POLITICS

More info in Richard Oland homicide investigation will be released next week

09/28/2012 04:30 EDT | Updated 11/27/2012 05:12 EST
SAINT JOHN, N.B. - New Brunswick's chief provincial court judge ruled Friday that more information included in search warrants executed in the Richard Oland homicide investigation will be made public next week.

In his written decision, Judge R. Leslie Jackson said the Saint John police have not proven that the release of the information would compromise their investigation into the death of the prominent businessman.

"I have concluded that the police have not demonstrated a serious and specific risk to the investigative integrity of the Oland homicide investigation; indeed their position is based on vague and general assertions of risk," Jackson said in the 20-page decision.

"There has been no legal basis established for most of the redacting sought to be retained, such as the names and statements of persons who are neither suspects, persons of interest or subjects of search warrants."

However, Jackson said details specific to the crime scene would remain sealed.

"Information relating to the physical position and condition of the deceased's body when found, as well as the condition of the deceased's office and the location of any of the deceased's personal effects upon discovery of the body, shall be dedacted on the basis of it being hallmark evidence," he said, adding that is information that only the killer or killers would know.

He said the information will be released next Friday.

In August, Jackson ordered the release of seven heavily redacted search warrants along with related documents. They show that police believe Oland, 69, was murdered.

The also show that police seized 57 items from a home in the Saint John suburb of Rothesay that property records say is owned by Dennis Oland, Richard's son. Those items include legal papers, bank statements, garbage bags, bedding, clothing, a purple purse and a "note in a purse."

The records also reveal that police searched a 7.6-metre yacht named Loki, which was docked at the Royal Kennebecasis Yacht Club in Saint John. The name of the boat's owner is blacked out, but the record says "genealogy papers/books/documents" were sought.

The Crown kept DNA swabs that were taken of ignition keys, cabin doors, gas cans, scrub brushes, sinks, a red stain on the sink and other parts of the boat, the documents say.

The CBC and New Brunswick Telegraph Journal have sought to have all the documents unsealed. Their lawyer, David Coles, said the new information should shed more light on the state of investigation.

"It represents the right finding that people who gave statements, and I understand there are upwards of 60 of them which were the justification for obtaining search warrants, aren't shielded," Coles said in an interview from his Halifax office.

Coles said it doesn't make sense to continue blocking the names of the subjects of the search warrants.

"The press has already observed search warrants being executed at certain places and made publication in relation to those places."

Jackson did rule, however, that two warrants will remain completely sealed "because nothing was found as a result of either the seizure or the forensic analysis."

Crown prosecutor John Henheffer declined comment.

Oland's body was found in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011.

He was a member of the family that owns Moosehead Breweries Ltd., but left the company in 1981. He also worked in the trucking business, at the Saint John Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., and as a director of several firms, including Eastern Provincial Airways, Newfoundland Capital Corp., and Ganong Bros.