Oscar Trial 12.5.2014 04:00 pm

Refer Oscar for observation – state

FILE PICTURE: Prosecutor Gerrie Nel. Picture: Herman Verwey/Media24/Pool

FILE PICTURE: Prosecutor Gerrie Nel. Picture: Herman Verwey/Media24/Pool

Murder-accused Oscar Pistorius should be referred for mental observation after a forensic psychiatrist told the High Court in Pretoria on Monday that the athlete suffered from a general anxiety disorder, the State said.

“It’s a disorder, My Lady, it has been diagnosed as a mental illness,” prosecutor Gerrie Nel said.

“The State is bringing that application… that this court will refer Mr Pistorius for mental observation.”

Forensic psychiatrist Merryll Vorster earlier told the court that Pistorius had general anxiety disorder.

She said because of his disability the way the athlete reacted in situations would be different to normal people.

Nel asked: “If a person is suffering from a general anxiety disorder, can he be a danger to society?”

Vorster responded: “Yes.”

Nel asked: “Would this make him a dangerous person?”

“Yes,” Vorster replied.

Nel questioned Vorster whether a person with general anxiety disorder could distinguish between right and wrong.

“He was able to appreciate the difference between right and wrong, but it could be his ability to react was affected by this general anxiety disorder,” she said.

“But this has to be linked to the defence. To put that if he was afraid that there was an intruder, then certainly it could have affected the way he acted to that threat.”

Barry Roux, SC, for Pistorius, objected to Nel’s application.

Pistorius is charged with murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He shot her dead through the locked door of his toilet in his Pretoria home on February 14 last year. Pistorius has denied guilt, saying he thought she was an intruder about to open the door and attack him. The State contends he shot her during an argument.

Vorster saw Pistorius for the first time on May 2 and then again on May 7.

Nel asked Vorster: “During cross-examination, there were stages he would answer by saying ‘I don’t know where you are going, I am fighting for my life’. In your interview, did he say that?”

Vorster responded: “No, he did not say that to me.”

The court heard that the defence had called Vorster to bring psychiatric factors to the court’s attention that might be of relevance during later proceedings.

She said Pistorius felt remorse.

“He feels remorse of having caused the death of Miss Steenkamp.”

However, when Nel asked whether the athlete ever said he killed Steenkamp, Vorster said she could not recall him saying that.

“From a psychiatric perspective, he is certainly aware that he fired the shots that caused Steenkamp’s death,” she said.

Nel also questioned Vorster whether Pistorius’s reactions after the shooting were in line with someone who had planned to kill.

She said his reaction following the death was appropriate.

Pistorius is also charged with three contraventions of the Firearms Control Act — one of illegal possession of ammunition and two of discharging a firearm in public. He has pleaded not guilty to these charges as well.

The matter resumes at 9.30am on Tuesday.

Sapa

 

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