Judge will probe death of Afghan vet­eran and fam­ily

Sol­dier shot him­self, his mother, wife and 10-year-old daugh­ter

The Niagara Falls Review - - Canada & World -

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.

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