PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. –
Seven years after a former Canadian soldier fatally shot three family members and himself in rural Nova Scotia, a provincial inquiry is scheduled to release today a final report explaining what happened and how to prevent a similar tragedy.
The much-delayed fatality inquiry investigated why Afghanistan war veteran Lionel Desmond killed his mother, wife and 10-year-old daughter before taking his own life with a semi-automatic rifle on Jan. 3, 2017.
During 53 days of hearings, the inquiry learned the former infantryman was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression in 2011 after he saw intense combat in Afghanistan in 2007.
Though he received four years of treatment while he was still in the military, the inquiry heard that his mental health was still poor and his marriage was in trouble when he was medically released from the Armed Forces in 2015 and took part in a residential treatment program in Montreal in 2016.
More importantly, the inquiry was told the 33-year-old former corporal did not receive any therapeutic treatment during the four months after he returned home to Upper Big Tracadie, N.S., in August 2016.
The inquiry was asked to determine if Desmond had access to appropriate mental-health care, and whether his family had adequate access to domestic violence intervention services.
As well, the inquiry investigated Desmond’s access to firearms and how health-care professionals and police officers assessed the risk of intimate partner violence.
The inquiry can’t find fault in terms of criminal or civil liability, and its recommendations are not binding.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2024.