Pistorius a ‘suicide risk’, court told

Details from two reports arising from Oscar Pistorius’s almost 30-day observation at Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital were revealed in the Pretoria High Court on Wednesday (02/07/2014).

Pistorius stands accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, while the Blade Runner claims he mistook her for an intruder.

A psychologist’s report found that while Pistorius is a suicide risk and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, these were the result of his reaction to the shooting of Steenkamp and were not present prior to the incident on Valentine’s Day last year.

The report also states that Pistorius does not meet the diagnostic criteria to be considered as suffering from generalised anxiety disorder. This finding was confirmed in the report by a psychiatrist, who found that Pistorius did not suffer from any mental defect or disorder at the time of the shooting.

During this morning’s proceedings, Pistorius’s manager Peet van Zyl continued in the witness stand, where prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked him whether he was tailoring his evidence to protect Pistorius.

On Tuesday, Van Zyl had testified that Steenkamp was the first girlfriend Pistorius had asked him to arrange to accompany him to athletics events.

However, during cross-examination by Nel today, Van Zyl was read a letter Pistorius sent to his ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor, which indicated that he had asked his manager to arrange tickets for Taylor to accompany him to the London Olympics in 2012.

While Van Zyl acknowledged that he had received an e-mail from Pistorius in which he was sent a copy of Taylor’s passport and asked to hold it in on file, and told by Pistorius that the couple were “sorting shit out”, Van Zyl could not recall making arrangements for tickets.

When asked by Nel whether he was tailoring his evidence, Van Zyl said he had nothing to gain from protecting the Paralympian. He added that he and Pistorius no longer had a business relationship following the cancellation of endorsement deals in the wake of the shooting.

The defence’s final witness, Professor Wayne Derman, took the stand prior to the lunch break.

Derman, a physician of sports science and medicine who has known Pistorius for some time and served as the team doctor for the 2012 South African team, told the court he had observed Pistorius as hyper-vigilant and anxious.

He said he had witnessed Pistorius often scanning rooms for potential danger and that he had an exaggerated startled response at ceremonies where fireworks were set off, covering his head in his hands and cowering.

Derman was busy testifying about fight and flight response and whether disabled athletes were more prone to exaggerated responses when proceedings were adjourned after an objection from Nel.

Nel objected to the introduction of an e-mail sent to Derman by a British disabled women regarding her increased response to situations of danger.

Nel argued that this was hearsay evidence presented by a non-witness who was not available for cross-examination.

Defence lawyer Kenny Oldwadge argued that the e-mail would prove relevant to Derman’s testimony as it would supplement his findings.

Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned proceedings and will deliver her ruling on the e-mails when court resumes at 2pm. – Tymon Smith

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