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Oland murder case highlights having enough money can be key to successful defence

Dennis Oland and family members head from the Law Courts in Saint John, N.B., after he was found not guilty of murdering his father on Friday, July 19, 2019. Justice Terrence Morrison of the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench found Oland not guilty of second degree murder. Richard Oland was beaten to death on July 6, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

FREDERICTON — Legal experts say Dennis Oland didn’t get any special treatment before the courts in his murder re-trial, but the case shows how having money can make a difference in mounting a successful defence.

Last week, a judge found Oland not guilty of the bloody 2011 murder of his wealthy father in Saint John — the culmination of six years of legal wrangling.

Nicole O’Byrne, a law professor at the University of New Brunswick, says Oland had the resources to pay a defence team to follow up on every aspect of the case by hiring experts and by taking aspects of the case to the Supreme Court of Canada for determination.

She says all citizens enjoy the same constitutional rights such as the right to be presumed innocent, but not all citizens have equal access to resources that may be needed to mount a successful defence.

Kirk Makin, co-president of Innocence Canada, says many of the people wrongfully convicted of crimes and later exonerated, are people of poor means who can’t afford the best defence.

He says government needs to do more to level the playing field so everyone is properly defended before the courts.

The Canadian Press