Paralympian Oscar Pistorius is suffering from post-traumatic stress and depression and without psychiatric treatment he faces an increased risk of suicide, according to a report by a psychologist who evaluated him.
Defense attorney Barry Roux read out excerpts today of the psychologist’s report, the result of a court-ordered monthlong assessment, at the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital. It said Pistorius was traumatized by the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who he killed on Valentine’s Day last year.
“The degree of anxiety and depression that is present is significant, he is also mourning the loss of Miss Steenkamp,” Roux quoted the report as saying. “Should he not receive proper clinical care, his condition is likely to worsen and increase the risk for suicide.”
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel responded by reading out from a separate report by three psychiatrists prepared over the same period that said Pistorius was suffering no mental disorder at the time of the killing.
“At the time of the alleged offences the accused did not suffer from a mental disorder or mental defect that affected his ability to distinguish between the rightful or wrongful nature of his deeds,” Nel quoted the report as saying.
Double-amputee Pistorius, 27, says he thought Steenkamp was an intruder when he fired four shots through a locked toilet cubicle door in a bathroom at his home. The prosecution says he killed her after an argument. Pistorius would face a minimum of 25 years in jail if convicted of murder.
Nel had requested the assessment after a forensic psychiatrist, Merryll Vorster, called by the defense, said Pistorius has a generalized anxiety disorder that may have affected his actions when he shot Steenkamp.
Roux has portrayed Pistorius as a victim of crime who was in a loving relationship with Steenkamp.
Nel has tried to show Pistorius as a short-tempered gun-lover who shot Steenkamp in a fit of rage.
The psychologist’s report quoted today by Roux said there was no evidence that Pistorius had a “history of abnormal aggression or explosive violence.”
Pistorius denies the murder charge and has pleaded not guilty to three separate gun-related charges.
Judge Thokozile Masipa, who will give the final judgment in the case because South Africa doesn’t have a jury system, could also consider a lesser charge of culpable homicide if she rules that the act wasn’t intentional.
Known as the Blade Runner because of his J-shaped prosthetic running blades, Pistorius has been free on 1 million rand ($94,000) bail since February last year.
The charges have derailed the running career of the winner of six Paralympic gold medals and cost Pistorius sponsorship deals with Nike Inc., Luxottica Group SpA’s Oakley and Ossur hf, the Icelandic company that manufactures the blades he uses.
Pistorius was the first double amputee to compete at the Olympic Games in London in 2012.