Oscar Pistorius is a “broken man” after killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and “flashbacks of the shooting will be mental images he always carries with him”, a court has heard.
The double-amputee athlete was in court for sentencing – and could make a personal plea to Judge Thokozile Masipa in an effort to avoid jail.
He was cleared of murdering the 29-year-old model, but found guilty of culpable homicide – the equivalent of manslaughter in the UK.
Pistorius, 27, was also found guilty of discharging a firearm in public, an offence relating to him firing a gun in a restaurant.
The sentencing process is likely to take a week, both the defence and prosecution teams told the court in Pretoria.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who is looking for a lengthy jail term for Pistorius, said he would call two witnesses.
Pistorius’ lawyer Barry Roux said he would call three witnesses, plus one from the correctional services department.
The first of these, psychologist Dr Lore Hartzenberg, told the court how Pistorius was referred to her for grief therapy.
He had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after shooting Ms Steenkamp, and the sessions sometimes had to be abandoned “due to retching”, she said.
Under cross-examination, Mr Nel asked her about the Steenkamp family, saying: “Haven’t they suffered?”
She agreed: “I have no doubt they are a broken family.”
Mr Nel said he would bring evidence that Ms Steenkamp’s father Barry suffered a stroke because of his daughter’s death.
Dr Hartzenberg said “Mr Pistorius’ remorse was unabated during the therapy sessions” and concern for Ms Steenkamp’s parents was an “unremitting theme”.
“What we are left with is a broken man who has lost everything, his relationship with Reeva Steenkamp, his moral and professional reputation, his career and therefore his earnings,” she said.
She said “flashbacks of the shooting will be mental images he always carries with him” and it is “unlikely that he will ever recover from the shooting incident that happened on the 14 February 2013.”
Pistorius shot Ms Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year, but Judge Masipa concluded he had not intended to kill her.
He was negligent when he raced down the corridor towards his bathroom armed with a gun – then fired four bullets through the locked toilet door, she said.
If he is sent to jail, the maximum sentence Judge Masipa is expected to hand out would be 15 years.
Joel Maringa, a social worker for the Office of Correctional Services, recommended Pistorius be held under house arrest for three years.
He said the runner could stay at his uncle’s house in Pretoria, while doing 16 hours a month of cleaning at a local hospital or museum.
However, Mr Nel said house arrest was “shockingly inappropriate” and questioned whether Mr Maringa had thought about the impact on Ms Steenkamp’s family.
Sky’s Alex Crawford, in court, said Ms Steenkamp’s friends “expressed disappointment” during the lunch break at the prospect of the Paralympic sprinter doing community service rather than spending time behind bars.
Sentencing will resume on Tuesday morning.