UK & World News

  • 2 July 2014, 21:12

Pistorius: Court Sees Glimpse Of Turmoil

Oscar Pistorius sat quietly in court as the extent of his mental instability was detailed by his lawyer.

Advocate Barry Roux, reading from a report compiled by an independent psychologist, rattled through the list of issues: PTSD, depression, anxiety and a risk of suicide.

We were told at the start of the trial that he was being treated for depression and had seen his frequent emotional breakdowns giving evidence, but this official report, ordered by the court, was a stark glimpse into his current, precarious mental state.

But still, the revelation will have little impact on the outcome of the trial.

The conditions all developed after he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, claiming to have mistaken her for an intruder.

What matters is that the 30-day mental evaluation of the athlete found he was not mentally ill at the time of the killing and can be held responsible for his actions.

The separate independent report from the three psychiatrists who examined the runner over a period of 30 days, alongside the psychologist, concluded exactly that.

Only the conclusions of the mental evaluation are allowed to be reported because the judge issued a ban on the full details being published for privacy reasons.

Neither the defence nor the prosecution have chosen to dispute the findings by calling witnesses, but the athlete's lawyers - while saying they do not accept everything in the report - have clearly scanned the document for anything that will help their case.

Mr Roux flagged up the psychologist's observations that the athlete showed no signs of aggression and was "conflict avoiding".

The prosecution has made much during the trial of Pistorius' temper and gun obsession as it tries to show the athlete murdered his girlfriend after an argument.

Less helpful to the defence is the conclusion that the runner was not suffering from "generalised anxiety disorder" at the time of the shooting.

They had claimed the condition had made him hyper alert to threats and influenced his actions when he opened fire through a closed toilet door.

Sky's legal expert for the trial, Llewelyn Curlewis, said that the mental evaluation may have little impact on the judge when she finally retires to consider her verdicts.

"She has to consider the facts of the case and the psychiatric reports do not reveal anything new about what happened that Valentine's Day night," MrCurlewis said.

But the assessment of Pistorius' mental health may play a bigger role in the trial at a later stage.

If he is convicted of an offence his state of mind could be brought forward in mitigation and if he sentenced to jail time, the provision of adequate ongoing psychiatric treatment will be required.

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