Desmond inquiry to be held in Guysborough

By Helen Murphy    

GUYSBOROUGH – Staff from the Nova Scotia Judiciary were in Guysborough on May 29 as part of preparations to hold the fatality inquiry into the deaths of Lionel Desmond and his family here, close to the community where the tragedy occurred in Upper Big Tracadie on Jan. 3, 2017.

The department recently announced that the proceedings will take place in the Guysborough Municipal Building at 33 Pleasant St. The building was previously used as a satellite courthouse, making it easy to adapt for legal proceedings.

Considering travel and the wide public interest in this matter, the inquiry proceedings may be livestreamed online, pending on the approval of the not-yet-appointed presiding judge.

The RCMP investigation following the tragic shooting determined that Afghanistan war veteran Lionel Desmond shot and killed his wife, Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and his mother, Brenda, before taking his own life.

Dr. Matt Bowes, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Examiner, reviewed the case and recommended an inquiry under Sec. 26 of Nova Scotia’s Fatality Investigations Act. Nova Scotia’s Minister of Justice agreed and drafted terms of reference outlining the scope for the inquiry.

Those terms of reference say the inquiry will — among other things — look into the circumstances of Lionel Desmond’s release from St. Martha’s Hospital on Jan. 2, 2017 — the day before the shootings. It will also consider whether he had access to appropriate mental health services, including treatment for Occupational Stress Injuries, and whether he and his family had access to appropriate domestic violence intervention services.

And the inquiry will look at whether Lionel Desmond should have been able to retain, or obtain a licence enabling him to obtain or purchase a firearm — given Nova Scotia administration of the Canada Firearms Program.

The next step in the inquiry process will be the announcement of a Provincial Court judge and designated Crown counsel to conduct the inquiry. That announcement is expected in the coming weeks.