New Brunswick

Saint Johners react to 'not guilty' verdict in Dennis Oland murder trial

For eight years, the murder of multimillionaire Richard Oland and the subsequent murder trial and retrial of his son Dennis have been a constant conversation among Saint John residents.

Mixed opinions follow judge's decision to find Oland not guilty in father's death

Dennis Oland and his wife Lisa arrive at the court building in Saint John on Friday before . (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

For eight years, the murder of multimillionaire Richard Oland and the subsequent murder trial and retrial of his son Dennis have been a constant conversation among Saint John residents.  

News Friday that the younger Oland was found not guilty of second degree murder quickly rippled through the city, bringing mixed reactions from residents. 

"That's wrong," said Allen Horsman after hearing Justice Terrence Morrison's decision. "He got off with it." 

Horsman said he was surprised by the news and in his mind justice wasn't served. He believes the evidence presented at Oland's second murder trial should have been enough for a conviction.

Allen Horsman says he believes justice wasn’t served. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

"I'm not surprised," said Susan Ainsworth minutes after hearing the news. "There was no evidence." 

Ainsworth cited a "lack of investigation" into the murder by the Saint John police as her reason for agreeing with the  decision.

"I'm not surprised — and happy he's not guilty."

Susan Ainsworth says she feels there wasn't evidence to convict Oland. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

"I think he had a fair trial," said Neil McIntyre. "But it doesn't surprise me in the least." 

McIntyre said he felt there was enough evidence on either side, and the decision could have gone either way. He said he didn't envy Morrison's role of having to make a difficult decision. 

Some who were shocked by the outcome pointed to the family's wealth as their reason. 

 "I'm kind of surprised, but as someone said 'money talks,'" said Melanie Clark. "He's getting away with it. That's brutal." 

Melanie Clark believes Oland got the not guilty decision in part because of his family's wealth. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

A Saint John law student who was in the courtroom Friday morning said it's only natural for people to want the best defence possible. 

"For some people there is a perception that if you come from wealth that maybe you have an advantage in cases like these and I think that's certainly true," said Alex Hoyt, who finished his first year of his law degree at McGill University this year.

"But you can't fault someone for finding good representation."

Hoyt said that he was in high school eight years ago when Richard Oland was found slain in his office on Canterbury Street in Saint John.

A jury found Dennis Oland guilty at his first trial but he successfully appealed and won a new trial, this one before a judge alone.

Hoyt said the trials were just "a part of life" and growing up. 

"We actually wagered, last night, a round of beers on what was going to happen," he said. "And I said 'not guilty' because I agreed with the judge's decision, and I think there was a substantial body of circumstantial evidence."

Law student Alex Hoyt says that coming from Saint John the Oland odyssey has been a part of his life. He was able to be in the courtroom during the reading of Friday's verdict. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Some empathized with Dennis Oland because of what he has endured over the last eight years.

"If the man is not guilty, he's not guilty," said Jonnelle Lake. "He's been through hell and back and he's probably destroyed.

"So whatever part of his life he's lost he's never going to get back. I can't imagine going through something like that, so I wish him the best."

Jonnelle Lake says regardless of the verdict it's obvious Dennis Oland has 'been though hell and back.' (Shane Fowler/CBC)

About the Author

Shane Fowler


Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.