Deputy police chief's arbitration hearing in Dennis Oland case delayed a year

Deputy police chief's arbitration hearing in Dennis Oland case delayed a year

Deputy Saint John police chief Glen McCloskey's arbitration hearing in relation to alleged misconduct in the Dennis Oland murder case has been bumped back by more than a year.

McCloskey was scheduled to appear before an arbitrator appointed by the New Brunswick Police Commission on Friday, but his lawyer requested the Police Act matter be set over until after Oland's retrial in the 2011 bludgeoning death of his father, multimillionaire Richard Oland.

Oland's lawyers "noted" the adjournment in the McCloskey arbitration "with a great deal of interest," said family lawyer Bill Teed.

But he said they are "not in a position to make any comment on it at this time."

The adjournment in the McCloskey hearing came after a conversation between a police commission representative and the deputy attorney general's office, said Steve Roberge, executive director of the commission.

The commission concluded it is "now in the best interest of justice to agree with Deputy Chief McCloskey's request to adjourn the arbitration hearing to a date after the evidence in the second Oland murder trial has been completed," Roberge said in an email to CBC News.

A date for Oland's new trial has not yet been set but is expected to be held in 2018.

McCloskey's arbitration hearing has been rescheduled to Oct. 2, 2018. The time and location are still to be determined. Ottawa-based Rob Lewis is the appointed arbitrator.

McCloskey, a nearly 29-year veteran of the force, could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.

He remains on duty, Chief John Bates said on Monday.

The New Brunswick Police Commission only has the authority to discipline active police officers.

Once an officer retires or leaves the force, the commission has no jurisdiction to investigate or impose sanctions, which can range from a verbal reprimand to dismissal.

Under the City of Saint John's pension plan, an employee with 29 years of service would be eligible to retire at age 56.

No details about McCloskey's alleged misconduct are listed on the commission's website. But Roberge previously confirmed the allegations against McCloskey "are related to the Oland investigation and proceedings."

Bates has previously described the accusations as "for lack of a better choice of words, sort of a witness tampering."

Asked to comment on Monday, Bates said the commission, "which has carriage of the matter, has determined that it is in the best interest of justice to have it adjourned and I can only conclude that they have done so following thoughtful deliberation."

"I can only conclude that they have done so following thoughtful deliberation," he said.

"Beyond that, I'm not in a position to comment or offer an opinion on this latest development as I do not know details which have led to its decision."

​Luc Labonté, the assistant deputy attorney general of public prosecution services, declined to comment, saying it would be inappropriate, given the Oland case is before the courts and "this involves a potential witness in that case."

Form of dispute resolution

An arbitration hearing is held "when an officer has allegedly breached the [Police Act Code of Conduct] and either did not present themselves to a settlement conference, or when an agreement on suitable disciplinary or corrective measures could not be reached within a reasonable period of time," the commission's website states.

"The standard of proof in an arbitration hearing is on a balance of probabilities. Saying something is proven on a balance of probabilities means that it is more likely than not to have occurred."

An arbitrator can dismiss a matter if he or she finds an officer is not guilty of a breach of the code.

The decision of an arbitrator is final and binding on all parties involved.

McCloskey was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in October 2016 after an eight-month investigation by the Halifax Regional Police.

The chief had asked the commission to investigate allegations against McCloskey in October 2015, following the testimony of retired staff sergeant Mike King at Oland's murder trial.

King testified McCloskey had encouraged him not to reveal that McCloskey had entered the bloody crime scene where Oland's father's body was discovered on July 7, 2011.

King also alleged McCloskey had a box of exhibits related to the Oland investigation in his office that he wanted him to deliver to the RCMP in Fredericton, which was not the "normal procedure."

McCloskey, who served as the acting chief for about six months in 2015, denied the allegations when he testified.

He told the court he entered the crime scene twice on the day in question — once to "observe the body" and then again out of "curiosity."

Scheduling of retrial delayed

A jury found Oland guilty in December 2015 and he served about 10 months of a life sentence before the New Brunswick Court of Appeal overturned his conviction in October 2016, citing an error in the trial judge's instructions to the jury.

The appeal court ordered a retrial and released Oland on bail the following day, pending his new trial.

A date for the new trial was expected to be scheduled on Sept. 5 but was postponed for a third time.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Terrence Morrison suggested a pre-trial conference should be held first to resolve some issues, such as how many voir dires on the admissibility of evidence will be required, whether there will be any pre-trial or Charter motions, and how many Crown witnesses will be called to testify.

The pre-trial conference is scheduled for Nov. 2 at 10 a.m.

Oland remains free on bail and living in the community under conditions to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, to notify police of any change of address or of any travel outside New Brunswick.