Richard Oland seemed happy to see his son Dennis hours before murder

Richard Oland \seemed happy to see\ his son Dennis hours before murder
Same old Dennis greeted Richard Olands secretary in hours before homicide
Richard Oland was pleased to see his son when he stopped by his Saint John office unannounced on the night he was killed, Dennis Oland's murder trial heard Thursday.

Maureen Adamson, the elder Oland's secretary, testified he gave his son an "animated 'hello.'"

The second jury trial was declared a mistrial before it got started earlier this week. Justice Terrence Morrison of the New Brunswick Court of Queens Bench cited "improprieties" in the jury selection process. It turned out a Saint John police officer coordinating files for Crown prosecutors was accessing an internal police database to research jurors in violation of a directive from the Supreme Court of Canada.

Richard Oland seemed happy to see his son Dennis hours before murder

"As I remember, it was sort of a, 'Hey, Dennis," she said. "He seemed to be quite happy to see him."

Dennis Oland, 50, is being retried for second-degree murder in the bludgeoning death of his multimillionaire father more than seven years ago.

It was Adamson who discovered the 69-year-old businessman's body in his office on July 7, 2011. He was face down in a pool of blood and had suffered more than 40 wounds to his head, neck and hands.

Adamson also said Richard Oland did not keep close track of the monthly payments his son had to make. She agreed when Lacy said that he would only ask about the loan to Dennis and his payments "once in a blue moon." She said he never complained to her about the loan.

Adamson, the Crown prosecution's first witness, described being struck by a "terrible, terrible vile odour" and seeing legs splayed on the floor before she rushed to get help.

Dennis Oland was the last known person to see his father alive when he visited him the night before at his investment firm office, located on the second storey of 52 Canterbury St.

SAINT JOHN, N.B. — On the day he was savagely beaten to death, multi-millionaire businessman Richard Oland was catching up on work in his Saint John office and appeared pleased when his only son, Dennis, popped in to discuss genealogy and the Oland family tree.

She "chit-chatted" with him briefly about his daughter, who had been named most valuable player at a basketball tournament, she said under cross-examination by defence lawyer Michael Lacy.

"When Dennis came up and was speaking to you, it was the same old Dennis you'd talked to before, right?" asked Lacy.

"There was nothing about his demeanour or the way he was conducting himself that put you on guard about anything, is that fair?" Lacy asked.

Adamson said Dennis Oland was not a frequent visitor to his fathers uptown Saint John office, but when he showed up late in the day of July 6, 2011 — the day of the murder — Richard Oland seemed happy to see him.

When she left the father and son alone together, they were discussing genealogy, with Richard Oland seated at his desk and Dennis Oland standing beside him, the courtroom heard. The pair were so engrossed in their conversation, Adamson said, they didn't respond to her when she said goodbye.

On Wednesday, during opening statements, Crown prosecutor Jill Knee described the relationship between father and son as being "strained."

Adamson said she mostly saw them at the office, but as far as she knew, they had a good relationship.

The defence is arguing Dennis was used to being in debt and did not regard it as a big deal. The prosecution says financial pressures were the trigger for what it describes as a rage killing.

"Aside from what I call normal grumblings most people have with family members … I thought they got along well," she said. "I did not see that distress that I heard about later on" through media reports.

Lacy also challenged the Crown's theory of a possible financial motive for the murder. Knee said Wednesday that Dennis Oland's bank account was overdrawn, his credit was maxed out and his latest monthly interest payment of $1,666.67 to his father — for $500,000 he received in 2009 during his divorce from his first wife — had bounced.

Over seven years later, Dennis Oland is on trial for a second time for the bludgeoning death of his dad on that day in 2011, and prosecutors have told the court money was the motive.

Adamson said she handled Dennis Oland's payments and agreed with Lacy that Richard Oland would only inquire "once in a blue moon."

A jury found Oland guilty in December 2015, but the New Brunswick Court of Appeal overturned the conviction in October 2016 and ordered a new trial, citing an error in the trial judge's instructions to the jury

Richard Oland was a former executive with Moosehead Breweries in Saint John, although he left the company in the early 1980s. Adamson said he was worth about $37 million.

Justice Terrence Morrison dismissed the 16 jurors chosen for the retrial on Tuesday over concerns the jury selection was tainted. Morrison is presiding over the new retrial without a jury.

On Wednesday, lead defence lawyer Alan Gold and Crown prosecutor Jill Knee delivered their opening statements. Gold said Oland will once again testify in his own defence.

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"It was an animated hello, a Hey Dennis," she said of Richard Olands greeting to the man subsequently accused of his murder.

SAINT JOHN, N.B. — On the day he was savagely beaten to death, multi-millionaire businessman Richard Oland was catching up on work in his Saint John office and appeared pleased when his only son, Dennis, popped in to discuss genealogy and the Oland family tree.

Dennis Oland heads to the Law Courts in Saint John, N.B., on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Over seven years later, Dennis Oland is on trial for a second time for the bludgeoning death of his dad on that day in 2011, and prosecutors have told the court money was the motive.

Maureen Adamson, Richard Olands executive assistant at the time of his death, was on the stand for day two of the Oland murder retrial on Thursday, recounting the daily routine of the office in uptown Saint John which included keeping track of money Dennis owed his father.

She was the first to discover the body and the bloody crime scene on the morning of July 7, 2011. Oland, 69, had been struck 45 times, mostly on the head, with a weapon that was never found.

Adamson said Dennis was making interest-only payments of $1,666.67 per month on a loan of more than half a million dollars Richard Oland had extended when Dennis was in a tight financial spot due to divorce several years earlier.

Prosecutors have told the court, and the defence has agreed, that at the time of his fathers death Dennis Oland had fallen again into severe financial stress as a result of living beyond his means.

The defence is arguing Dennis was used to being in debt and did not regard it as a big deal. The prosecution says financial pressures were the trigger for what it describes as a rage killing.

Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Michael Lacy, a Toronto lawyer and a new member of the Oland defence team, Adamson described what she knew about the relationship between father and son, saying she did not see signs of the strained and troubled relationship referred to by prosecutors.

Adamson said Dennis Oland was not a frequent visitor to his fathers uptown Saint John office, but when he showed up late in the day of July 6, 2011 — the day of the murder — Richard Oland seemed happy to see him.

"It was an animated hello, a Hey Dennis," she said of Richard Olands greeting to the man subsequently accused of his murder.

Adamson said both Olands were engrossed in research Dennis was spearheading into the family tree, stretching back to its roots in Great Britain. The Olands are one of the best known business families in the Maritimes, where they have been involved in brewing beer since the 19th century.

Richard Oland was a former executive with Moosehead Breweries in Saint John, although he left the company in the early 1980s. Adamson said he was worth about $37 million.

On the day of the murder, she left shortly after Dennis Olands arrival at around 5:30 p.m. From that point on, father and son were alone in the office.

Dennis said he left a little after 6:30 p.m. and headed back to his home in Rothesay, on the outskirts of the city. He told police his father was fine when he left and he has steadfastly maintained he is innocent of the crime.

"Aside from the normal grumblings most people have with family members … I thought they got along well," Adamson said. "I did not see that stress I heard about later (during the first trial)."

Adamson also said Richard Oland did not keep close track of the monthly payments his son had to make. She agreed when Lacy said that he would only ask about the loan to Dennis and his payments "once in a blue moon." She said he never complained to her about the loan.

Dennis Oland, 50, was convicted in 2015 of the second-degree murder of his father after a lengthy jury trial. That conviction was set aside on appeal in 2016 and a new trial ordered.

The second jury trial was declared a mistrial before it got started earlier this week. Justice Terrence Morrison of the New Brunswick Court of Queens Bench cited "improprieties" in the jury selection process. It turned out a Saint John police officer coordinating files for Crown prosecutors was accessing an internal police database to research jurors in violation of a directive from the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Crown was not involved in the improper searches and immediately informed the defence and the judge. The trial is now being heard by Morrison alone.