SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Dennis Oland says he is not a monster and would never hurt anyone, including his father.
Oland was testifying Thursday in his own defence at his trial for the second-degree murder of his father, Richard Oland, on July 6, 2011. The elder Oland, a wealthy New Brunswick businessman, was beaten to death in his Saint John office by an assailant wielding a hammer-like weapon.
In court, defence lawyer Michael Lacy asked Oland if he was the one who swung the weapon 45 times, shattering Richard Oland’s skull?
“No,” Oland said.
What does he say to those who claim he did, Lacy asked.
“It is absolutely ridiculous,” Oland replied.
“I’m not that kind of monster. I would never do that to my dad or to any person.”
Oland, a 51-year-old investment adviser, told the Saint John court he was juggling the routine demands of parenthood on the day his father was bludgeoned to death, texting his kids about basketball games, dental braces and trips.
There were discussions about kayaking, going to the beach and a mechanical problem with the sailboat his second wife, Lisa, co-owned with a friend.
“Typical day?” defence lawyer Michael Lacy asked.
“Yeah,” Oland answered. “Four kids are a lot of work.”
He said he was also at work that day, at CIBC Wood Gundy in Saint John. He had asked the company to help him get through a short-term “cash crunch” caused largely by spousal and child support payments, and monthly instalments he was struggling to pay his father for a $500,000 loan.
The prosecution has suggested Dennis Oland killed his father in a fit of rage triggered by financial pressure.
Oland acknowledged he was carrying a heavy debt load, but he calmly insisted it was not a big concern.
“The ongoing accumulation of debt, was it a concern for you?” Lacy asked after going over several, expensive international trips Dennis and Lisa took in the months prior to the killing.
“No,” Oland answered, adding it was the way he and his wife lived. “It’s stuff we always did and it was a continuation of that.”
He said he did not know that his cheque for his July loan payment to his father had bounced the day before due to insufficient funds. He said if he had known in advance, he would have asked his father’s secretary to hold off on cashing the cheque for a few days.
It was “not at all” an issue, he said.
Later on July 6, 2011, Oland dropped by his father’s nearby office to discuss an interest shared by father and son: genealogy. The Olands are a well-known Maritime business family that has its roots in England.
Dennis Oland had recently returned from a lengthy trip to England and he told the court he wanted to go over family history findings with his father.
His late afternoon visit marked the last known time Richard Oland was seen alive. His beaten body was found in a pool of blood on the floor of his office the next morning.
Oland told the court his visit lasted roughly an hour.
Within that time, he went to the office three times. He said the first time he did not enter because he had forgotten genealogy documents and he left to get them. The second time he went in for the visit and the third time he left but almost immediately returned because he had forgotten to pick up a family log book his mother wanted.
In his police interview on the day his father’s body was found, he did not mention that third visit to police. But he told the court he did not intentionally omit the information.
Oland is expected to be back on the stand Friday.
Chris Morris, The Canadian Press