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New Brunswick Police Commission releases report into review of Richard Oland investigation
HALIFAX -- The New Brunswick Police Commission has released its final report into the review of how the Saint John Police Force handled the investigation into the murder of multi-millionaire businessman Richard Oland.
His son, Dennis Oland, was charged with second-degree murder in his death, but was ultimately acquitted.
During Dennis Oland’s trial, the court heard that Richard Oland, 69, was beaten to death in his Saint John office on July 6, 2011, his skull shattered by repeated blows from a weapon that was never found.
During the trial, the court heard that at least 19 Saint John officers entered the crime scene on the day the body was discovered.
Many of the officers did not wear protective coverings, especially on their feet, despite the bloody scene.
“I think there was public concern as media was reporting and as evidence came out during the first trial and I guess a little bit during the second trial about perceived missteps by the police,” said author and professor Greg Marquis, who wrote a book about the case -- “Truth & Honour: The Death of Richard Oland and the Trial of Dennis Oland.”
On Dec. 23, 2015, the Saint John Board of Police Commissioners asked the New Brunswick Police Commission to conduct a review of the department’s major case management practices to determine if systems, processes and policies were in place to adequately investigate a homicide.
On Aug. 9, 2019, the NBPC requested documentation from the Saint John Board of Police Commissioners outlining efforts the Saint John Police Force has made to update policies, processes and training since the Oland homicide.
The NBPC conducted an on-site review to ensure stated policies and training were operationalized.
Three recommendations came out of the review:
- The New Brunswick Police Commission recommends the minister of public safety consider creating a provincial major case management policy.
- The Saint John chief of police will establish standard operating procedures and/or policy for investigating major crime incidents.
- The Saint John chief of police will utilize a ‘sudden death checklist for supervisors to complete upon conclusion of a sudden death incident deemed as non-criminal in nature.
The Saint John Police Force says the checklist has already been implemented and the standard operating procedures for investigating major crimes is in the process of being implemented.
“The SJPF is in compliance of the recommendations and thank the New Brunswick Police Commission for its due diligence in this matter,” said Saint John Police Force Chief Steph Drolet in a statement.
“This type of process is not an easy one but at times necessary. I am pleased to read in the report the NBPC is satisfied significant and permanent changes have been made by the SJPF in the investigation of major crime incidents.”
CTV News requested an interview with the Saint John Police Force but was told police had no further comment.
CTV News also requested an interview with the New Brunswick Police Commission but was told they were not available.
Dennis Oland spent close to a year in prison after being convicted by a jury in 2015. That verdict was overturned on appeal in 2016, and his second trial before judge alone resulted in a ruling of not guilty on July 19, 2019.
Justice Terrence Morrison of the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench found that Crown prosecutors failed to prove their case against Oland beyond a reasonable doubt.
In August, the Saint John Police Force said it was no longer actively investigating Richard Oland’s murder, despite the acquittal of his son.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Laura Lyall and The Canadian Press.