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Dennis Oland charged with second-degree murder in father’s death

Richard Oland in 2010.

Dennis Oland, a member of the wealthy Maritime brewing family, is facing a second-degree murder charge in the death of his businessman father, Richard, who was killed in his office more than two years ago.

The 45-year-old investment banker was arrested Tuesday afternoon, while he washing his car near his tony Rothesay, N.B., home. Unshaven and wearing a scruffy grey sweatshirt, he made a brief appearance in a Saint John courtroom Wednesday.

"Yes, sir," he replied from behind the glass enclosure of the prisoner's dock after Judge Marco Cloutier of the provincial court read the charge and asked him whether he understood it.

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Finally police were able to make an arrest and lay a charge in a case that has gripped not only this port city but the entire province, given the length of the investigation and prominence of the Oland family.

According to police documents, Dennis Oland was the only suspect.

He remains in custody – and will appear again next week when it is expected his lawyer, Gary Miller, will set a date for a preliminary hearing.

The Oland family, including his uncle Derek, who owns Moosehead Breweries Ltd.; his mother, Constance; his wife, Lisa; and his two sisters, were all in the courtroom. Dennis Oland smiled and nodded to them.

They would not talk to the media – although Derek Oland, Richard's borther, released a statement Tuesday night stating police had made a mistake.

"We believe our nephew and cousin Dennis is, in fact, innocent and we will support him and his family members through the course of whatever legal actions unfold," he said in his statement.

Dennis Oland's immediate family also issued a statement: "We know Dennis is innocent," says the statement signed by his mother, wife and two sisters. "We are devastated that this nightmare for Dennis and for all of us is going to continue."

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Richard Oland, 69, who had left the family brewing business, was found dead in his Saint John office in July, 2011.

Police have not revealed what they believe to be the murder weapon nor had they described how he had died.

But in a news conference Wednesday, Police Chief Bill Reid allowed that Mr. Oland "expired after what I would categorize as repeated blows to his body."

He described the case as "very complicated," saying it was like putting together a "mosaic."

"We built a case from nothing, essentially," he said, noting that "unlike most serious crimes we had very little evidence in terms of witnesses."

He described the investigation as being process-driven. Previously released police documents show that they had seized some items to test for DNA.

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For example, forensic testing on a sports jacket owned by Dennis Oland showed blood on the outside right sleeve and the outside upper chest areas that had "DNA profiles that were obtained which matched Richard Oland's DNA standard," according to the documents.

Chief Reid dismissed any hint of criticism about the length of time it took to complete the case – "For some reason the media was under a time constraint and certainly we weren't."

"We were in no hurry to make a mistake," he said.

In fact, New Brunswick is one of three provinces along with British Columbia and Quebec that has a "pre-charge screening" process by the Crown. It means that police must make their case to the Crown before charges can be laid.

Chief Reid told reporters that last November they approached the Crown with their case – and were told to do more work before charges would be approved.

Chief Reid said that since then, police worked "very hard" to fulfill the Crown's requests. Last month, he said, they met again with the Crown and were "green to go in terms of making an arrest and a charge of second-degree murder was appropriate."

Mr. Oland was arrested without incident.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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