herald

Friday 20 October 2017

Pistorius now 'at increased risk of suicide'

THE chief lawyer for Oscar Pistorius has said at his murder trial that a psychologist's report concluded the athlete is suffering severe trauma and will become an increasing suicide risk unless he continues to get mental health care.

Defence lawyer Barry Roux yesterday read excerpts from the report, which was compiled during a 30-day observation period at a state psychiatric hospital. A report was also compiled by three psychiatrists.

dangerous

The evaluation concluded that the double-amputee runner was not mentally ill when he fatally shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, through a closed toilet door in the early hours of February 14 last year.

Pistorius says he shot Steenkamp by mistake, fearing there was a dangerous intruder in his home. The prosecution alleges he killed her intentionally after a Valentine's Day argument.

The court was earlier told that the screams heard on the night Reeva Steenkamp was killed could have been as loud as a plane's engine.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel questioned Ivan Lin, an acoustics expert, who had been called by the defence team as part of its effort to suggest some neighbours who said they heard the screams of a woman were wrong, and that they actually heard the high-pitched screams of the double-amputee runner.

Mr Nel asked Mr Lin if he would put the screams at 120 decibels, or roughly about as loud as a plane engine.

Mr Lin replied: "One-twenty means extremely loud, you can almost hear it 100 metres away. It is a very slight possibility, but it is possible."

Mr Lin has testified that he conducted tests showing ambient noise and other factors can make it difficult to hear accurately from a distance.

Mr Nel said the screams of a woman have a "tonal character".

He told the court: "Four state witnesses all heard screams by a woman. That must be reliable even for a scientist."

Mr Lin responded that he could not say whether the neighbours were correct.

NEGLIGENT

Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison if found guilty of premeditated murder, and could also face years in prison if convicted of murder without premeditation or negligent killing.

He is currently free on bail.

Both the prosecution and his defence counsel accepted the findings of the report, although his legal team has called for more time to properly assess the findings and make some consultations.

@herald.ie

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