Ex-soldier who killed his family in N.S. knew what he did was morally wrong: doctor

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PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — An inquiry into a triple murder committed by a former soldier in Nova Scotia heard today from a psychiatrist who said Lionel Desmond understood what he was doing was wrong when he killed three family members and himself in 2017.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Scott Theriault testified that the former infantryman understood his actions were morally and legally wrong even though he was suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, a borderline personality disorder and borderline delusions about his wife.

Theriault's testimony is important because the inquiry has heard from another psychiatrist who confirmed Desmond had suffered from dissociative episodes that left him believing he was reliving the traumatic, violent events he experienced while serving in Afghanistan in 2007.

Some of Desmond's relatives have also said that after he was medically released from the military in 2015 and returned home to Nova Scotia, he suffered flashbacks and sometimes appeared to be in "combat mode."

Theriault, however, said that even if Desmond was suffering from full-blown delusions, that wouldn't have been enough to absolve him of criminal responsibility.

The forensic psychiatrist also said that the tragic events that unfolded in rural Nova Scotia on Jan. 3, 2017, could have been prevented if Desmond's mental health treatment had not been interrupted during the four months before the killings.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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