Systemic failures and racism: Hearings for Desmond inquiry conclude in Nova Scotia

·1 min read

PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — More than five years after Afghanistan war veteran Lionel Desmond killed three family members and himself in their rural Nova Scotia home, a provincial fatality inquiry concluded its public hearings today.

The inquiry heard from 69 witnesses during 55 days of hearings, which started in January 2020 but were delayed almost a year because of restrictions imposed as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold a few months later.

Desmond served as a rifleman in Afghanistan in 2007 and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2011.

Despite four years of treatment while he was in the military, the inquiry heard he still required help when he was medically discharged in 2015 and later took part in an intensive residential treatment program in Montreal in 2016.

Lawyers representing family members told the inquiry today how Desmond faced racism and systemic failures as he tried to reintegrate with his family while dealing with complex PTSD, major depression and a possible brain injury.

The inquiry heard that 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.

The man leading the inquiry, provincial court Judge Warren Zimmer, is expected to submit a final report with findings and recommendations later this year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 20, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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