Dennis James Oland, et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen, et al.

(New Brunswick) (Criminal) (By Leave)


Criminal law - Procedure - Criminal law — Procedure — Trial judge’s charge to jury — Inferences of guilt — Accused’s father was bludgeoned to death in his office — Accused lied to police about wearing certain jacket, which was found to contain victim’s blood and DNA, when he attended father’s office that day — Accused convicted of second-degree murder — Court of Appeal ordered new trial because trial judge’s instructions on accused’s statement about jacket were erroneous — What rules apply to post-offence false statements? — How should appellate courts assess apparently credible and reliable exculpatory evidence under s. 686(1)(a)(i) of Criminal Code? — Do s. 487 search warrants implicitly authorize forensic/DNA testing? — What is nature and scope of “independent evidence” required to prove concoction — When does ambiguous after-the-fact conduct require “no probative value” instruction? — How should courts classify, and assess reliability of, computer generated evidence? — How should rule in Browne v. Dunn (1893) 6 R. 67 (H.L.), apply to cross-examination of accused?.


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Mr. Oland’s father was bludgeoned to death in his office. On the day of the killing, Mr. Oland attended his father’s office. Mr. Oland told the police that he was wearing a navy jacket that day. However, video evidence showed conclusively and he admitted at trial that he was wearing a brown jacket. Forensic testing subsequently confirmed the presence of the victim’s blood and DNA on that jacket. After 30 hours of deliberation, a jury unanimously concluded that Mr. Oland was the killer, and he was therefore convicted of second-degree murder. Mr. Oland sought to appeal his conviction on the basis that the jury’s verdict was unreasonable. Alternatively, he argued that the trial judge made erroneous evidential rulings, specifically in respect to call detail records, the evidence derived from the forensic testing of the jacket and his communications with his wife. Finally, Mr. Oland argued that the judge misdirected the jury, notably in connection with a post-offence statement that he made to the police about the jacket that he was wearing. A unanimous Court of Appeal dismissed Mr. Oland’s application for an acquittal pursuant to s. 686(1)(a)(i) of the Criminal Code. However, it quashed his conviction for second-degree murder and ordered a new trial, holding that the judge misdirected the jury on Mr. Oland’s statement about the jacket.