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Judge to rule on search warrants after Richard Oland’s death

Richard Oland in 2010.

A New Brunswick judge will decide what, if any, information from search warrants can be released in the investigation into the killing of beer brewing scion Richard Oland.

The Crown withdrew an application on Tuesday to prevent the release of the search warrants.

Mr. Oland was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7 of last year. Police have said the 69-year-old's death was a homicide, but have not released details about how he was killed.

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Investigators executed search warrants in the weeks after Mr. Oland's death.

Crown lawyer John Henheffer had previously argued that releasing the documents could jeopardize the police investigation.

The public was barred from a closed-door hearing on the matter in provincial court on Tuesday, but was allowed back in when Justice R. Leslie Jackson announced the Crown had abandoned its application to block the release of the information in its entirety.

The decision was welcomed by the lawyer representing CBC and the Saint John Telegraph-Journal, who are opposed to keeping the information sealed.

"The Crown is now taking a proper approach … which is to specifically justify and give reasons for why it is necessary at this stage to still maintain confidentiality over anything," David Coles said outside the court.

The judge is expected to outline which information can be released during a hearing on Wednesday.

Mr. Coles said that before any information is released to the public, lawyers representing members of the Oland family want to look it over.

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"Counsel for the so-called interested persons take the view that they would like to see the information that's released first in case they believe there is disclosure in there that the media and the general public ought not to see," Mr. Coles said.

The investigation has been shrouded in mystery for more than a year.

Mr. Oland was a member of a beer-making family – owners of Moosehead Breweries Ltd. – although he left the company in the 1980s.

He grew up in Rothesay, a suburb of Saint John, and was educated at the University of New Brunswick. He was the younger brother of Derek Oland, who is now executive chairman of Moosehead.

Richard Oland also worked in the trucking business, at the Saint John Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., and as a director for several firms, including Eastern Provincial Airways, Newfoundland Capital Corp. and Ganong Bros.

He also served as president of the board of the 1985 Canada Summer Games in Saint John, and was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in 1998.

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The Oland family can trace its brewing roots to 1867, when John and Susannah Oland started the Army and Navy Brewery in what was then Dartmouth. The company was later sold, but the family returned to the business, eventually setting up the Maritime Brewing and Malting Co. in the port city.

After the Halifax Explosion destroyed the family's plant in 1917, George Oland – Richard's grandfather – moved to New Brunswick and bought another brewery.

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