SAINT JOHN, N.B. — High-profile New Brunswick businessman Richard Oland was killed in a violent outburst that resulted in 40 blows to his head and neck, the Crown alleged Wednesday as it opened its murder case against his son.
“The manner and cause of death point to an act committed by a perpetrator who, in a rage, intended to kill Richard Oland but not in a simple senseless act of a strike or two, or three to the head,” Crown attorney P.J. Veniot told a jury in the Court of Queen’s Bench in Saint John.
“Richard Oland suffered no less than 40 blows. The perpetrator for whatever reason or reasons continued way beyond what was required to cause Richard Oland’s death.”
Dennis Oland has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder in the death of his 69-year-old father, who was found dead in his office in Saint John, N.B., in July 2011.
Veniot said Richard Oland suffered six defensive wounds to his hands during the fatal beating. Veniot said Oland’s secretary, Maureen Adamson, found his body on July 7, 2011, face down in a pool of blood.
Adamson has taken the stand as the Crown’s first witness but isn’t expected to describe the murder scene until she resumes her testimony Tuesday morning.
She has stated that Oland’s business, known as Far End Corp., was located on the second floor of 52 Canterbury Street above a printing business.
Adamson said she was normally the first to arrive in the morning and had to unlock three doors to gain access to the office, but on July 7, 2011, those doors were unlocked and the lights and an air conditioner that should have been turned off the previous evening were still on.
The Olands are one of the leading business families in the Maritimes, operating Moosehead Breweries, although Richard Oland left the company in 1981.
Several family members were in court for the opening of the trial, including Dennis’ wife Lisa, his sister Lisa, his mother Constance and uncle Derek Oland.
The Crown’s opening statement also touched on the relationship between father and son, with Veniot saying it was more like that of a client and banker.
The prosecutor said Richard Oland was wealthy and worth more than $30 million, but his son was in dire financial straits. Veniot told the jury the elder Oland had bankrolled Dennis to help him keep his home after a costly divorce with his first wife.
Richard gave his son a $500,000 loan and Dennis was to make interest-only payments of $1,667 per month to his father. Dennis was also paying $4,233 per month in child support payments.
By July 6, 2011, when Veniot says Dennis went to see his father at his office, he had maxed out a $163,000 line of credit and secured an advance from his employer in June 2011.
“The accused was a man living beyond his financial means,” Veniot said.
Veniot said Dennis had not made his May or June payments to his father and a cheque he wrote for the first of those payments was declined on June 5, 2011, for insufficient funds.
Adamson told the court that she received a letter from the bank saying that the cheque was rejected, but she didn’t get that letter until well after her boss’s death.
She said Oland was worth more than $37 million at the time of his death and he monitored his finances very closely — even requiring his wife to submit receipts for the monthly household expenses before he would write her a cheque for reimbursement.
Veniot said no weapon has ever been found and the only thing missing from Oland’s office was his iPhone.
The trial is scheduled to last 65 days.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press