SAINT JOHN, N.B. — New Brunswick prosecutors say they will ask the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal a court ruling overturning Dennis Oland's murder conviction — while the defence says it may ask the top court for an outright acquittal.
Oland was convicted in 2015 of the second-degree murder of his multi-millionaire father, but that verdict was overturned by the New Brunswick Court of Appeal in October.
The appeal court ruled the trial judge erred in his instructions to the jury, and ordered a new trial in the bludgeoning death of prominent businessman Richard Oland, whose body was found in his Saint John office in July 2011.
Crown prosecutor Kathryn Gregory said Tuesday they will appeal that ruling. She also asked for the earliest available trial date, saying they could be prepared to go to trial as early as September of this year.
"The Crown is prepared to move along and ready ourselves for trial regardless of what's going on in the Supreme Court of Canada," Gregory told Judge William Grant.
But defence lawyer Gary Miller successfully argued it would be premature to set a re-trial date before knowing if the top court will grant an appeal or a possible cross-appeal from the defence. He said any cross-appeal would seek an acquittal.
"If leave is allowed to either party then we go to a full Supreme Court of Canada hearing," Miller said.
Lawyers are still waiting for the full, printed and translated decision of the Court of Appeal, which is to be released on Jan. 12.
The Crown will then have 10 days to review it before making their application for leave to the Supreme Court. At that point, the defence will have 60 days to prepare any application for a cross-appeal.
No matter what the Supreme Court decides, it will likely be August — at the earliest — before the New Brunswick court could even set a date for re-trial. Miller said if a new trial is held, it would be sometime in 2018 at the earliest.
Greg Marquis, a University of New Brunswick professor who has written a book on the Oland trial, said he was surprised the Crown is filing an appeal to the Supreme Court.
"My understanding is that the other side could then ... appeal on some of the grounds they were denied on in the Court of Appeal in Fredericton," he said.
Dennis Oland, a financial planner and the scion of one of the Maritimes’ most prominent families, sat quietly in the court with his family lawyer, Bill Teed, but showed no emotion. Unlike most of his previous court appearances, there were no family members or supporters in attendance.
Oland didn't comment as he left the court Tuesday, but Miller said his client is holding up well.
"He has dug in for 5 1/2 years, and he continues to show incredible strength," Miller said.
Miller said the defence is still dealing with evidence-disclosure issues — only getting some documents a few weeks ago.
"We still have not completed our review of the disclosure that will be necessary for any retrial," Miller told the court.
Richard Oland suffered 45 blunt and sharp-force blows to his head, neck and hands, although no murder weapon was ever found.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press