'Family tragedy of Shakespearean proportions': Oland gets life for murder
Kevin Bissett, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published Thursday, February 11, 2016 7:38AM AST
Last Updated Friday, February 12, 2016 8:22AM AST
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Dennis Oland has been sentenced to life in prison with the earliest possible chance of parole eligibility -- 10 years -- for the second-degree murder of his millionaire father.
Justice John Walsh said Thursday the younger Oland, an investment advisor, "simply lost it, snapped, or exploded."
"This was a family tragedy of Shakespearean proportions," Walsh said.
A jury found Oland guilty of Richard Oland's murder in December following a trial that lasted four months and captured widespread public attention.
On Thursday, Oland's lawyer, Gary Miller, pleaded with Walsh to consider his client's children in setting the sentence.
Miller provided Walsh with character references from Oland's family, saying he was needed and loved. He said the case doesn't require more than the minimum of 10 years before parole eligibility.
"I beg your lordship, give him the kind of sentence that allows him to get home to his family as soon as possible," Miller told a crowded Saint John courtroom.
Oland declined an offer from the judge to offer his own comments.
Walsh noted a pre-sentence report described Oland as a well-educated, 47-year-old man with no previous criminal record. He also said Oland told a parole officer that he can't feel remorse because he is innocent.
All 12 jurors recommended that Oland have no chance of parole for 10 years. But Crown lawyer Patrick Wilbur said the brutal nature of the elder Oland's death called for a sentence of between 12 and 15 years in jail before parole eligibility.
Richard Oland's body was found face down in a pool of blood in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. He had suffered 45 blunt and sharp force blows to his head, neck and hands, although no weapon was ever found.
Sheriffs had to turn most supporters away from Thursday's hearing. However, members of the Oland family were seated in the front row, and close to 100 people were crammed into the rows behind.
Later, outside of the court, Oland friend Larry Cain said the crowd of about 200 wanted to show their support for Oland and his family.
"They were gathered because they feel the same way that I do, that justice has not been served in this case," he said.
Senator John Wallace stood at the back of the courtroom during the sentencing. Outside court, Wallace said he's a friend of the Oland family and wanted to show his support and respect for them.
"It has been nightmarish for them and very painful for many, many in the community who they are so close to," Wallace said.
After his conviction, Oland's mother Connie said in statement the family was shocked by the outcome.
Walsh was given 73 character reference letters, 10 of which the Crown objected to.
The judge told defence lawyers it was offensive that some of the character references used their letters to give their personal opinions on the case.
"It's upsetting to me as a judge that people would do that," Walsh said, adding the only opinions that count were those of the jury.
"I am not pleased."
After a break, defence lawyers withdrew seven of the letters, and redacted three more to remove opinions about the verdict. Walsh also placed a provisional publication ban on four letters from Oland's children.
"I'm concerned about their privacy," he said.
Oland was dressed in the same brown suit and blue shirt he wore through much of the trial, and he smiled at family and supporters as he entered the courtroom.
A bail hearing will be held Friday in Fredericton as Oland's lawyers seek his release pending an appeal of his conviction. No date has been set.
The Olands are an establishment family in the history of the Maritimes, having founded Moosehead Breweries, although Richard Oland left the family business in 1981.
During the trial, the Crown focused on possible motives, including Dennis Oland's financial difficulties and the knowledge his father was having an affair.
The key piece of evidence for the Crown was a brown jacket worn by Dennis Oland that had a number of small blood stains and also DNA that matched the profile of Richard Oland.
Oland has repeatedly denied any involvement in his father's death.