Oscar Pistorius trial: Traumatised athlete 'at risk of suicide' says mental health report read in court

The Olympian is not mentally ill but is 'severely traumatised' by shooting, it said

Lizzie Dearden@lizziedearden
Wednesday 02 July 2014 15:38
Oscar Pistorius at the Pretoria High Court, South Africa
Oscar Pistorius at the Pretoria High Court, South Africa

Oscar Pistorius is suffering from post-traumatic distress disorder after shooting his girlfriend dead and is at risk of committing suicide, his trial has heard.

The chief prosecutor in the case had previously said a panel of mental health experts concluded that the former Paralympian was not suffering from a mental illness at the time of the shooting last year.

His trial, in Pretoria, was put on hold for a month while a psychologist and three psychiatrists assessed whether the runner was capable of understanding the wrongfulness of the act.

Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp dead through a closed bathroom door in February 2013.

The findings of a psychiatric assessment concluded the 27-year-old athlete is not mentally ill but has been “severely traumatised” by the events on Valentine's Day and needs continued treatment to avoid the risk of suicide.

Video: Pistorius mental health report read in court

Barry Roux, his defence lawyer, claimed the relationship between Pistorius and Ms Steenkamp was a loving one and said his client has no history of mental instability or violence.

The state prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, alleges that Pistorius killed his girlfriend after an argument and has portrayed the Olympic athlete as a hothead with a love of guns and an inflated sense of entitlement.

He requested the independent inquiry into the defendant's state of mind, based on concerns the defence would argue Pistorius was not guilty because of diminished responsiblity.

Pistorius's manager, Peet van Zyl, was challenged by Mr Nel over his claim that Ms Steenkamp was the first girlfriend invited asked to accompany the gold medallist on trips abroad.

An email from Pistorius to Mr Van Zyl was read out by Mr Nel, where the athlete sent his manager a copy of ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor's passport.

Oscar Pistorius with his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Mr Van Zyl said he could not remember receiving such a message.

A letter from Pistorius to Ms Taylor asking her to go to the 2012 London Olympics with him was read out to the court by Mr Nel.

“I don't even feel like going to London if you cannot go with me,” it said. “It took me a long time to admit it to myself that I was in love with you Sam.”

Although Pistorius admits shooting Ms Steenkamp, he denies murdering her and says he shot through the door believing an intruder was on the other side.

If convicted of premeditated murder, he faces life in jail and could still be imprisoned if convicted of a lesser charge of murder without premeditation or negligent killing.

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