Student to be mentally evaluated — (IOL)

SSRI Ed note: Young man on antidepressants shoots and kills parents and himself in murder-suicide attempt. He survives. Medication stopped. Psych assessment ordered.

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August 15 2007 at 03:54PM

Psychology student Grant Harris, charged with shooting dead his parents in July, was on Wednesday referred to the Valkenberg Psychiatric hospital near Cape Town.

“He needs an urgent psychiatric assessment and treatment immediately,” district surgeon Dr S Trope advised the Wynberg magistrate’s court.

“No effort should be spared in getting him into Valkenberg hospital, and he should not be sent to Pollsmoor Prison in his present state.

Harris, 23, made his first court appearance on Wednesday, facing two charges of murder.

‘At the moment, he is depressed and suicidal’

After allegedly gunning down his parents, Glenn and Deborah Harris, at their Diep River home in Cape Town’s southern suburbs, on July 10, Harris turned the gun on himself, but survived his suicide attempt.

Police said his suicide bid landed him in hospital under police guard, and that he was released on Tuesday, after treatment that lasted little more than a month.

On his discharge from hospital, he was handed back into police custody, and was on Wednesday examined by Trope.

At Wednesday’s proceedings, before magistrate Hafeesa Mohamed, Harris struggled slowly up a steep flight of steps leading from the holding cells to the prisoners’ dock.

He was unshaven and shabbily dressed, and seemed confused and unsteady as he stood before the court.

A letter from Trope, that formed part of the court record, said: “This is a 23-year-old man with a matric education and in his third year of psychology studies.

“He has a history of depression for many years, and was under the case of psychiatrist Dr C F Ziervogel at the time of the shooting.

“He was on anti-depressants. He has not been on medication since he shot himself. At the moment, he is depressed and suicidal. He needs observation, and protection from himself.”

Explaining Harris’s court appearance to the magistrate, Meyen said: “He shot his parents, and then himself.

“Fortunately, he survived, and then sent an SMS to a friend.”

She said Harris would be taken to Valkenberg hospital immediately.

The magistrate said Harris would remain in custody, and would be brought back to court on September 17, when the psychiatric assessment would be handed to the court. – Sapa