Judge will probe death of Afghan veteran and family
Soldier shot himself, his mother, wife and 10-year-old daughter
HALIFAX — A provincial court judge in Nova Scotia has been appointed to preside over the inquiry into the deaths of Afghanistan war veteran Lionel Desmond and his family.
The Nova Scotia judiciary said Thursday Warren K. Zimmer was appointed to the post by Judge Pamela Williams, chief judge of the provincial court.
The provincial government promised an inquiry last December, almost a year after Desmond fatally shot himself and his mother, wife and 10-year-old daughter in a rural home in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S.
The 33-year-old soldier had been diagnosed with PTSD after two harrowing tours in Afghanistan in 2007.
When the inquiry’s terms of reference were released in May, provincial Justice Minister Mark Furey said the Nova Scotia government hoped to learn the circumstances of the deaths and how they could be prevented in the future.
Among other things, the inquiry will examine whether Desmond had access to appropriate mental health services, and whether his family had access to domestic violence intervention services.
Zimmer will also consider whether health care and social services providers who interacted with Desmond were trained to recognize occupational stress injuries or domestic violence, and also whether Desmond should have been able to keep or obtain a licence enabling him to purchase a firearm.
In addition, the final report is to consider if there were any restrictions in the flow of Veteran Affairs or Defence Department records to provincial health personnel.
The rare probe will be the first in the province in over a decade.
Zimmer was called to the Nova Scotia bar in 1978.
He worked as a Crown prosecutor until 1983 when he entered private practice, specializing in criminal law.
He was appointed to the bench in 2011.
As well, the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service has appointed Allen Murray as the inquiry’s prosecutor.