UK & World News

  • 30 June 2014, 18:49

Pistorius 'Not Mentally Ill' As Trial Resumes

Oscar Pistorius was not mentally ill when he shot dead his girlfriend at his home and is fit to stand trial, a psychiatric report has found.

However, the results of the month-long mental assessment may play a part in any future sentencing.

Pistorius' murder trial had been adjourned while an expert panel assessed whether an anxiety disorder could have played a part in his actions when he killed Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.

The judge ordered the evaluation after a psychiatrist giving evidence in the athlete's defence told the court he suffered from generalised anxiety disorder, and that this may have influenced his judgement.

The tests were requested by the chief prosecutor and opposed by Pistorius' lawyer.

Reading from the psychologists report, state prosecutor Gerrie Nel said: "Mr Pistorus did not suffer from a mental illness or defect that would have rendered him criminally not responsible for the offence charged.

"Mr Pistorius was capable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his act and of acting in accordance of an appreciation of the wrongfulness of his act."

Pistorius denies murder, claiming he mistook Ms Steenkamp for an intruder.

He faces a life sentence if found guilty.

With the resumption of the trial, the defence team called  Dr Gerald Versfeld, the orthopaedic surgeon who amputated both of Oscar Pistorius' legs when he was a baby.

The athlete was on his stumps when he killed Ms Steenkamp, and his defence team has argued he was more likely to try to confront an apparent threat, rather than runaway,  because of his limited ability to move without his artificial legs.

Dr Versfeld said Pistorius' disability made him "vulnerable in a dangerous situation".

The doctor told the court Pistorius might struggle on his stumps during a tense situation, and that he would have difficulty smashing the door of the toilet, where Ms Steenkamp was, with a cricket bat.

However, under cross-examination he was challenged by Mr Nel, who questioned his objectivity.

Mr Nel also raised the possibility that Pistorius could have fled from a perceived intruder on the night of the shooting.

He said Pistorius rushed back to his bedroom after the shooting and made other movements, indicating his mobility was not as restricted as Dr Versfeld suggested.

Later, Judge Thokozile Masipa expressed her unhappiness a piece of evidence from Pistorius' house - an electrical cord - could not be produced by the prosecution.

She ordered an investigation, when Mr Nel said he did not know where it could be found.

The next witness called by the defence was an acoustic expert Ivan Lin, who gave evidence about screams heard by neighbours on the night of the killing.

The trial continues.

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