Desmond inquiry: Doctors expected to testify as inquiry enters second week

GUYSBOROUGH, N.S. — An inquiry investigating why a mentally ill Afghanistan war veteran fatally shot three members of this family before killing himself enters its second week of hearings today.

Lionel Desmond, a 33-year-old former infantryman from rural Nova Scotia, killed his mother, wife and 10-year-old daughter before turning a military-style rifle on himself in January 2017.

Desmond, a retired corporal, had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after two particularly violent tours in Afghanistan in 2007.

The inquiry in Guysborough, N.S., is expected to hear today from two doctors who spoke with Desmond only days before the killings in nearby Upper Big Tracadie.

Last week, lawyer Stewart Hayne said Desmond first met with Dr. Justin Clark, who noted Desmond was not in distress and did not have any suicidal or homicidal thoughts when he showed up at St. Martha's Regional Hospital in Antigonish, N.S.

As well, Hayne said a psychiatrist, Dr. Faisal Rahman, will tell the inquiry Desmond was "pleasant, forthcoming engaging, respectful and a proud father" when he talked to the former soldier at the hospital on Jan. 1, 2017 and again the next day.

The lawyer said Rahman will tell the inquiry that Desmond confirmed he had an altercation with his wife earlier in the evening, and he asked Rahman if he could spend the night in the hospital to "reflect and regroup."

The recollections of the doctors are important because some of Desmond's friends and relatives had complained he was turned away from the hospital before the killings — an allegation the hospital has denied.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2020.

The Canadian Press