Thursday 23 October 2014

Traumatised Oscar Pistorius is 'at risk of suicide'

Lizzie Deardon

Published 02/07/2014 | 10:53

South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his trial in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, July 2, 2014. Pistorius is on trial for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his suburban Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year. REUTERS/Gianluigi Guercia/Pool (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT CRIME LAW ATHLETICS)
South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his trial in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria

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, Sky reported.

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.

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.

Independent News Service

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