New Brunswick

Richard Oland was considering changing will, life insurance, jury hears

Richard Oland was considering changing his will and his life insurance policy just before he was killed, his long-time business associate Robert McFadden testified on Tuesday.

Son Dennis Oland and business associate Robert McFadden became co-directors of businesses after slaying

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

Richard Oland was considering changing his will and his life insurance policy just before he was killed, his long-time business associate Robert McFadden testified on Tuesday.

After his bludgeoning death in 2011, his son, Dennis Oland, and McFadden, who were co-executors of his will, became co-directors of his three businesses, the murder trial heard.

The prominent businessman's companies were worth about $36 million at the time, said McFadden, who is a chartered accountant.

Robert McFadden became co-director with Dennis Oland of Richard Oland's businesses following his bludgeoning death in 2011. (CBC)
Oland's 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 office the night before, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

Lead Crown prosecutor P.J. Veniot suggested in his opening statement to the jury at the beginning of the trial that money may have been a motive.

Dennis Oland was "on the edge financially," after going through a divorce, said Veniot, who described the relationship between the father and son as being "more like a client and banker."

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)
The accused was two months behind in making monthly interest payments of $1,666.67 on a $500,000 loan from his father, and his $27,000-limit credit card and $163,000 line of credit were both already "maxed out," Veniot said.

Within days of his father's death, Dennis Oland became president of his main numbered company, which continued to operate out of the same office — although it took about six months to clean it, paint and replace the "three, maybe four layers" of flooring the blood had "seeped" through.

McFadden became the president of the two subsidiaries: Far End Corporation and Kingshurst Estates Limited.

There was no evidence on Tuesday regarding whether the positions are paid.

Dennis Oland and McFadden also became trustees of a fund set up for Richard Oland's widow, Connie Oland.

'Will' on to-do list

A handwritten to-do list found on McFadden's desk at Richard Oland's office had "will" as the sixth item.

"It was a reoccurring event," said McFadden. "Once in a while he'd say, 'Let's revisit the will.'"

He wanted to set up a process for a family auction for "his stuff," and possibly a family trust, which offers some tax advantages, said McFadden.

Oland's existing will from 1996 was "relatively simple," he said. Oland's house in Rothesay, along with all of the furniture and fixtures, were to go to his widow.

After all of his debts and funeral were paid for, any assets realized, and the corporations, were to be transferred to a spousal trust.

Connie Oland would receive income from the residual. And if that was "insufficient," she could receive more from the capital, at the discretion of the trustees, Dennis Oland and McFadden. 

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

Company beneficiary of life insurance policy

On July 6, the day police believe Oland was killed, he had a meeting with two men who were "peddling" life insurance, hoping to sell him a new policy, said McFadden.

Oland's existing policy, which listed Far End Corporation as the beneficiary, was up for renewal "in the foreseeable future."

The multimillionaire "declared he was in good health and was willing to go through the medical tests to see if he could get a better rate on his insurance," McFadden said.

There was no evidence on Tuesday about what might have changed under a new policy.

McFadden's testimony is expected to continue on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

Refused request for DNA sample

McFadden did not fully co-operate with the police investigation, the courtroom heard.

He gave police a statement on the morning Richard Oland's body was discovered, when he "had a sense there was foul play," but later refused to provide a DNA sample.

"I'm not going to ask you why, sir," said Veniot.

Police subsequently obtained a "cast-off" DNA sample for McFadden covertly, seizing a straw he had used at East Side Mario's on Dec. 29, 2013.

McFadden knew Richard Oland since the early 1980s, when they worked together on the Canada Games Society.

He subsequently worked for Oland at his trucking company, Brookville Transport Ltd., until it was sold, then set up his own business, handling mergers and acquisitions for other clients, while continuing to do some per diem work for Oland.

By 2006, "for all intents and purposes, [Oland] consumed all of my available time," said McFadden, who ended up setting up in his Far End Corporation office.

He helped Oland with everything from preparing his taxes, to setting up his computer systems and a backup program for his iPhone, to dealing with suppliers and contractors for the new sailboat he was building in Spain, he said.

"They were often very interesting days."

Never discussed extramarital affair

McFadden met Dennis Oland around 1995. He had some of his RRSPs with Oland, who worked as an investment advisor at CIBC Wood Gundy.

In 2008-09, when Dennis Oland was going through a divorce from his first wife, Lesley, Richard Oland offered his son McFadden's "services."

"Richard thought he needed help" and "certainly wanted to have some input in how things were settled," said McFadden.

McFadden helped him with the "negotiations" and "paper work" over the course of about two years.

"Dick" provided $538,00 — $120,000 for the cash settlement of marital property, $303,000 to settle the mortgage on the family home and $115,000 to cover the line of credit debt.

Kingshurst Estates also purchased the adjacent "farm" property, where stables are located, McFadden said.

Around 2010, Dennis Oland confided in McFadden about the extramarital affair his father was having with a woman named Diana Sedlacek.

He requested that McFadden suggest to his father that word about the affair was "getting out" and "to cool it."

McFadden testified the "opportunity never came up."

"Richard was careful." He and Sedlacek would take separate flights when going on trips together and would "meet away from Saint John," said McFadden.

"He never made me aware of [the affair] directly." But it wasn't hard to "follow the money" and "figure out what was going on," he said, citing flights for Sedlacek as an example.

McFadden was also aware of emails and text messages between them, he said.

Oland had described the affair as a "family concern" in his voluntary statement to police.