Mis­trial de­clared in Oland re­trial

Jury dis­missed af­ter po­lice ‘im­pro­pri­eties,’ but trial re­sumes

The Peterborough Examiner - - Canada & World -

SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Af­ter de­lays, a mis­trial and dis­missal of the jury, the re­trial of Den­nis Oland for the sec­ond-de­gree mur­der of his mul­ti­mil­lion­aire father will fi­nally be­gin on Wed­nes­day by judge alone.

The mis­trial was an­nounced Tues­day by Jus­tice Ter­rence Mor­ri­son, cit­ing “im­pro­pri­eties” in jury se­lec­tion in­volv­ing an of­fi­cer with the Saint John po­lice.

Const. Sean Rocca ac­cessed a po­lice database to check on prospective and sworn ju­rors in vi­o­la­tion of a 2012 direc­tive from the Supreme Court of Canada con­cern­ing jury vet­ting.

“The Crown was not aware of these im­pro­pri­eties at the time they oc­curred. When the Crown found out, they im­me­di­ately no­ti­fied de­fence coun­sel,” the judge told the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench jury as he an­nounced the mis­trial.

“I have de­ter­mined that it is in the best in­ter­ests of jus­tice that a mis­trial be de­clared thereby en­sur­ing any fur­ther trial of this mat­ter will not be tainted.”

It turns out the in­ter­nal po­lice database was also used dur­ing jury se­lec­tion for the first Oland trial in 2015 — a jury that con­victed the 50-year-old fi­nan­cial ad­viser of the sec­ond-de­gree mur­der of his father, Richard Oland.

That con­vic­tion was over­turned on ap­peal in 2016 and the new trial or­dered.

Rocca, the file co-or­di­na­tor for Crown pros­e­cu­tors, was pay­ing par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion in his searches as to whether ju­rors may have had “neg­a­tive in­ter­ac­tions” with Saint John po­lice.

“Ob­vi­ously, we were aghast, gob­s­macked, to find out it had hap­pened pre­vi­ously,” chief de­fence coun­sel Alan Gold said Tues­day fol­low­ing the mis­trial an­nounce­ment.

“But our con­cern is what hap­pens now and the fu­ture and get­ting this trial done as ex­pe­di­tiously as pos­si­ble.”

In a state­ment late Tues­day, the city’s board of po­lice com­mis­sion­ers said it would be ask­ing the New Brunswick Po­lice Com­mis­sion to do an in­de­pen­dent re­view.

“We will be re­view­ing the court’s de­ci­sion to un­der­stand the is­sues iden­ti­fied and to learn from them. The board and the chief take these mat­ters very se­ri­ously,” it said in a state­ment.

Oland will be re-ar­raigned in a Saint John court­room on Wed­nes­day and he will re-en­ter his not guilty plea. The trial, be­fore Mor­ri­son, will then pro­ceed with open­ing state­ments and pos­si­bly the first wit­nesses.

Oland, his wife Lisa and mother Con­nie were all in court for the news on Tues­day, the lat­est twist in a case that has seen many.

Oland is charged in the blud­geon­ing death of his father, Richard, a busi­nessper­son and for­mer ex­ec­u­tive with Moose­head Brew­eries Ltd. in Saint John. The 69-year-old’s body was found on the morn­ing of July 7, 2011, in a pool of blood on the floor of his of­fice in the city’s up­town. He had been struck over 40 times, mostly on the head, with a weapon that has never been found.

Den­nis, his only son, is the last known per­son to have seen his father alive. He was charged in 2013, and has stead­fastly main­tained his in­no­cence with the sup­port of his fam­ily, in­clud­ing Con­nie, Richard’s widow.

Dur­ing the first trial, the Crown fo­cused on pos­si­ble is­sues of mo­tive, in­clud­ing Den­nis Oland’s fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties and the knowl­edge his father was hav­ing an af­fair.

But in his own tes­ti­mony, Den­nis Oland down­played his fi­nances as a re­cur­ring is­sue in the life of a fi­nan­cial ad­viser and said he never raised them with his father. He also said the two never dis­cussed his father’s af­fair.

The de­fence pointed to video that showed Den­nis Oland and his wife shop­ping later on the evening of July 6, 2011, when peo­ple work­ing be­low Richard Oland’s of­fice say they be­lieve they heard the sounds of the mur­der.

The de­ci­sion to pro­ceed with judge alone should speed up the re­trial.

AN­DREW VAUGHAN THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Den­nis Oland and his wife Lisa head from the Law Courts in Saint John, N.B., on Tues­day. A mis­trial has been de­clared in the re­trial of Oland for the sec­ond-de­gree mur­der of his mul­ti­mil­lion­aire father.

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