Oscar Pistorius Trial: Prosecution considers referring Paralympian for 'mental evaluation'

Athlete could be referred for further psychiatric observation

The Oscar Pistorius murder trial took a dramatic turn today after the prosecution argued the athlete should be sent for further "mental observation" after a defence expert witness claimed he suffers from an "anxiety disorder".

In an unexpected twist, state prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court he would consider filing an application for the athlete to be referred for 30 days of psychiatric evaluation at a state mental hospital in South Africa.

His request followed the testimony of Dr Merryll Vorster, a witness for the defence, who argued the athlete's actions the night he shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp should be "seen in the context of his anxiety", which made him "hyper vigilant" and fearful for his own safety.

Judge Thokozile Masipa has not yet ruled on the request. The athlete's defence will oppose the application. If approved, Pistorius could spend up to 30 days in observation at a mental health institution.

"Suggesting Pistorius has a mental disorder at this stage of the trial is a rather strange, questionable move, " said William Booth, a Cape Town-based criminal lawyer. "Judge Masipa has been very objective throughout and she will probably accept Nel's request."

VIDEO: Prosecution says Pistorius had a difficult childhood

Taking the stand, Dr Vorster said Pistorius's anxiety combined with his physical disability may have caused him to act differently from an able-bodied person without generalised anxiety disorder the night of the shooting.

In cross examination, Mr Nel asked the psychiatrist if someone suffering from an anxiety disorder similar to the kind that she had diagnosed in Pistorius, and had access to guns at home, would be a danger to society.

Dr Vorster conceded the person would be a danger.

 

Earlier in her evidence, Dr Vorster told the court his double leg amputation as a baby and his complicated relationship with his parents turned him into a "distrusting and guarded" person who often kept his feelings to himself and felt "alone and isolated" despite his fame and status as South Africa's national hero.

She said Pistorius was "reared to view the world as threatening" from an early age based on interviews with the athlete, family members and friends and this made him "perceive his surroundings as being threatening when perhaps they're not". If exposed to a threatening situation, Pistorius is more likely to "fight" than "flight".

"Are you saying Mr Pistorius had diminished responsibility?," Nel asked.

Dr Vorster argued Pistorius understands the difference between right and wrong, but his "reaction to situations would be different" to those of an able-bodied person without generalised anxiety disorder. She also told the court the athlete feels guilty and is suffering from depression as a result of the shooting.

READ MORE: PISTORIUS HAS 'ANXIETY DISORDER'

Pistorius' defence team claims his feelings of "vulnerability" and fear of crime contributed to him shooting his girlfriend by mistake last year fearing she was an intruder hiding in a toilet cubicle at his Pretoria home in the Silver Woods gated estate.

The state argues the athlete shot and killed his girlfriend deliberately, knowing full well she was behind the toilet door, following a domestic dispute in the early hours of Valentine's Day 2013.

South Africa does not have trial by jury, meaning Judge Thokozile Masipa will decide Pistorius' fate with the help of two assessors.

The murder trial continues.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears