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Desmond murder-suicide inquiry adjourned until January

Cassandra Desmond, flanked by sisters Diane, left, and Katlin speaks to reporters outside the Desmond Inquiry in Guysborough.
Cassandra Desmond, flanked by sisters Diane, left, and Katlin speaks to reporters outside the Desmond Inquiry in Guysborough. - Aaron Beswick
GUYSBOROUGH, N.S. —

Answers into what led to that horrible night in Upper Big Tracadie three years ago that ended with three female family members dead at the hands of Afghan war veteran Lionel Desmond will have to wait.

Again.

The first day of the Desmond Inquiry began Monday with a request for adjournment  from the new lawyer representing the Borden family.

“We understand this request is frustrating, inconvenient and could be seen as last minute,” Thomas Macdonald, who became the Borden family’s lawyer last Friday at 3 p.m., told the inquiry’s first day.

Macdonald takes over representation of the parents and brother of Shanna Desmond (Lionel’s wife) and co-representation of Aaliyah (Lionel’s 10-year-old daughter) who both were gunned down by Lionel along with his own mother, Brenda Desmond, on Jan. 3, 2017.

Lionel Desmond, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from his time on the front lines in Afghanistan, then took his own life.

The inquiry is meant to uncover how the institutions that sent Lionel Desmond off to war failed both him and his family after his return.

The Borden family dropped the attorney who had been representing them in late October and began searching for a new lawyer. The court only learned of the new lawyer and his plan to seek an adjournment Friday afternoon.

Over 120,000 pages of documents have been filed by various federal and provincial agencies for review by the inquiry that will be conducted by 14 lawyers, representing the families and varied institutions, under the supervision of provincial court Judge Warren Zimmer.

The inquiry does not seek to find legal responsibility for the tragedy.

The only lawyer who opposed the motion to adjourn on Monday was there representing Lionel Desmond’s side of the family.

“This is not an issue of a decision that would favor generally the Desmond family or the Borden family, that’s not in the equation,” said Zimmer in announcing his decision to adjourn.

“Would (adjournment) result in a measure of disappointment to the Desmond family?  Perhaps. But it is not likely to result in any unfairness… would it result in an actual or perceived unfairness to the Borden family under the circumstances, I would say likely, because they would be here not prepared, not engaged in the way they would like to be.”

After hearing the decision, Lionel Desmond’s sisters Cassandra, Diane and Katlin confirmed their disappointment.

“This story is not only my brother’s story,” said Cassandra Desmond.

“It’s the story of a lot of veterans wondering how they’re going to get out of their darkness. I work with and speak with a lot of these veterans who are sitting in really shallow basements by themselves and don’t know where to turn … it really sucks that they put another adjournment because this story needs to be told.”

The first session of the inquiry will now begin on Jan. 27 in the Guysborough Municipal Building.

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