FREDERICTON – A judge has denied bail to convicted murderer Dennis Oland, saying releasing him pending his appeal would undermine public faith in the justice system.
Oland was sentenced last week to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years for the 2011 second-degree murder of his multi-millionaire father, Richard Oland, but had asked to be freed while he appeals his conviction.
“Should Mr. Oland be released in these circumstances, the confidence of the reasonable member of the public in the administration of criminal justice would be undermined,” Justice Marc Richard told a packed courtroom on Wednesday.
No convicted murderer had ever been granted bail while awaiting appeal in New Brunswick.
Wearing the same brown suit and blue shirt he has repeatedly worn to court, Oland, 48, showed no reaction while being led away as family members wept and hugged each other.
“Today’s decision is difficult to accept,” Dennis Oland’s mother, Connie, and wife, Lisa, said in a statement issued by the family’s lawyer, Bill Teed.
“We know Dennis has been wrongly convicted and are confident our appeal will see justice prevail. His prolonged absence will be incredibly difficult and only serves to further compound the loss and anguish our family has suffered since Dick’s murder.
“We will continue our long legal battle by pursuing every option to prove Dennis’s innocence. We will not rest until he is home and Dick’s killer is found.”
Defence lawyer Alan Gold argued last week that Oland is willing to abide by all conditions and that his client’s mother and uncle are willing to post $400,000 surety.
Richard said Oland met two of the three conditions needed to win bail — the appeal was not frivolous, and he could be expected to abide by terms of the release.
But the judge said that Oland, though no danger to the public at large, nonetheless failed to establish that his detention is not necessary in the public interest.
“Although the grounds of appeal may be clearly arguable, none fall in the category of the unique circumstances that would virtually assure a new trial or an acquittal,” Richard said.
The elder Oland was found bludgeoned in his Saint John office in July 2011. He had suffered 45 blunt and sharp force blows to his head, neck and hands. No murder weapon was ever found.
In its notice of appeal, the defence argues that the verdict was “an unreasonable verdict in law and not one that a reasonable jury, properly instructed, could judicially have arrived at.”
Nicole O’Byrne, a law professor at the University of New Brunswick said the decision on the bail application should not be seen as a possible precursor to the appeal.
“They are two very separate things,” she said Wednesday.
She said even though the lawyers for Oland had argued that their grounds for appeal were not frivolous, those grounds would have no bearing on the bail decision.
“You just don’t want to have an appeal that has no hope, that has no basis, and that’s the frivolous standard,” she said.
It is expected to be at least October before an appeal in the case could be heard. It will take some time to prepare a written transcript of the trial, which lasted more than 50 days.
O’Byrne said while other murder cases make their way through the New Brunswick courts, this case will continue to garner a lot of interest because of the people involved.
“It has been extraordinary how much interest this case has generated in the province and in the media. It has been extraordinary,” she said.