PORT HAWKESBURY: The fatality inquiry looking into why retired Cpl. Lionel Desmond killed his mother, wife and 10-year-old daughter before taking his own life has resumed.
It returns after an 11-month adjournment following the first round of witness testimony, which wrapped up in March 2020 just before COVID-19 delayed the second round of testimony.
According to lawyers, the inquiry is set to hear from medical providers from the operational stress injury clinic in New Brunswick and from the St. Anne’s residential care facility in Quebec where Desmond was treated.
In November, after weeks of uncertainty and speculation between lawyers and the Department of Justice on the reason behind additional delays, the new Feb. 16 date was officially selected to resume the Desmond Fatality Inquiry.
Lawyers were told when the hearings were to resume in February, they would be doing so with a venue change from Guysborough to the courthouse in Port Hawkesbury to abide by COVID-19 physical distancing guidelines.
The second session of evidentiary hearings was anticipated to restart in late May but due to the pandemic, Judge Warren Zimmer opted to wait until he was confident the proceedings could continue safely and in compliance with public health directives.
According to a media release from the Department of Justice, anyone non-essential to the proceedings must get advance permission from Judge Zimmer to attend in person.
The second session of witness testimony is set to last four weeks and will involve sessions from Tuesday to Friday.
It’s already passed the four-year anniversary for the triple murder-suicide in Upper Big Tracadie, which prompted the Desmond Fatality Inquiry.
The inquiry’s mandate is to determine the circumstances under which these deaths occurred, as well as some specific issues, including but not limited to whether Desmond and his family had access to the appropriate mental health and domestic violence intervention services leading up to their deaths.
At the conclusion of the inquiry, Judge Zimmer will prepare a written report containing his findings and recommendations. His report will not contain findings of legal responsibility.