Not Guilty Verdict in Dennis Oland Murder Trial
SAINT JOHN - Dennis Oland has been found not guilty of second-degree murder at his retrial in the death of his father Richard Oland, eight years to the month after the multimillionaire was bludgeoned to death in Saint John, New Brunswick.
Justice Terrence Morrison of New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench delivered his 15-minute oral decision at the Law Courts building to gasps and a scattering of claps in the packed courtroom.
Morrison, who had been deliberating for 10 weeks, said more than suspicion is required to convict a person of murder. Probable guilt is not enough. In a circumstantial case such as this, the pieces of the evidential puzzle must form a picture that is consistent with guilt - and only consistent with guilt, he said. "There is much to implicate" Oland in the killing, said Morrison, citing as an example the four small bloodstains and DNA matching his father's profile found on the jacket Oland wore when he visited his father at his office on the evening of July 6, 2011 and became the last known person to see him alive.
The body of Richard Oland, 69, of the prominent Moosehead Breweries family, was discovered face down in a pool of blood in his uptown Saint John investment firm office the next morning. He had suffered 45 sharp-and blunt-force injuries to his head, neck and hands. No weapon was ever found.
Morrison also noted "some frailties" in Dennis Oland's testimony, which he said "tends to undermine his credibility. In light of those and the evidence as a whole, I cannot accept outright the accused's denial of guilt," he said. "However, I am not confident that I can accept the Crown's version of events. In this case there are too many missing puzzle pieces to form a coherent portrait of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In short, I am not satisfied that the Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that it was Dennis Oland who killed Richard Oland."
Oland grinned as he left the courthouse a free man after eight years and two trials, clutching hands with his wife Lisa Andrik-Oland and daughter Hannah.
At a news conference after the not guilty verdict came down, Oland's lawyer, Alan Gold, said it was an important day to "acknowledge the fact that Dennis did not kill his father." He said public opinion polling commissioned by the defence showed 27 per cent of the 401 respondents in the Saint John area said they believe Oland is guilty. "I sincerely hope that having heard the verdict of not guilty from a judge who looked carefully through all the evidence, who spent months considering whether the Crown could prove that Dennis was the killer and decided they could not, I hope those 27 per cent of the people will admit they were wrong. I hope that everybody in Saint John now understands and appreciates that Dennis Oland did not kill his father and understands the misery that he and his family and his friends and supporters have gone through through the last eight years."
Gold said he was uncomfortable with people congratulating him and saying it was a day to celebrate. "Dennis lost his dad to a brutal murder," he stressed. It will be a day to celebrate, said Gold, when "the actual perpetrators" of this "terrible, terrible crime" are finally caught and brought to justice.
He said Saint John police wrongly focused their investigation on Oland and demonstrated "tunnel vision". "The very same day that the body was found, before the police had even talked to Dennis, they were discussing putting 24 hours surveillance on Dennis, simply because he was the last known person to see his father. Based on a flawed investigation, they [police] never took their eyes off him."
Gold called on police to "start doing the investigation that should have been done eight years ago". If the local force won't then "perhaps some outside force should come in," he said.
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