Oscar Pistorius 'suicide risk' - psychologist's report

WATCH: Coverage of murder trial of Oscar Pistorius resumes in South Africa

Oscar Pistorius has post-traumatic stress disorder and could be a suicide risk, according to a psychologist's report submitted at his murder trial.

The report, read by his defence lawyer, said he was mourning his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

On Monday, the court heard that he was not suffering from a mental disorder when he shot Ms Steenkamp.

He denies murder, saying he killed her by mistake when fearing there was an intruder in the house.

The prosecution says the Olympic athlete deliberately killed Ms Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, after the couple had an argument.

Oscar Pistorius trial - 2 July - in 60 seconds

Both prosecution and defence have accepted the findings of the psychologist's report. The BBC's Andrew Harding, who was in court, notes that both sides can interpret its findings favourably.

Two reports - one by a psychologist and another by three psychiatrists - were drawn up after a month of tests to evaluate the athlete's state of mind.

The prosecution on Monday noted that the psychiatrists' report said Mr Pistorius, 27, was capable of distinguishing between right and wrong and so should bear criminal responsibility for his actions.

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At the scene: Pumza Fihlani, BBC News, Pretoria

Another defence witness has described Oscar Pistorius as anxious and vulnerable. Professor Wayne Derman, who has known the athlete and treated him for six years testified about his "exaggerated response" when in uncomfortable situations - the "fight or flight" response.

With the case coming to an end, two reports were pitted against each other, with each side quoting favourable excerpts.

A report by a psychologist in the panel found that Mr Pistorius showed no signs of an explosive temper, narcissism or abusive behaviour, while a report by the three psychiatrists concluded that he could distinguish right from wrong.

Both, however, agreed that he did not suffer from Generalised Anxiety Disorder, discrediting the testimony of a previous defence expert, which had led to the month-long, court-ordered evaluation.

How is PTSD diagnosed?

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Defence lawyer Barry Roux on Wednesday quoted the second evaluation as saying that Mr Pistorius, a double-amputee, has a history of feeling insecure and vulnerable, especially without his prosthetic legs.

It said he was likely to react more sharply to fear than an able-bodied person would.

"Should he not receive proper clinical care, his condition is likely to worsen and increase the risks for suicide," Mr Roux quoted the report as saying.

It also said he did not show signs of narcissism or explosive rage, which is usually seen in men who are abusive to their partners.

The court has previously heard that Ms Steenkamp had sent the athlete a message saying: "I'm scared of you sometimes."

File photo: Oscar Pistorius (right) and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp pose for a picture in Johannesburg, 7 February 2013 Mr Pistorius says he mistook his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp for an intruder
Oscar Pistorius in court (30/06) Members of both the Pistorius and Steenkamp families have been closely following court proceedings

Final defence witness Wayne Derman, professor of sports and exercise medicine at the University of Cape Town, said Mr Pistorius was an anxious individual, with hand tremors and chronic problems with the stumps of his legs.

Earlier, Mr Pistorius' manager was cross-examined, with prosecutor Gerrie Nel concentrating on the sprinter's reported rows with roommate Arnu Fourie and his love life.

On Tuesday, Peet van Zyl said Mr Pistorius had become a "global icon" at the 2012 London Olympics and could have increased his income five or six times.

He competed in both the Paralympic and Olympic games.

Mr van Zyl said the athlete was also an "astute businessman" and there were a lot of opportunities for him because of his raised profile.

Our correspondent says that as he sat in the dock, Mr Pistorius must surely have contemplated the future outlined by Mr van Zyl - a future now utterly transformed.

INTERACTIVE
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  • 1. Balcony

    × Balcony

    Mr Pistorius said in his statement at the start of the trial that he woke in the early hours and walked on his stumps to the balcony, pulled in two fans, closed the sliding door and drew curtains. He said that shortly before he had spoken to Reeva, who was in bed beside him.

    He said he rejected prosecution claims that a witness heard arguing coming from the house before the shooting.

  • 2. Bathroom window

    ×

    Mr Pistorius said he heard the bathroom window sliding open and believed that an intruder, or intruders, had entered the bathroom through a window which was not fitted with burglar bars.

    "Unbeknown to me, Reeva must have gone to the toilet in the bathroom at the time I brought in the fans," he said.

    Mr Pistorius said he approached the bathroom armed with his firearm, to defend himself and his girlfriend, believing Ms Steenkamp was still in bed.

  • 3. Shooting

    ×

    Both sides agree four bullets were fired. Ms Steenkamp was hit three times.

    Mr Pistorius said he fired his weapon after hearing a noise in the toilet which he thought was the intruder coming out of the toilet to attack him and Ms Steenkamp.

    He said he was in a fearful state, knowing he was on his stumps and unable to run away or properly defend himself.

    Mr Pistorius said he rejected claims that he was on his prostheses when he shot at the door.

    A witness told the trial she woke to hear a woman screaming and a man shouting for help. She said that after the screams she heard four shots.

  • 4. Bedroom

    ×

    Mr Pistorius said he went back to the bedroom after shooting at the toilet door, still shouting for Reeva. Lifting himself up onto the bed, he felt over to the right hand side of it and noticed Ms Steenkamp was not there.

    Mr Pistorius said this was when he realised she could have been in the toilet.

  • 5. Toilet door

    ×

    Mr Pistorius said he went back to the bathroom but the toilet was locked, so he returned to the bedroom, pulled on his prosthetic legs, turned on the lights before bashing in the toilet door with a cricket bat.

    Forensics expert Johannes Vermeulen told the court that the height of the marks on the door caused by the cricket bat suggest Mr Pistorius was on his stumps at the time.

  • 6. Emergency calls

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    Mr Pistorius's defence team say he then called security at the gated housing complex and a private paramedic service before carrying Ms Steenkamp downstairs.

    A security guard claimed it was the other way round, and he had called Mr Pistorius first after reports of gunfire. However, phone records shown to the court revealed Mr Pistorius called the estate manager at 3:19am, a minute later he called the ambulance service and at 3:21am he called estate security.

    A minute later he received an incoming call - estate security calling him back.

    According to police phone expert Francois Moller, Mr Pistorius called his friend Justin Divaris a short time later and just after 4:00am he called his brother Carl.

Mr Pistorius says he fired multiple shots into a toilet cubicle where Ms Steenkamp was, while in a state of panic.

The sprinter and Ms Steenkamp, 29, had been dating for about three months before the shooting.

He has often displayed his emotions during the trial, including breaking down in tears in court.

There are no juries at trials in South Africa, so the athlete's fate will ultimately be decided by the judge, assisted by two assessors.

If found guilty of murder, Mr Pistorius, who went on trial on 3 March, could face life imprisonment. If he is acquitted of that charge, the court will consider an alternative charge of culpable homicide, for which he could - if convicted - receive about 15 years in prison.

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