Inquiry into deaths of former soldier and his Nova Scotia family set to begin again

GUYSBOROUGH, N.S.—A high-profile inquiry is set to begin today in rural Nova Scotia, not far from where Lionel Desmond, an Afghan war veteran with PTSD, fatally shot his mother, wife and daughter before turning the gun on himself.

The fatality inquiry was supposed to begin last November, but the hearings in Guysborough, N.S., were adjourned when the parents of Desmond’s wife Shanna confirmed they had replaced their lawyer only the week before.

Desmond, a 33-year-old retired corporal, was diagnosed with PTSD after two violent tours as an infantryman in Afghanistan in 2007.

On Jan. 3, 2017, he bought a rifle and later shot his 31-year-old wife, their 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah, and his mother Brenda, 52, before killing himself in their modest home in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S.

In the months and years that followed, friends and relatives openly complained that Desmond’s attempts to seek help for his mental illness led him nowhere.

The inquiry will examine whether Desmond had access to mental health and domestic violence services — and whether he should have been able to buy a rifle. It will also investigate whether the health care and social services providers he dealt with were trained to recognize occupational stress injuries or domestic violence.

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