Desmond inquiry: Veterans Affairs manager says family violence training was needed

·2 min read

PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — The inquiry investigating why a former soldier in Nova Scotia killed his family and himself in 2017 is hearing from his case manager at Veterans Affairs, who testified today that she could have benefited from training in identifying family violence.

Marie-Paule Doucette told the fatality inquiry that Lionel Desmond made it clear that his marital relationship was strained, though he said dealing with it was not the Afghanistan war veteran's top priority.

Doucette says she did not suggest couples counselling to the former infantryman, and says he did not request it when she assessed him in November 2015.

On Tuesday, Doucette told the inquiry she was not sure there was much more she could have done to prevent the tragedy, but she made it clear she did not have enough information about Desmond's disintegrating marriage.

Doucette said that in her new job she is now in the habit of asking more direct questions about marital conflict.

Among other things, the inquiry is examining whether the the health-care providers Desmond interacted with were adequately trained to recognize the signs of intimate partner abuse.

The inquiry has heard that three hours before Shanna Desmond was killed by her husband, she sought information about how to get a peace bond from a non-profit group that offers support to women and children facing intimate partner violence.

Desmond, who served in Afghanistan in 2007, was diagnosed with PTSD in 2011 and medically released from the military in June or July of 2015.

On Jan. 3, 2017, Desmond bought a Soviet-era SKS 7.62 carbine, which he used later that night to kill his 31-year-old wife, their 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah and his 52-year-old mother Brenda inside the family's home in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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