Nightclub visit makes sense: Oscar's psychologist


Paralympian Oscar Pistorius's visit to a nightclub during his murder trial makes sense, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

"It's not what I would expect, but it falls within the criteria -- it could happen," Pistorius's psychologist Lore Hartzenberg testified during sentencing proceedings.

Cross-examining her, prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked if the nightclub visit, during a crucial stage of his trial, made sense.

"What are you looking for madam?" Nel asked the silver-haired psychologist as she ducked into the dock to retrieve something from her handbag at her feet.

She emerged with a tome, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V.

"In a state of hyper-arousal, to get away from the trauma, he would go out to try and get away from his own nightmares and feelings," she said.

She referred in the manual to the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder, which Pistorius had been diagnosed with. These included irritability and reckless and self-destructive behaviour.

On September 12 Pistorius was found guilty of the culpable homicide of his girlfriend, model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp, but not guilty of her murder.

Judge Thokozile Masipa found him guilty of discharging a firearm in public, when he shot from his friend Darren Fresco's Glock pistol under a table at Tasha's restaurant in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, in January 2013.

Pistorius had claimed he thought there was a burglar in his toilet, and that he heard a noise, when he fired four shots through the locked door in the early hours of February 14 last year, killing Steenkamp.

The State had argued he killed her during an argument.

Nel earlier questioned why Hartzenberg had not read the whole judgment, and her excuse that she was out of the country at the time.

"Don't you think it's irresponsible for a professional person giving evidence in sentencing not to have read the judgment?" Nel asked.

"I'm just here to give my clinical observations and impressions during therapy," she said.

Nel then attacked her claim, made in her report on Pistorius, that the athlete accepted he was "ultimately responsible for the death of Ms Steenkamp".

His voice becoming strident and clipped as he had to repeat himself after not being understood, Nel asked Hartzenberg: "Was his view still that he never intended firing the gun, when you spoke to him after the judgment?"

"The version I have is exactly what the evidence was," she said.

She explained that Pistorius heard sounds in his bathroom and toilet and fired the shots.

Pistorius was also found not guilty on two firearms-related charges --illegal possession of ammunition, and shooting through the open sunroof of a car with his 9mm pistol while driving with friends in Modderfontein on September 30, 2012.

The matter was adjourned as Nel said he needed to consult with someone.


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