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The Oland Murder

Updated: Nov 23

(available for free (with ads) on the CBC website: https://gem.cbc.ca/media/the-oland-murder/s01 )

Warning: Graphic crime scene photos

FTC Rating: 3.5 out of 5


In 2011, Richard Oland, multimillionaire and former Vice-President of Moosehead Brewery was found brutally murdered in his office. After a highly publicized trial, his son Dennis Oland was found guilty of second-degree murder but served only ten months in prison before his appeal was granted. This docuseries follows Dennis Oland’s retrial preparations, bench trial, and his acquittal on July 19, 2019. Despite this, questions of guilt, police mismanagement of the case, and the influence of wealth in the Canadian Justice system remain subjects of heated debate in the small New Brunswick community of St. John.


Strengths:

- Dennis Oland is a willing and active participant in the docuseries

- Multiple interviews with the Oland family and friends

- Filmmakers gained access to reporters, law enforcement, and defence attorneys, all featured throughout this four-part docuseries.

- A detailed presentation of the Defence’s strategy coming into the second trial

- Beautiful aerial and street views of St. John, giving viewers a good sense of the location of the crime and the community


Weaknesses:

- Questions regarding impartiality (see below)

- Crown Prosecutor notably absent from the docuseries although arguments made during trial are featured

- Experts interviewed refute or cast doubt on the evidence against Dennis Oland but it is unknown/unclear if these individuals are experts for the defence

- the animated re-enactments are distracting


Final Thoughts:

- The Oland Murder is now the subject of a controversy of its own. The credits note that the docuseries is co-produced by Caitlin Gold Teitelbaum, daughter of Dennis Oland’s lead defence attorney, Alan Gold. Although head producer Deborah Wainwright maintains the credit was included as a courtesy and thanks for Gold Teitelbaum providing access to her father’s client and his family, it does raise questions regarding impartiality and the CBC’s journalistic responsibility when commissioning documentaries. Arguably, “a special thanks” credit would have been more appropriate if there truly was not a conflict of interest or the CBS should include a disclaimer on their website regarding this connection. As a federal Crown corporation and public broadcaster, the CBC has a greater responsibility than Netflix or Prime to be transparent when offering streaming services. Full story and source can be found here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/nb-dennis-oland-alan-gold-oland-murder-1.5488634

- I wonder if this docuseries is an attempt by the Oland family to convince their small community of Dennis’ innocence. The evidence as presented does appear to be largely circumstantial and John’s Ainsworth testimony is suspect. However, if Dennis Oland is indeed a murder, imagine the chutzpah it takes to participate in such an endeavour knowing full well you killed your father…


Picture source: https://moosehead.ca/



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