Desmond inquiry judge says Veterans Affairs did not share key information

Shanna and Lionel Desmond hold their daughter Aaliyah in a photo from the Facebook page of Shanna Desmond. (HO-Facebook/The Canadian Press)

The judge overseeing an inquiry into a triple-murder and suicide carried out by an Afghanistan war veteran says Lionel Desmond faced a large gap in treatment for a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Provincial court Judge Warren Zimmer also told the inquiry that Veterans Affairs Canada did not share key information about Desmond's mental illnesses with the last health professional to talk to the former sniper before he killed his family and himself inside their rural Nova Scotia home in January 2017.

Zimmer said the fatality inquiry has heard evidence that after Desmond was discharged from a residential treatment facility in Quebec in August 2016, he received no actual therapeutic treatment before the killings four months later.

The inquiry has heard that Desmond sought help through a Nova Scotia hospital's emergency room on two occasions before he managed to meet in November 2016 with a community-based psychotherapist in Antigonish, N.S., contracted by Veterans Affairs.

Catherine Chambers, a therapist who specializes in treating PTSD, told the inquiry she had been in touch with Desmond's case manager at Veterans Affairs, but never received any medical documents from the department.

Zimmer read from Veterans Affairs reports indicating Desmond had not responded well to the treatment at the Quebec facility, and that the former infantryman could be suffering from cognitive impairments that required a sophisticated neuropsychological assessment.