Judge overseeing Lionel Desmond inquiry says final report will come out next year

Shanna and Lionel Desmond hold their daughter, Aaliyah, in an old photo from the Facebook page of Shanna Desmond. The Afghanistan war veteran killed himself, his wife and daughter, and his mother early in 2017. (Facebook/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Shanna and Lionel Desmond hold their daughter, Aaliyah, in an old photo from the Facebook page of Shanna Desmond. The Afghanistan war veteran killed himself, his wife and daughter, and his mother early in 2017. (Facebook/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The judge overseeing the inquiry looking into the circumstances surrounding a Nova Scotia war veteran who killed himself and three family members in 2017 says his final report will come out next year, not by the end of this year, as recently stated by the provincial Justice Department.

Closing submissions for the Lionel Desmond fatality inquiry took place in April. Fifty-six days of hearings were held, generating 10,447 pages of transcripts. The inquiry heard from 70 witnesses and reviewed 58,699 documents.

"I appreciate that this has been a lengthy and emotional process for everyone involved, especially the families who lost loved ones," Judge Warren Zimmer said in a statement issued Thursday.

"They are waiting on an outcome. However, the volume of information that needs to be considered, analyzed and incorporated into the final report is challenging and substantial in all its details."

Once complete, Zimmer's report will be filed with the provincial court and will be made public on the Desmond inquiry website.

Pandemic delayed inquiry timelines

A September news release from the province said the inquiry was extended from Sept. 30 until Dec. 31. It said Zimmer's final report was expected to be finished before the end of the year.

The province noted the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the inquiry's initial timelines.

Desmond served in Afghanistan as a rifleman during a particularly violent tour of duty in 2007 and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression in 2011.

On Jan. 3, 2017, Desmond legally purchased a semi-automatic rifle and used it later that day to kill his 31-year-old wife, Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and his 52-year-old mother, Brenda, in Upper Tracadie, N.S.

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