SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Richard Oland’s secretary says she panicked when she walked into the businessman’s office and found his body in July 2011, telling his son’s murder trial Thursday that she noticed a strong odour when she arrived for work.
Maureen Adamson testified that she set her coffee down and then saw something beyond one of the desks in Oland’s office in Saint John, N.B.
“I saw two legs protruding on the floor. I panicked. I went downstairs to get somebody,” Adamson told Dennis Oland’s trial in the Court of Queen’s Bench.
She ran downstairs to another business, Printing Plus, and told employee Preston Chiasson, “something’s wrong.”
They 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.
Dennis Oland has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.
Adamson said the well-known New Brunswick businessman was chatting about family history with his son the last time she saw him alive.
Dennis Oland arrived at his father’s office in Saint John around 5:30 p.m. on July 6, 2011, said Adamson, who found Richard Oland’s body the next day.
When she arrived for work on July 7, 2011, Adamson said there was a “vile odour” in the room.
“It was really bad,” she added.
Adamson told the court that she spoke with the younger Oland for a few minutes when he arrived at the office the previous evening before Richard Oland joined the conversation. The two men had a shared interest in genealogy and were discussing the family tree, she 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. Her husband was in their car outside waiting for her and she testified she left around 5:45 p.m.
Crown attorney P.J. Veniot told court on Wednesday that Dennis Oland was in dire financial straits and owed his father a significant amount of money.
Veniot said the elder Oland had bankrolled his son to help him keep his home after a costly divorce with his first wife. He gave his son a $500,000 loan and Dennis Oland was to make interest-only payments of $1,667 per month.
By July 6, 2011, Veniot said Dennis Oland had maxed out a $163,000 line of credit and secured an advance from his employer in June 2011.
He 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