New Brunswick

Saint John deputy chief now under criminal investigation over Oland trial allegations

Saint John Police Force Deputy Chief Glen McCloskey is the subject of a criminal investigation over allegations raised during testimony at the murder trial of Dennis Oland.

Glen McCloskey being investigated by Halifax police over alleged 'witness tampering' in Oland murder case

Saint John Police Force Deputy Chief Glen McCloskey, a 27-year veteran, remains on active duty while Halifax Regional Police investigate allegations against him. (CBC)

Saint John Police Force Deputy Chief Glen McCloskey is the subject of a criminal investigation over allegations raised during testimony at the murder trial of Dennis Oland.

Halifax Regional Police are conducting the investigation at the request of Saint John Police Force Chief John Bates, who described the nature of the allegation as being "for lack of a better choice of words, sort of a witness tampering."

The New Brunswick Police Commission was initially investigating a conduct complaint against McCloskey under the Police Act.

But within a month, the commission's investigator "came to the conclusion that there were criminal allegations that needed to be examined," executive director Steve Roberge told CBC News.

The investigator, former Fredericton Police Force chief Barry McKnight "then advised us accordingly. We suspended the Police Act investigation in January. We advised Chief Bates of our investigator's conclusions and Chief Bates then assumed the matter from there."

Roberge declined to comment on the nature of the "criminal allegations," citing the ongoing criminal investigation.

McCloskey, a 27-year veteran, remains on active duty. He could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Oland's lawyers, who are appealing his second-degree murder conviction in the 2011 bludgeoning death of his father, multimillionaire Richard Oland, also declined to comment.

The Crown prosecutors could not immediately be reached for comment.

Relates to murder scene, not box of evidence

The investigation stems from the testimony of retired staff sergeant Mike King at Oland's trial last fall.

King testified on Oct. 13 that McCloskey had encouraged him not to reveal that McCloskey had entered the bloody crime scene.

Mike King, a retired staff sergeant with the Saint John Police Force, testified that Deputy Chief Glen McCloskey wanted him to withhold information about his presence at the Richard Oland murder scene. (CBC)
King said he was in McCloskey's office either before or during Oland's preliminary inquiry in 2014 when McCloskey referred to another officer as being an "idiot" for having said that he was there.

King said his reaction was, "You were in the room." McCloskey's reply, according to King, was, "Well, you don't have to tell them that."

King said McCloskey's intentions were clear. "There was no misunderstanding for me."

McCloskey, who also testified at the trial, denied King's allegations and suggested it was King who lied to the court about him because he was angry about being passed over for a promotion.

McCloskey told the court he entered the crime scene twice on July 7, 2011, the day Oland's body was discovered — once to "observe the body" and then again out of "curiosity."

"It was wrong, I shouldn't have been in there," testified McCloskey, who was inspector of the criminal investigations division at the time, but was only on site as a "resource person."

King had also alleged McCloskey had a box of exhibits related to the Oland investigation in his office that he wanted him to deliver to the RCMP in Fredericton, which was not the "normal procedure."

King did not say what was in the box, but did say seized exhibits normally stay in the custody of the forensic identification unit and any movement is documented to ensure continuity.

'For transparency sake'

Bates told CBC News he has "no information with regard to that."

"That is certainly nothing that I have asked the Halifax police to look into, or anybody else," he said.

Dennis Oland, 48, is serving a life sentence after being found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2011 death of his father, prominent businessman Richard Oland. (CBC)
"The allegation that we're having them look into is that King had been asked by McCloskey to somehow temper his testimony."

Bates had asked the commission to look into the matter on Oct. 14, but because the nature of the allegation was "beyond the purview" of the commission, has since asked Halifax Regional Police to take over.

"It's unproven and it's simply an allegation at this time," stressed Bates.

"Having said that, because of the nature of the allegation … we thought for transparency sake, and to be fair to Deputy Chief McCloskey … that we'd ask an outside agency to look into the allegation," he said.

In order to protect the integrity of an ongoing investigation, we won't discuss the specifics or speculate how long it may take.- Halifax Regional Police

It's unclear how long the investigation by the Halifax Regional Police force's integrated criminal investigation division will take. Spokeswoman Const. Dianne Woodworth declined to even confirm it's McCloskey being investigated over "an allegation of potential wrongdoing."

"We will not confirm the name of the subject(s) of the investigation or comment on any possible charges," Woodworth said in an emailed statement.

"In order to protect the integrity of an ongoing investigation, we won't discuss the specifics or speculate how long it may take," she added.

'Held in high regard'

In the meantime, Bates said McCloskey "continues to go about his duties and conducts his affairs in a professional and admirable way."

"At this point in time, he continues to be — and has my support as being — a full-fledged and valuable member of the Saint John Police Force."

McCloskey, who served as the force's acting chief between Bill Reid's retirement last April and Bates taking over last fall, is "held in high regard" in the policing community, said Bates.

It's a reputation McCloskey "has earned and enjoys," he said.

"You can well imagine the kind of impact such an allegation would have on an individual whose whole career has been dedicated to public service and conducted himself in an honourable fashion for 28 years."

The New Brunswick Police Commission will resume its Police Act investigation of McCloskey "once the criminal matters are dealt with," according to the executive director.

"And by saying 'dealt with,' we mean the entire proceedings are dealt with — not only an investigation, but if there's any follow up criminal process," said Roberge. "Then, and only then, will we resume our Police Act investigation."

Review of murder investigation on hold

The commission was also reviewing the Saint John Police Force's handling of the Richard Oland murder investigation at the request of then-chair of the Saint John Board of Police Commissioners, Nicole Paquet.

But that review has been suspended pending Dennis Oland's appeal of his murder conviction in the death of his father.

The appeal is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 18-21, provided a transcript of the three-month trial can be completed in time.

The trial heard evidence that police failed to protect the crime scene from possible contamination, used the bathroom 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.

Oland, 48, is currently serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 10 years after being found guilty by a jury in Court of Queen's Bench in Saint John on Dec. 19.

The bludgeoned body of Richard Oland, 69, was discovered lying face down in a pool of blood in his Saint John investment firm office on the morning of July 7, 2011. He had suffered 45 sharp and blunt force injuries to his head, neck and hands.

His son was the last known person to see him alive during a meeting at his office the night before. No weapon was ever found.

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