Pretoria court told Pistorius has 'anxiety disorder'

Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on May 12, 2014. Oscar Pistorius's murder trial resumed on Monday, May 12, 2014, with a psychiatrist telling the court the sprinter had an "anxiety dis
Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on May 12, 2014. Oscar Pistorius's murder trial resumed on Monday, May 12, 2014, with a psychiatrist telling the court the sprinter had an "anxiety disorder", as the defence began to wrap up its case. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

PRETORIA (AFP) - Oscar Pistorius's murder trial resumed on Monday with a psychiatrist telling the court the sprinter had an "anxiety disorder", as the defence began to wrap up its case.

Opening the eighth and perhaps final week of evidence, defence lawyer Barry Roux called a forensic psychiatrist to testify on Pistorius's feelings of vulnerability, a factor that may have caused him to believe his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was an intruder when he shot her dead on Valentine's Day last year.

"It is my opinion, my lady, that Mr Pistorius has an anxiety disorder," said Meryll Vorster, recounting stressful factors in the Paralympic gold medallist's life.

Vorster, who also interviewed Pistorius's close family and friends to compile her report, said the athlete's disorder began when his parents encouraged the double-amputee to be normal.

"Over time this could result in anxiety," she said.

The Pistorius children were not "soothed" by their mother, Sheila, who slept with a firearm under her pillow and "abused alcohol intermittently", continued the psychiatrist.

"The children were reared to see their external environment as threatening," said Vorster, who said Pistorius's mother "added" to her children's anxiety.

As the psychiatrist was giving her testimony, Pistorius appeared to become emotional, his face turning red. His sister Aimee sat stone-still, staring into the distance.

When Pistorius's mother died when he was a teen, the star sprinter lost his only adult role model, said the psychiatrist. His parents were divorced at the time.

At age 21, a rising athletic star and financially independent Pistorius "broke all ties with his father", she said. Soon after, he bought a gun.

"Individuals with an anxiety disorder work hard to control their environment," said Vorster, wearing black-framed glasses and a black blazer, "in a way, his strict training regime and his diet helped him to alleviate his levels of anxiety".

The 27-year-old star sprinter claims he mistakenly shot Steenkamp through a locked toilet door, believing she was an intruder in his upmarket Pretoria home.

Pistorius, nicknamed the "Blade Runner" for his prosthetic limbs, has pleaded not guilty to intentionally killing Steenkamp, as well as to three other firearms charges.

If found guilty of premeditated murder, Pistorius faces 25 years in South Africa's notoriously brutal jails and an abrupt end to his once glittering sporting career.