Oscar Pistorius trial: Athlete arrives at psychiatric hospital for month-long mental evaluation

Athlete will undergo a 30-day psychiatric evaluation to determine whether his state of mind contributed to the fatal shooting of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius has arrived at Weskoppies psychiatric hospital where he is expected to undergo a 30-day mental health evaluation.

The athlete was driven into Weskoppies psychiatric hospital in Pretoria in a black Chevrolet shortly before 9am this morning. He was speaking on his mobile phone and was escorted by a police van as he entered the hospital.

Pistorius was ordered to undergo a 30-day psychiatric evaluation last week to determine whether his state of mind played a part in the shooting of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp after an expert defence witness claimed he suffers from a generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), which makes him hyper-vigilant.

Pistorius will be examined by a panel of three psychiatrists and one clinical psychologist, who will monitor his behaviour and present a report to the court next month. The athlete is expected to attend Weskoppies from 9am until 4 pm as an outpatient, or until he is excused by medical staff.

 

Earlier this month, Dr Merryl Vorster, an expert witness for the defence, claimed Pistorius suffers from an anxiety disorder and his "reactions to situations would be different" to those an able-bodied person without GAD under stress.

Her testimony raised the possibility that Pistorius could claim diminished criminal responsibility for shooting. Reacting to her report, chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel accused the athlete of changing his defence- from self-defence, to automatism and now a mental disorder- and also questioned the timing of her testimony, suggesting her diagnosis was a "fall-back" for the defence because Pistorius was an "unimpressive" witness.

If convicted of murder, which the athlete denies, Pistorius faces a mandatory life sentence which usually carries a minimum of 25 years in jail, though mitigation could reduce it in this case. If found guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide, he could face 15 years or a non-custodial sentence.

The court will resume on 30 June to hear the results of the evaluation.