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Updated 01 March 2016

Oscar's defence continues to implode

Broken promises, pointless witnesses and delaying tactics: CyberShrink further analyses what he regards as a poor performance by Oscar's defence team.

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There seems to be no end to the long line of broken promises and pointless witnesses from the defence. 

We were promised expert evidence that Oscar screams like a woman and a comparison of the sounds of gunshots and cricket bats, none of which has been provided. We were told elaborate tests had been done, but reports have not been forthcoming.
 
We have to assume that the defence really did conduct the tests they mentioned, and sincerely planned to impress us with the results, but that something went wrong. Maybe they used the wrong “experts”, the wrong methodologies, or the results weren't what they wanted, and were subsequently discarded and buried.  

The absurdities of the Oscar trial
 
Bad manners
I must also mention a pattern of bad manners by the defence. South African rules and custom allow the defence team to avoid revealing the identity of their witnesses and likely content of their testimony before the very last minute. Although it causes unnecessary delays and great increases in costs for very little benefit, Oscar’s defence team have exploited this option at every turn. 

Though they knew who the prosecution would call, and what these witnesses would say well in advance, time and again they have sprung their witnesses on Mr Nel without any warning and in no logical order, causing many adjournments and delays. If you’re confident that you have a strong case, there is no need to resort to such tactics. 

Oscar in the driving seat?
Judging by Oscar's frantic scribbling of notes and shoving them forward to his team at the most inopportune moments, apparently giving instructions, one wonders whether the erratic and sometimes self-defeating defence case could be explained by Oscar imposing his own wishes and commands on his team,  rather than accepting expert legal advice.  

Has Oscar lost the plot?

Damaging defence witnesses
An essential problem with defence witnesses, is that they often undermine essential evidence, while casting light on things that are largely irrelevant. Did we need Versveld to convince us that Oscar was unstable rushing round on his stumps in the dark? He just managed to emphasise the unlikelihood of an unstable and wobbling Oscar pumping four shots rapidly through the toilet door, while being, as he claimed, so terrified as to be unaware of what he was doing

Oscar returns - with a glut of witnesses

More about Lin
Mr Nel was surprisingly gentle with Mr Lin’s highly unsatisfactory evidence. Despite repeated claims to be speaking as a scientist, his evidence was far from scientific and largely theoretical, based on a number of highly questionable assumptions. There were no tests, no measurements. He brandished an audiometer he apparently did not even use, and came up with the absurd concept of a "standardised human scream".

I fail to see the relevance of Lin’s guesses about whether witnesses at specific distances might have heard screams or not. It’s inconceivable that independent witnesses, not knowing each other, not knowing what was happening or whether what they heard was relevant to anyone, would independently invent claims to have heard screams and bangs at the same time that night.

The manager
Then came the agent/manager, who also was of no help whatsoever. Maybe he was brought in to support the weak argument that Oscar had a fear of crime that shaped and justified his actions, but this wasn’t convincing. 

Most of what he described was no more than the precautions most sensible South Africans would take. I also lock and latch hotel room doors – but that doesn't mean I'm entitled to shoot people . . . 

Read more:
Who's nuts: Oscar or his defence?
Why was Oscar sent for 30 days observation in a mental hospital?
The adoration of Oscar

*Opinions in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Health24.com




Professor MA Simpson is Health24's CyberShrink. A South African psychiatrist, he qualified in medicine and in psychiatry in Britain. He has been a senior academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries. Read more of his columns.

 

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