New Brunswick

Richard Oland's blood could have been transferred, defence suggests

Dennis Oland's defence team spent Friday morning trying to lay the groundwork for another possible explanation for his murdered father's blood being on his brown sports jacket.

Murder victim had skin condition that caused scalp to bleed and was "touchy-feely"

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  • Defence team is cross-examining Richard Oland's long-time secretary.
  • Lawyer Gary Miller suggests Oland's blood could be transferred easily to others.

Dennis Oland's defence team spent Friday morning trying to lay the groundwork for another possible explanation for his murdered father's blood being on his brown sports jacket.

Gary Miller asked Richard Oland's longtime secretary, Maureen Adamson, about a skin condition the prominent businessman had, which would cause his scalp to bleed from time to time.

Dennis Oland, 46, is charged with second-degree murder in the 2011 death of his father. (CBC)
Adamson confirmed details about the medical condition and said he often had scabs on his scalp.

Miller also asked whether Richard Oland had a hearing problem. She confirmed he did and that it often caused him to lean in when he was speaking to someone.

The court also heard that Richard Oland was a "touchy-feely" kind of person and when he shook someone's hand, he would also often touch their shoulder area or put his arm around them.

Miller introduced eight photographs of Richard Oland socializing with people at an event, which illustrated his point.

Although Miller has not yet outlined the defence's case for the jury, it is clear he is suggesting Richard Oland's blood could easily be transferred from his hands to the clothing of others.

Dennis Oland, 46, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his father more than four years ago.

Richard Oland's bludgeoned body was discovered in his uptown investment firm office on July 7, 2011. He had suffered 46 wounds, including 40 to his head and neck, and was found lying face down in a pool of blood.

Earlier this week, the court heard that Dennis Oland was the last known person to see his father alive. He had visited him at his office on Canterbury Street the night before and told police he had been wearing a navy blazer at the time.

But Adamson testified he was wearing a brown jacket when he arrived at the office, which was supported by video surveillance of him earlier that day.

Saint John police subsequently seized a brown sports jacket from Dennis Oland's closet. The jacket had four areas of blood on it and the DNA was a match for that of Richard Oland.

$500K was 'advance on inheritance'

Adamson, who was a Crown witness, helped build its case earlier this week that Dennis Oland was "on the edge" financially after a costly divorce, with his credit "maxed out."

But she also contributed to the defence's case. Miller asked her on Friday about the $500,000 Richard Oland had given his son.

Although the Crown had presented the money as being a loan, Miller suggested to Adamson it was actually just an advance on his inheritance.

Maureen Adamson, the long-time secretary of Richard Oland, was asked about the prominent businessman's health conditions. (CBC )
The $1,666.67 Dennis Oland was paying his father every month was just to cover the interest — to be fair to the other heirs.

Adamson said Richard Oland didn't micromanage those payments and wasn't complaining about his son falling two months behind.

She said he never knew about Dennis Oland's last post-dated cheque bouncing because it only came back from the bank as insufficient funds on July 7, 2011 — the day she discovered his lifeless body.

Even if Richard Oland had known, Miller suggested it wouldn't have been a problem. Adamson confirmed Dennis Oland had bounced a cheque before, about a year earlier, and his father never involved himself in that.

Miller also noted that Dennis Oland had struggled back in 2002 or 2003 to make an annual $11,000 payment to his father on a mortgage for a property adjacent to his home. Miller said it was "no big deal, " they simply renegotiated the terms and "carried on". Adamson agreed.

In fact, Richard Oland had experienced financial troubles himself during a "long, protracted" legal battle with his brother, Derek Oland, over Moosehead Breweries shares, said Miller.

But in 2006, when the matter was settled and Richard Oland received a "substantial amount of money," he became "a little looser with the purse strings," Miller suggested.

Adamson interjected that her boss was always "very careful" with his money, but conceded he did spend more after the settlement.

'Relatively good relationship'

Earlier this week the Crown described Richard Oland's relationship with his son as being more like "banker and client."

But Adamson, who had known them both for almost three decades, testified that they had a "relatively good relationship." She added, however, that she had only ever really observed them in an office setting.

Miller asked if Richard Oland ever complained about his son. Adamson said he did, but the complaints were minor.

He'd "grumble," for example, if he couldn't reach him on the phone and be upset if Dennis Oland borrowed something and didn't return it in pristine condition.

Adamson said she was surprised to see media reports about a strained father-son relationship following Richard Oland's "passing."

She said she had never seen them fighting or arguing. 

"I had never observed that myself," she said.

Adamson's testimony finally wrapped up on Friday, after three days.

Surveillance video released

RAW: Dennis Oland at Cochran's

7 years ago
Duration 4:14
RAW: Dennis Oland at Cochran's

The court also released a surveillance video Friday, which had been entered into evidence by the defence on Thursday.

It shows Dennis Oland shopping at Cochran's Country Market on July 6, 2011 at 7:38 p.m. — less than two hours after Adamson had left him alone with Richard Oland at his Saint John office, the last time her boss was seen alive.

Dennis Oland appears relaxed as he chats with his wife, Lisa, and his aunt Jane Toward — Richard Oland's sister. He is wearing a pair of shorts and a short-sleeved shirt instead of the pants and jacket he had been wearing earlier during his meeting with his father.

Court adjourned for the weekend with Justice John Walsh instructing the jury to avoid any media coverage about the case.

The trial is scheduled to resume on Monday morning and to run until Dec. 18.

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