Lionel Desmond offered bed on psychiatric ward, fatality inquiry told

Shanna and Lionel Desmond hold their daughter Aaliyah in a photo from the Facebook page of Shanna Desmond.

A fatality inquiry in Nova Scotia has heard that the night a mentally ill former soldier sought help at a hospital in Antigonish, N.S., there were beds available in the psychiatric ward.

The inquiry is investigating why Lionel Desmond fatally shot his 31-year-old wife Shanna, his 52-year-old mother Brenda and 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah on Jan. 3, 2017, a day after he left the hospital.

Desmond, a former infantryman diagnosed with PTSD in 2011, killed his family members then shot himself in the head with the same military-style carbine he had legally purchased earlier in the day.

Shortly after the killings, one of Desmond's relatives alleged he was turned away from the hospital because the ward was full.

But Dr. Faisal Rahman, a psychiatrist who assessed Desmond on Jan. 1, 2017, told the inquiry that beds were available, and he offered one to Desmond after he complained of feeling distressed after having an argument earlier in the evening with his wife.

Rahman says Desmond did not want to spend the night in the psychiatric ward because his wife had recently started working there, so the doctor made arrangements for him to sleep in the emergency ward's observation room instead.