Shanna Desmond's father, Ricky Borden (second from left) and the victim's brother, Sheldon Borden (second from right) listen to testimony from a family friend at the unveiling of the report into the deaths caused by Lionel Desmond on January 31, 2024 in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia. Sheldon Borden, Shanna Desmond, Lionel Desmond, Aaliyah Desmond, Brenda Desmond, Ricky Borden
This information must easily cross federal and provincial borders, writes Judge Scovil. Individuals, professionals and others should carefully consider the need to air concerns about individuals and work with those whose consent is necessary to ensure the flow of information.
During 53 days of hearings, the inquest heard that the former army infantryman had been diagnosed with post-stress disorder severe trauma and major depression in 2011, after witnessing intense combat in Afghanistan in 2007.
Although he received four years of treatment while in the army, the investigation revealed that his Mental health was still poor and his marriage was in trouble when he was medically released from the Armed Forces in 2015. He then entered a residential treatment program in Montreal in 2016.
More importantly, the investigation revealed that the 33-year-old former corporal received no treatment in the four months following his return home to Upper Big Tracadie, Nova Scotia, in August 2016.
It strikes me that after Corporal Desmond was transferred to Nova Scotia, it took several months to escalate the care he desperately needed, even though time was of the essence.
A quote from Paul Scovil, judge of the commission of inquiry
A few months later, on January 3, 2017, he legally purchased a rifle semi-automatic gun and used it that same day to shoot his 31-year-old wife, Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and his 52-year-old mother, Brenda, before turning the gun on himself .
Justice Scovil's report reveals that key information about Lionel Desmond's mental health was not shared with provincial firearms controllers and provincial health authorities.
The inquest heard his firearms license was suspended in December 2015, when he was arrested in New Brunswick under the province's Mental Health Act. At the time, his wife told police he had threatened suicide. However, the license was reinstated in May 2016, after a New Brunswick doctor signed a medical assessment form declaring his patient non-suicidal and stable.
Lionel Desmond's wife, Shanna Desmond, 31, and their daughter Aaliyah, 10, are among the victims.
At the time, Lionel Desmond was being monitored at a Fredericton clinic, where staff determined his mental state had become unstable as he was plagued by intrusive memories of violent combat in Afghanistan. However, none of this information was shared with provincial firearms officials because the clinic was not required to do so.
As a result, the investigation report recommends that Nova Scotia's chief firearms officer work with other provinces to ensure they can share notifications if the police have concerns.
The report also recommends that the Nova Scotia government encourage the federal government to ensure that all new veterans are assigned a manager cases during their transition to civilian life.
The inquiry heard that the Department of Veterans Affairs had appointed a case manager for Lionel Desmond's transition, but it took six months for that process to be completed. Additionally, this manager struggled with delays and bureaucratic issues as she struggled to find the right help for her client during the last four months of his life.
< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">On another front, the investigation focused on issues of domestic violence, with many witnesses making it clear that this marriage was in trouble even before Lionel Desmond left the army.
During the public hearing, Dr. Peter Jaffe, a psychologist at Western University in London, Ontario, testified that Lionel Desmond had 20 factors of risk associated with domestic homicide, out of 41 factors developed by the Ontario Domestic Violence Death Review Committee.
The funeral of Lionel Desmond and his mother Brenda Desmond was celebrated in Tracadie, New Scotland, January 11, 2017.
The inquest also heard that three hours before the murders, Shanna Desmond had requested information from a women's refuge about how to obtain court an undertaking not to disturb the public order.
The inquiry report includes several recommendations on domestic violence, including calls for a public information campaign and updated risk assessments for frontline professionals.
L' The investigation has no authority to find fault in matters of criminal or civil liability, and its recommendations are not binding.
No one should not be singled out, emphasizes Judge Scovil. The problem is systemic, up to and including the events of January 3, 2017.