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Lionel Desmond inquiry focuses on police initiatives around intimate partner violence

Click to play video: 'Lionel Desmond inquiry reveals cracks in Canadian veterans’ health care'
Lionel Desmond inquiry reveals cracks in Canadian veterans’ health care
Canadian veteran Lionel Desmond struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after serving in Afghanistan. In 2017, he killed his family and himself. As Ross Lord reports, the inquiry into Desmond's case has revealed critical gaps in the system meant to help those who served our country – Jun 27, 2021

The Nova Scotia inquiry investigating why a former soldier killed himself and his family in 2017 heard Monday from a government official about the standards police use to handle cases of intimate partner violence.

Sharon Flanagan, a senior adviser with the policing and public safety division of the provincial Justice Department, is responsible for providing training and auditing for the province’s 10 municipal police agencies.

Read more: Nova Scotia inquest into shooting tragedy facing complex challenges

She provided the inquiry with a detailed look at how she works with police agencies, including the RCMP, to ensure they are complying with best practices when it comes to investigating cases of domestic violence.

Flanagan said she routinely hears from police agencies looking for more training regarding mental health and intimate partner violence.

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The inquiry has heard that Lionel Desmond was diagnosed with severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in 2011, four years after he took part in a particularly violent tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2007.

As well, the inquiry has heard that he and his wife, Shanna, had a troubled relationship after he left the military in 2015. There was a long-standing pattern of conflict that included raised voices and calls to police, but no allegations of physical violence.

Click to play video: 'Inquiry learns about the mental decline of Lionel Desmond'
Inquiry learns about the mental decline of Lionel Desmond

Only hours before Desmond killed his wife, mother and 10-year-old daughter on Jan. 3, 2017, he placed a call to a therapist to say Shanna had asked him for a divorce. The inquiry also learned that around the same time, Shanna Desmond called a non-profit group that offers support to women facing intimate partner violence.

Nicole Mann, executive director of the Naomi Society in Antigonish, N.S., which provides support to people experiencing intimate partner violence, told the inquiry in February 2020 that Shanna Desmond had called to ask about how to obtain a peace bond, though she gave no indication she was at risk.

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The provincial fatality inquiry, which started hearings in January 2020, has had to deal with delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The inquiry has set aside another day of hearings on Tuesday.

Final submissions for participating lawyers are expected to be heard next month and a final report with recommendations is expected this fall.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2022.

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