Provincial medical examiner to testify at Lionel Desmond fatality inquiry

The fatality inquiry into the death of an Afghanistan war veteran who killed his wife, mother, daughter and then himself is expected to hear about the family’s autopsies from a provincial medical examiner on Thursday.

Details about the days leading up to Lionel Desmond shooting his wife, Shanna, his daughter Aaliyah, 10, and his mother, Brenda, were revealed publicly Wednesday, with the lead investigator saying that a minor truck crash triggered the chain of events. 

Lionel Desmond returned home from New Year’s Eve crash and would not let anyone sleep, until his wife finally asked him to leave the house.

Three days later, dressed in camouflage, he came back with a hunting knife, a Remington Model 760 rifle and ammunition.

The inquiry into these events is underway in Guysborough, N.S., 30 kilometres from the home in Upper Big Tracadie where the four died on Jan. 3, 2017.

Lionel had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) soon after returning home from an eight-month tour in Afghanistan in 2007. He received treatment while in the Canadian Forces in Montreal and in New Brunswick, and sought help in Nova Scotia as a veteran. 

The CBC’s Laura Fraser is liveblogging from the inquiry today.

Unlike a provincial inquiry, which can lay fault or blame, the fatality inquiry will lead to recommendations about whether systemic changes could prevent future deaths. 

Judge Warren Zimmer will specifically be looking into whether:

  • Lionel had full access to mental health services.

  • He should have been able to obtain a firearms licence.

  • The health-care providers who treated him were trained to recognize PTSD or signs of domestic violence.

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