Psychologist: Pistorius has lost everything

Dr Lore Hartzenberg is the defence’s first witness for argument in mitigation of sentence.

Oscar Pistorius walks the media gauntlet outside the High Court in Pretoria ahead of his sentencing on 13 October 2014. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

PRETORIA - Oscar Pistorius's defence team has called its first witness in the High Court in Pretoria for arguments in mitigation of sentence.

Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide last month but acquitted of murder for the Valentine's Day shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

He insists he mistook her for an intruder.

The athlete's legal team has this morning called Doctor Lore Hartzenberg, a trauma expert who has also observed the blade runner.

She says Pistorius has lost everything.

"We are left with a broken man who has lost everything. He has lost his love relationship with Miss Steenkamp. He has lost his moral and professional reputation."

She adds that during their sessions Pistorius was distressed and showed remorse for killing his girlfriend.

"Besides the retching, he presented with obvious physical symptoms of perspiring, a pale palor, trembling and pacing up and down, which are all typical signs of anxiety and trauma."

Hartzenberg is Pistorius's personal psychologist and has been helping him for the past 18 months.

She says she initially stated that she didn't want to get involved in the case but athlete's defence team asked her to testify today and hand over a report on her findings.

Hartzenberg says she saw Pistorius daily or weekly and that often sessions were cut short because he was so emotional.

She says sometimes during a session the athlete would just cry and she would hold him.

The psychologist says Pistorius became physically ill and retched during the sessions and believes he is still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

After a short break, when prosecutor Gerrie Nel consulted with a state psychologist, he continued cross-examining Hartzenberg.

Nel says that there have been media reports the athlete is in a new relationship, despite Hartzenberg testifying that he is still battling to come to terms with Reeva's death and carries photos of her with him.

Hartzenberg says she deals with issues clients bring up and Pistorius never mentioned a new relationship.

She says if it was important to him, he would have.

Although she had read reports about the athlete forming a new relationship, she was not sure whether they were true.

Nel pointed out that she also cried in court when the athlete was asked to take off his prosthetic legs, implying that she hasn't been professional in her conduct and avoided asking about a new girlfriend.

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