclosure in father's 2011 slaying

The defence has asked for new disclosure after the testimony of a retired Saint John police officer Monday at Dennis Oland's murder retrial in the death of his father more than seven years ago.

Oland is being retried for 2nd-degree murder in the death of multimillionaire Richard Oland

Dennis Oland's second-degree murder trial resumed Monday after a three-week break for the holidays. (CBC)

The defence has asked for new disclosure after the testimony of a retired Saint John police officer Monday at Dennis Oland's murder retrial in the death of his father more than seven years ago.

Former staff sergeant Mike King testified that on July 8, 2011 — the day after Richard Oland's bludgeoned body was discovered in his office at 52 Canterbury St. — officers called him to a possible related incident at a nearby apartment building at 147 Germain St.

The glass of the back door had been broken, there was blood in the sink and they found an old, small "claw hammer" in an open garage, said King.

King, a former roofer who had observed "the holes in the top of [the victim's] head," believed a roofer's hatchet, also known as a drywall hammer, may have been used to kill him, the court heard.

The hand-held tools typically have a bevelled hammer head with a waffle design "like a meat tenderizer" on one side and a sharp axe on the other side, he said.

The major crime unit investigated the break-in and determined it occurred after the Oland homicide and was unrelated, said King.

But lead defence lawyer Alan Gold told the court it was the first time the defence or Crown had heard about the incident and pointed out King didn't know how investigators made that determination.

King could not say, for example, how soon after the homicide it occurred or whether they tested the blood to see if it matched Oland's, said Gold.

Retired staff sergeant Mike King fought back tears Monday testifying about his allegation that retired deputy chief Glen McCloskey had urged him not to reveal he had entered the bloody crime scene. (CBC)

Dennis Oland, 50, who is the last person known to have seen his multimillionaire father alive when he visited him at his office on the evening of July 6, 2011, is being retried for second-degree murder in his death.

The body of the 69-year-old was found in the office the next morning, face down in a pool of blood. He had suffered 45 sharp- and blunt-force injuries to his head, neck and hands.

A jury found his son guilty in 2015, but the New Brunswick Court of Appeal overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial, citing an error in the trial judge's instructions to the jury.

The trial resumed Monday in Saint John's Court of Queen's Bench after a three-week holiday break.

King broke down on the stand testifying again about his allegation that retired deputy chief Glen McCloskey had encouraged him not to reveal McCloskey had entered the bloody crime scene.

King first made the allegation during Oland's first trial. McCloskey denied the allegation, telling the court he had entered the office twice that day — first to observe the body and then again out of "curiosity."

During a news conference last month, McCloskey reiterated it would have been "illogical" to suggest King alter his testimony because Crown prosecutors and former police chief Bill Reid knew he was in the crime scene.

On Monday, King repeated that in 2014, before he was scheduled to testify at Oland's preliminary inquiry, McCloskey told him he he didn't have to tell anyone that he, McCloskey, had been in the office.

At the time, McCloskey was King's immediate supervisor as the divisional inspector in charge of patrol. 

Gold asked King on Monday whether it was easy to come forward with the allegation. King doubled over, holding both sides of his head. "No," he replied through tears. Asked whether he enjoyed doing it, King said, "No, I didn't."

McCloskey is expected to testify at the retrial, possibly later this week.

'This isn't what we thought'

Const. Tony Gilbert of the Saint John Police Force's major crime unit was one of the first officers to respond to the discovery of Richard Oland's body in July 2011. (Catherine Allard/Radio-Canada)

Earlier in the day, Const. Anthony Gilbert testified that if he had known he was responding to a homicide or even a suspicious death, he might have worn protective gear before entering the bloody office, or possibly not entered at all.

But the sergeant who dispatched him and Const. Stephen Davidson did not provide any such information, and neither did the first responding officers who greeted them at the scene, said Gilbert.

"We were under the impression it was a heart attack," or some other kind of natural death, he said, noting the 911 call had come in as a man "not conscious, not breathing."

Once he saw the pool of blood around the victim's head, however, he said he quickly realized it was a possible crime scene.

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)

Gilbert told the court he turned to Davidson and said, "'This isn't what we thought,' or 'This isn't what we expected,' or something along those lines."

They exited the office, retracing their steps without touching anything, he said.

Gilbert, a member of the major crime unit, testified he only went about 10 steps into the victim's office and estimated he and Davidson were only in there for about 30 seconds.

He called his supervisor as soon as they exited to advise him the death "appeared to be suspicious in nature," he said.

The retrial, which began in November, has heard from several police officers, including Davidson, who went on to become the lead investigator, and the head of the forensic identification section.

The retrial is scheduled to last four months.

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