New Brunswick

Richard Oland's affair had started to sour, Dennis Oland's defence suggests

Dennis Oland's defence team suggested to the jury Wednesday that his father's extramarital affair had started to sour in the months leading up to his bludgeoning death.

Mistress Diana Sedlacek will be called to testify, murder trial hears

Dennis Oland, 47, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the 2011 death of his father, prominent businessman Richard Oland. (CBC)

Dennis Oland's defence team suggested to the jury Wednesday that his father's extramarital affair had started to sour in the months leading up to his bludgeoning death.

Richard Oland's long-time business associate Robert McFadden was being cross-examined by defence lawyer Alan Gold.

McFadden testified it was no secret the prominent businessman had been having an affair with Diana Sedlacek.

He had seen evidence of it in Oland's travel arrangements and on his iPhone, which the court has previously heard was the only item that went missing from the crime scene.

Richard Oland's bludgeoned body was discovered lying face down in a pool of blood in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011.

The 69-year-old had suffered 45 sharp and blunt force injuries to his head, neck and hands.

Dennis Oland, 47, who was the last known person to see his father alive during a meeting at his Canterbury Street office the night before, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

Gold asked McFadden whether Richard Oland's phone habits had started to change just prior to his death; whether he had started ignoring calls and letting them go to voicemail. McFadden confirmed he had noticed that.

Robert McFadden, Richard Oland's business associate, is now co-director of his three companies, along with Dennis Oland. (CBC)
Gold then asked McFadden about the tone of Sedlacek's text messages, whether they were words to the effect of: stop wasting our time, leave your wife, let's start our new life together.

Lead Crown prosecutor P.J. Veniot objected before McFadden could answer, arguing it was hearsay.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice John Walsh asked the jury to leave for a few minutes while he discussed the matter with the lawyers.

When the jurors were called back, Walsh told them questions about the affair should be put to Sedlacek directly.

She will be on the witness stand to answer them herself in the days ahead, he said.

But text messages between Sedlacek and Oland were previously entered into evidence.

On July 4, 2011, at 11:20 a.m., she had texted: "Richard Richard!!!!! It's 2 long now — Hate this waste of time!!!! You're always wasting OUR time OUR life."

Later in the day, Sedlacek sent three more text messages before Oland responded with a call more than four hours later.

Dennis Oland had described his father's affair as a "family concern" and had asked McFadden to talk to him about it. He wanted McFadden to tell him that word about the affair was "getting out" and to "cool it."

Received $815K as co-executor, trustee

McFadden also testified about receiving $765,000 for serving as co-executor of Oland's will and $50,000 for being a trustee of his estate.

Dennis Oland received $100,000 and $50,000 for the same roles, McFadden said.

When McFadden was asked why he received so much more money than the accused, he said they decided the amounts between themselves. He did not elaborate and was not pressed to do so.

McFadden was not asked how much he and Oland were paid for being co-directors of the victim's three companies, which McFadden estimates were worth about $36 million at the time of his death.

Oland is currently president of his father's main holding company, while McFadden is the secretary and treasurer.

McFadden is the president and treasurer of the two subsidiaries, Far End Corporation, an investment firm, and Kingshurst Estates Limited, a real estate company. Dennis Oland is the secretary for both.

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)
"​Richard Oland trusted you and his son when he created his will?" asked Gold.

"Yes," replied McFadden.

The will was created in 1996, the Saint John courtroom heard.

On Tuesday, McFadden testified that Oland had been considering changing his will just before he was killed.

Gold suggested to the court that Oland wasn't looking to cut anyone out of the will, but rather to set up a family trust to reduce the taxes payable upon his death. McFadden agreed.

Under the terms of the existing will, Oland's widow, Connie, is the beneficiary. She receives income generated by a spousal trust, overseen by Dennis Oland and McFadden.

Upon her death, the trust is to be dissolved and the residual would be distributed equally among Dennis Oland and his two sisters, Lisa Bustin and Jacqueline Walsh.

Late $1,666 interest payment equal to a dinner

The Crown has suggested money might have been a motive in the case. Veniot has described Dennis Oland as being "on the edge financially."

The accused was two months behind in making monthly interest-only payments of $1,666.67 on a $500,000 loan his father gave him while he was going through a divorce from his first wife.

But Richard Oland "wasn't mad," argued Gold. "He was perfectly willing to help his son?"

I would say perhaps he was disappointed, but he said, 'Fine, let's just document it and carry on.'- Robert McFadden

"Yes," said McFadden, noting that $1,666.67 was about the cost of a dinner on the multimillionaire's sailboat.

McFadden said he never witnessed any animosity between the father and son. Richard Oland hadn't even mentioned the money for at least six months to a year before his death, he said.

"If there was animosity, Richard could have foreclosed and taken the property," said McFadden.

"I would say perhaps he was disappointed, but he said, 'Fine, let's just document it and carry on.'"

The court also heard that documents had been drafted by lawyers to formalize the funding agreement, but were never finalized.

Richard Oland had wanted the loan to be secured on the mortgage on Dennis Oland's home and wanted the first right to buy the home, which had been in the family about 70 years, if his son no longer lived there for some reason.

He also wanted a "domestic agreement" between Dennis Oland and his then-significant other, who went on to become his second wife, Lisa Oland.

McFadden said Dennis Oland "had some concerns" about the documents and Lisa needed time to find a lawyer to review the agreement.

Time passed and they just never seemed to get signed, but Richard Oland was not upset, said McFadden. "It was more fun building sailboats," he said, referring to the new yacht he was having built in Spain.

'Bank of Daddy'

Gold pointed out that it wasn't the first time Richard Oland had assisted his son financially. He helped him in 1998 when he bought his home and in 1999-2000 when he purchased the adjacent farm property.

It also wasn't the first time Dennis Oland had fallen behind in payments, the courtroom heard. In 2002, he had difficulty making the $11,000 annual payment on his mortgage with his father. Richard Oland simply added a year to the term, said McFadden.

Similarly, when Dennis Oland had defaulted on payments in 2007, 2008 and 2009, his father "cut him some slack," said Gold. "He did," agreed McFadden.

"Nice to have a Bank of Daddy, isn't it," commented Gold.

Dry cleaner asked about stained jacket

Jin Hee Choi, who operates VIP Dry Cleaners in Rothesay with her husband, also testified on Wednesday, with the help of a Korean translator.

Choi confirmed the dry cleaning receipt seized from Dennis Oland's home on July 14, 2011, matched the store copy, and that the tag on the brown sports jacket seized from his closet matched the receipt.

The receipt was dated July 8, 2011 — the day after Saint John police told Oland he was a suspect in his father's death.

The brown sports jacket seized from Dennis Oland's closet had four areas of blood on it that matched Richard Oland's DNA profile, the Crown has said. (Court exhibit)
Oland told police he was wearing a navy blazer when he went to visit his father at his office on July 6, but security video of him earlier that day shows he was wearing a brown jacket.

The Crown has said the jacket had four areas of blood on it that matched Richard Oland's DNA profile.

Choi said her husband routinely checks clothes dropped off for dry cleaning for any stains so he can pre-treat them.

Gold suggested there were no stains on the items Oland's wife, Lisa, had dropped off that day.

Choi said she didn't know.

Gold said Choi and her husband had told police at the time there were no stains.

Choi replied that it was her husband who had received the clothes and told police there were no stains.

Gold suggested blood stains take special treatment to remove and if they're heated up, they become permanent. Choi agreed.

Bloodstain expert RCMP Sgt. Brian Wentzell has previously testified there was no way to know how long the blood had been on the jacket.

Choi said the normal turnaround time for orders is two business days.

The court previously heard Oland's receipt indicated the 19 items would be ready for pickup on July 11, but that was crossed out and "SAT," for Saturday July 9, was handwritten instead.

Gold noted VIP offers two-day, one-day and same-day service, all for the same price.

So if the Oland's were anxious to get rid of stains, they could have asked for the items right away, he suggested. Choi agreed.

NOTE: The text messages in white in the court document below were sent by Diana Sedlacek to Richard Oland and the green ones are his replies. The only exception is the last green message, which was actually sent by Sedlacek, a computer forensic expert clarified for the court on Tuesday. The time stamp on each message should also be an hour later, the expert told the court, saying the software program used to extract them from the computer backup of Oland's iPhone did not account for daylight savings.