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News - Afghanistan - 28 Jun 2017

News Item 7 of 652 

Afghanistan: 28 Jun 2017
N.S. veteran who killed family wasn't turned away by hospital, relative now says

ANTIGONISH, N.S. -- A former Canadian soldier was not turned away from a Nova Scotia hospital in the days before he killed three members of his family and himself, relatives said Wednesday after meeting with health officials and the province's medical examiner.

Lionel Desmond, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who suffered from PTSD, had told family members he was turned away from a hospital's mental health unit before the killings.

But speaking to media after a three-hour meeting with health officials at St. Martha's Regional Hospital in Antigonish, N.S., on Wednesday, Desmond's cousin Albert MacLellan said he was not turned away.

"That was misinformation. I don't know if it was part of his state of mind that made him tell some family members that or not," said MacLellan, who is also a veteran.

"Having PTSD myself, delusion, things like that, are side effects. That could have been a side effect he felt, but no one can say what was going through his mind at the time."

Desmond's family renewed calls Wednesday for a fatality inquiry into the January deaths, when Desmond took his own life after shooting his 52-year-old mother Brenda, his 31-year-old wife Shanna, and their 10-year-daughter Aaliyah.

Family members heard the findings and recommendations of a review of how the province's health-care system dealt with his case.

MacLellan would not reveal the contents of the confidential review, but said he feels Nova Scotia's health authority dealt with his case "to the best of their ability."

"Based on the information that we received and saw in black and white today, I'm quite comfortable in saying the health authority here at St. Martha's and the mental health workers within their walls did the best they could with the information they had at the time," said MacLellan.

Colin Stevenson, the health authority's vice-president of quality, system performance and transformation, said the findings and recommendations of the review cannot be released publicly under legislation that protects the personal information of patients.

"We cannot disclose any recommendations which could be identifiable in the sense of an individual or a facility," said Stevenson.

But he said the Desmond family can follow up with the authority for updates on how the recommendations are being implemented.

Following the meeting at the hospital, Desmond's family members dashed to a nearby hotel restaurant to meet with medical examiner Dr. Matt Bowes.

After that meeting, Desmond's sister Cassandra Desmond confirmed they have asked Bowes for a broader fatality inquiry.

"He has some homework to do ... We weren't given a timeline, we just know that it's going to take some time because it's quite a bit of information to go through," said Cassandra Desmond.

"(A fatality review) is still what we're aiming for and still what we're going for because it's only right and it's only fair."

Sarah Gillis, a spokesperson for Bowes, said only the meeting with the family "went well" and the medical examiner is continuing to review the case.

Premier Stephen McNeil has said any steps to investigate the deaths further wouldn't be taken until family members and the medical examiner were briefed on the internal review.

Justice Minister Mark Furey has said that while he does have the authority to call a fatality inquiry, the province's medical examiner would be in a "better position" to make such a call.

Public inquiries are rare in Nova Scotia. The most recent judicial fatality inquiry wrapped up in late 2010 when provincial court Judge Anne Derrick presented a 460-page report on the jail cell death of Howard Hyde, a mentally ill man who died after jail guards restrained him on the floor during a psychotic episode.

Aly Thomson, The Canadian Press /CTV News/Google/AA

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