PORT HAWKESBURY, NS – An investigation into why an ex-soldier killed three family members and himself in 2017 heard today from the psychiatrist who first diagnosed Lionel Desmond with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Dr. Vinod Joshi, who works part-time at Canadian Base Gagetown Force in New Brunswick, told the investigation that Desmond suffered from moderate to severe PTSD when he was assessed in 2011.
Joshi, a civilian contractor with the Canadian Armed Forces, says the bodyguard at the time had been the subject of traumatic events while serving as a gunman during the 2007 war in Afghanistan.
The psychiatrist told the investigation that Desmond had not received any mental health treatment after experiencing severe fighting during a seven-month placement.
Joshi also confirmed that Desmond was dealing with marital difficulties throughout his course of treatment, which ended when the infantry was released by the military in 2015.
On January 3, 2017, Desmond bought a rifle and later that day shot his 31-year-old wife, Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and his 52-year-old mother, Brenda, before killing himself at his home. them in Upper Big Tracadie, NS
In the months and years that followed, friends and relatives openly complained that after Desmond returned home to Nova Scotia in 2016, his efforts to seek help for his mental illness went nowhere.
The investigation is examining whether Desmond had access to mental health and domestic violence services and whether he should have been able to purchase a rifle in 2017.
It is also investigating whether the healthcare and social services providers he dealt with were trained to recognize the harms of work-related stress or domestic violence.
During the first phase of the provincial fatality investigation, which began last year, hearings focused on the involvement of police and provincial health and firearms officials.
Last week, the investigation heard from members of the Desmonds family and his close family wives.
The investigation shifted its focus today to the involvement of federal governments in the tragic issue.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on February 23, 2021.
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