Saturday 20 January 2018

Pistorius was heartbroken, social worker tells hearing

Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock at his murder trial yesterday. Photo: REUTERS/Gianluigi Guercia/Pool
Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock at his murder trial yesterday. Photo: REUTERS/Gianluigi Guercia/Pool

Aislinn Laing in Pretoria

Oscar Pistorius told a court-appointed social worker in the hours after he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead that he was "barely coping" and was anxious about "what her parents must be going through", a court heard.

Yvette van Schalkwyk said the athlete cried "80pc of the time" in their meetings.

The witness also told how he had vomited twice after being taken down to the cells following his first appearance in the magistrate's court.

Mrs van Schalkwyk was not originally on the defence witness list but came forward on Tuesday after she saw claims reported in the media that Pistorius may have taken "acting lessons", which might have influenced the nature of his frequent emotional breakdowns in court.

Mrs van Schalkwy said she was very "upset" by the claims that the 27-year-old athlete was not "sincere" in his grief.

"From the first second, I saw a man who was heartbroken about the loss, he cried, he was in mourning," she said. "He suffered emotionally. He loved her."

She was challenged by Gerrie Nel, the prosecutor, that Pistorius was grieving only for himself.

"Madam, you saw the accused after his arrest and he was crying, felt sorry for himself," the lawyer suggested.

"No, I didn't observe that," she replied. "He had suffered a loss."

"Did he say he killed her, that he shot her?" Mr Nel asked.

"No, not at first, he did later," she said.

Mr Nel suggested Mr Pistorius "never said he was sorry" for shooting the model (29), only that he was sorry "for the loss".

The state alleges he did so, on February 14 last year, after a row at his Pretoria home.

Pistorius has said he fired four times through a locked lavatory door because he believed an intruder was inside.

"Surely as a probation officer, the first thing you look for is someone saying they're sorry for what they've done?" Mr Nel asked the witness. "What I saw was a heartbroken man. I was there for emotional support. I didn't look for remorse," she replied.

"He said he missed Reeva so much. Those were his first words. He said he was barely coping."

"The same man that shot and killed her the day before, does that make sense?" Mr Nel asked. "He said he accidentally shot and killed her," she replied. Mr Nel pounced on her comment, telling the witness the accused told the court he had believed he was in danger from an intruder.

The case continues. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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