A judge has ordered details of the estate of a Dieppe couple kept secret out of fear the information could result in harm to their family by "unsavoury members of the public."
Bernard Saulnier, 78, and Rose-Marie Saulnier, 74, were found dead in their home Sept. 7 last year. Police have described their deaths as homicides, but no information has been released about whether police have suspects or a possible motive.
Luc Sauliner, one of the couple's two sons and the executor of their estate, filed paperwork in Moncton's Court of Queen's Bench last month.
Justice Jean-Paul Ouellette wrote in a decision Thursday that Luc Sauliner wanted the court to bar public access to the estate files given the "absence of more information about the motive and identity of the murderer(s), the risk to the survivors cannot accurately be estimated."
The judge said Luc Sauliner, in a written affidavit in support of sealing the files, laid out other facts "that could be of concern and/or put at risk the security of the family."
A public court registry names Luc and Sylvio Sauliner, the couple's other son, as beneficiaries of the estates.
Ouellette had previously granted an interim sealing order in December and also issued a publication ban. The judge asked the sides to come to court Jan. 14 to discuss whether to continue the orders.
Luc Sauliner wasn't present, though his brother Sylvio Saulnier was and expressed confusion.
"I don't know what's going on here," he said, adding he had been served papers and had not retained a lawyer because he thought it was just a matter between family members.
Ouellette at one point described Sylvio Sauliner as a "defendant" in the estate issue, which appeared to startle him.
"You're just making me nervous when you said that," Sylvio Sauliner said.
The judge ordered media out of the courtroom to hear legal arguments from lawyers for Luc Sauliner about whether the sealing order should continue. Ouellette read his decision Thursday that continues the sealing order but lifted the publication ban.
"Considering who could benefit from the estate, the circumstances of the deceased, the ongoing criminal investigation, the absence of information about the motives and identities of the murder or murderers, publication of information could put both the beneficiaries and their family at significant risk of harm of their lives by unsavoury members of the public who could become aware of such inheritance," Ouellette said.
He said the publication ban would not continue, given any members of the public could have attended court and heard the details and then shared the information.
The judge noted that the court system operates on the principle that it must be open to the public and media, except in exceptional circumstances.
Sylvio Saulnier declined to comment as he left court Tuesday and Thursday. Lawyers for Luc Saulnier also declined to comment.
Sylvio Saulnier listed his parents' home as his mailing address on Service New Brunswick property records.
He owned a duplex on Dominion Street in Moncton that was raided by police Aug. 28 last year as part of an alleged drug-trafficking operation in the Moncton, Fredericton and Woodstock areas.
An RCMP spokesperson previously said it would be "inappropriate" to comment on any possible connections between the raids and the couple's deaths.
The couple were found dead Sept. 7 in their house at 374 Amirault St. in Dieppe.
An RCMP news release a few days later said police don't believe the killings were random, but they have released few details about the investigation.
RCMP news releases have also asked the public for information about a man spotted parking around noon on Sept. 3 in a black BMW on Alma Street in Moncton.
The driver of the car crossed the road and used a pay phone before returning to the car, police said.
Police also asked for information about a black, four-door sedan with tinted windows and black rims that may have been in the area of the Saulniers' home during the overnight hours of Sept. 6 and 7.
Police carried out a ground search around Jones Lake for potential evidence related to the case based on a tip.
Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh, a spokesperson for the RCMP in New Brunswick, said in an email Thursday the investigation of the double homicide is continuing.
"Investigators are working diligently to determine exactly what happened and who is responsible," Rogers-Marsh wrote.