N.B. court grants Dennis Oland bail pending new murder trial
FREDERICTON -- Dennis Oland held hands with his wife and children as he exited by the front door of the Fredericton courthouse Tuesday, free on bail a day after an appeal court quashed his murder conviction and ordered a new trial.
"As a family, we are very relieved," said Moosehead Breweries Ltd. executive chairman Derek Oland, who has steadfastly maintained his nephew's innocence.
Dennis Oland had been delivered to a back entrance of the courthouse in a sheriff's van, wearing handcuffs and shackles. But Justice Marc Richard said Oland has regained the presumption of innocence, and that he was no threat to the public or a flight risk, and ordered him set free.
The judge said the public's faith in the justice system would be shaken more by Oland's continued detention than by an order granting him bail.
"Any reasonable member of the public would understand that Mr. Oland has reacquired the presumption of innocence as a result of the decision of this court yesterday," Richard said.
New Brunswick's Court of Appeal ordered a new trial Monday, 10 months after a jury convicted him of second-degree murder in the bludgeoning death of his multimillionaire father, Richard.
The appeal court found that the trial judge did not properly instruct the jury on evidence around the jacket Dennis Oland was wearing the day of the murder.
Oland, a financial planner and scion of one of the Maritimes' most prominent families, told police he was wearing a navy blazer, but later admitted he was wearing a brown Hugo Boss jacket.
The Crown portrayed the statement as an intentional lie, while the defence said it was an honest mistake.
The brown jacket was later found to have minuscule blood stains and DNA matching the profile of Oland's 69-year-old father, who was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011.
On Tuesday, the judge ordered Oland be subject to the same release conditions he had before his now-vacated conviction.
"It's obvious from the affidavits that have been filed that he has the strong support of several reputable friends and family members, some of whom offer to stand as sureties for him if he is released," said the judge.
Richard asked Derek Oland if he would continue to act as a surety for Dennis, putting up $50,000.
"Yes, your honour," Derek Oland replied from the gallery.
Dennis Oland looked upbeat and smiled with family members in the courtroom as he listened to his lawyers and Crown prosecutors present the case for bail. Afterward, reporters repeatedly asked him for comment, but he stayed silent as he walked with family members and supporters to a law office a block away from the courthouse.
"Obviously we're delighted that this Christmas is going to be better for them than last Christmas was," said his lawyer, Alan Gold.
The Supreme Court of Canada was to hear an application for bail pending appeal on Monday. Gold said the court will decide this week if it still wants to hear the case.
Oland is to be back in court Dec. 5 to set a date for the new trial.
Gold wouldn't say if he'd seek a trial by judge alone or go for another jury trial.
"I don't want to discuss anything about the future right now. Obviously there's a lot of work that has to be done," he said.