SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Richard Oland’s secretary remembers panicking when she walked into the businessman’s office and found his body in July 2011 as she testified at his son’s murder trial Thursday that she also noticed a “vile odour” when she arrived for work that day.
Maureen Adamson told the court she set her coffee down and then saw something beyond one of the desks in Oland’s office in Saint John, N.B., when she arrived between 8:45 a.m. and 9 a.m. on July 7, 2011.
When she got to work she found the street-level exterior door locked. An inner door to a hallway leading to the Far End Corp. offices wasn’t locked or latched.
Inside, she said she saw two legs protruding from behind a desk.
“I panicked. I went downstairs to get somebody,” Adamson told Dennis Oland’s trial in the Court of Queen’s Bench.
After telling Preston Chiasson at Printing Plus that “something’s wrong,” the pair went upstairs where Adamson said she went no further into the office than she had earlier. Chiasson went a bit further in, she said, and then called police or 911 to report that someone was dead or badly injured.
Adamson said Chiasson told her they had been instructed to leave the office, so they returned to Printing Plus to wait for the police.
“Police cars wailed down the street. It was bedlam,” she said.
She was asked by police within the next week to walk through the office to see if anything was out of the ordinary or missing, but Adamson said she didn’t notice anything amiss.
Dennis Oland, 46, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his 69-year-old father.
Adamson said Richard Oland was chatting about family history with his son the last time she saw him alive the day before she found his body. Dennis Oland arrived at his father’s office that day around 5:30 p.m., said Adamson.
She spoke with the younger Oland for a few minutes before Richard Oland joined the conversation. The two men had a shared interest in genealogy and were discussing their family tree, Adamson said.
She told the pair about a log book she wanted Dennis Oland to take with him, then shut off the coffee maker, made sure a door to an alleyway was locked, and left the building at around 5:45 p.m.
Adamson said she also remembered Dennis Oland was wearing a brown sports coat at the time of his visit that evening, a detail that stood out because of the warm weather.
“He had a jacket on. Good grief,” she said.
Adamson identified a man wearing a brown coat in photos taken from security cameras as Dennis Oland.
“I don’t know if that’s the exact jacket, but the jacket he was wearing was brown,” she said.
Crown attorney P.J. Veniot told the jury in his opening submission on Wednesday that despite witnesses who said he was wearing a brown jacket, Dennis Oland told police he had worn a blue blazer on July 6.
Veniot said Dennis Oland’s wife Lisa took several garments, including two jackets, to the dry cleaner the day after her husband was questioned by police. Investigators later seized a brown sports jacket from Oland’s home that had a dry cleaning tag attached.
Testing of the jacket found blood in four places, and Veniot said an expert will testify that the DNA matched that of Richard Oland.
Veniot said Richard Oland was killed in a violent outburst that resulted in 40 blows to his head and neck.
The Olands are one of the leading business families in the Maritimes, operating Moosehead Breweries, although Richard Oland left the company in 1981.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press