Desmond inquiry: former soldier sought counselling the same day he killed his family


Less than a month before Lionel Desmond killed his wife, mother, daughter and himself in 2017, the Afghanistan war veteran called a community group near his home in Nova Scotia to seek couples counselling.

Desmond's decision to get help on Dec. 9, 2016, was discussed today as part of an ongoing provincial fatality inquiry in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., which started hearings in January 2020.

One of the key mandates of the inquiry is to determine if Desmond and his family had access to mental health services and domestic violence prevention services.
Nancy MacDonald, executive director of the non-profit Family Service of Eastern Nova Scotia, told the inquiry that Desmond and his wife, Shanna, were scheduled for a counselling session on Jan. 16, 2017, but she confirmed Desmond called back on Jan. 3, 2017 to say he instead wanted individual counselling.

MacDonald, a registered therapist with 20 years experience, said the administrative assistant who spoke to Desmond that afternoon did not detect any distress in his voice or anything to suggest he or his family were at risk.

About six hours later, Desmond used a legally purchased semi-automatic rifle to fatally shoot his family and himself in their rural home in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S.