Former paralympian Oscar Pistorius should be hospitalised and not jailed, the court heard the defence as saying on the first day of his week-long sentencing that began on 13 June. The athlete's clinical psychologist Dr Jonathan Scholtz said Pistorius is a "broken" man and was suffering from "major depression".
Dr Scholtz, who assessed him, said the South African runner suffers from post traumatic depression, anxiety, paranoia and social phobia, and was not in a mental state to testify in his own defence. The South African athlete faces 15 years in prison for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013 at his home in South Africa.
Explaining to the court that a further jail term would have a detrimental effect on Pistorius, BBC reported Dr Scholtz as saying: "Since the offence he has developed a serious psychiatric condition which has become worse over the past two years."
"Mr Pistorius would be better served... if he gave back in a positive and constructive way, using his skills," he added.
Defence witness Dr Scholtz told the court Pistorius is "despondent and lethargic, disinvested, and leaves his future in the hands of God".
Instead of imprisonment, he suggested Pistorius should be given community service sentence to help others as the paralympian was studying law through correspondence and had an offer to work in his uncle Arnold's company in a child development programme. He said this would help Pistorius use his skills and give back to the society in "constructive ways".
Pretoria High Court is hearing Pistorius trial this entire week and is expected to give the sentencing on 17 June.
According to the psychologist, Pistorius now fears gun shots, even in films, and as a consequence he has sold off all his arms. "His falls from grace was enormous. He was vilified. He was unable to properly mourn her loss," the Telegraph reported Dr Scholtz as saying.
However, the doctor's affirmation of Pistorius was questioned by state prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who asked how Pistorius was in a state to give an hour-long interview to ITV news channel ahead of this week's final hearing but was not fit to testify in front of the court.
Nel picked on Dr Scholtz for ignoring the athlete's temper tantrums and claimed Pistorius had once banged the table when he was in prison, suggesting the defence psychologist's reports were biased.
"It's not my impression of him as that kind of person. It's out of character. Anger is normal and it will sometimes come out. I'm not saying he's not angry or aggressive but he's not a violent person in nature," Dr Scholtz replied to the state prosecutor.
The hearing will continue all week and original trial judge Thokozile Masipa will hear both the side's arguments.
Reeva's father Barry Steenkamp is expected to testify later this week for the time, as he had been absent from the hearing all along due to his poor health condition.