Oscar Pistorius bail hearing: Conflicting accounts

South African athlete Oscar Pistorius is to stand trial accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria. Here we look at the conflicting versions of events put forward at the bail hearing shortly after the killing on 14 February 2013.

What happened on the night of the shooting?

Oscar Pistorius and chief investigative officer Hilton Botha have given conflicting accounts.

Here are the key points from Mr Pistorius's affidavit and police testimony at the bail hearing.

INTERACTIVE
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  • 1. Balcony

    × Balcony

    Mr Pistorius said in his affadavit he woke and walked on his stumps to the balcony, pulled in a fan and closed the door. He said prior to falling asleep, he had been watching TV and Ms Steenkamp had been doing yoga.

    Police told Mr Pistorius's bail hearing that a witness heard arguing coming from the house.

  • 2. Bathroom noise

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    Mr Pistorius said he heard a noise from the bathroom. He thought it was an intruder. Too scared to turn on the light, he pulled a 9mm pistol from under his bed and went to the bathroom, shouting to Ms Steenkamp to call the police.

    The prosecution said Ms Steenkamp had locked herself in the toilet, which is off the bathroom.

  • 3. Shooting

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    Both sides agree four bullets were fired. Ms Steenkamp was hit three times.

    Mr Pistorius said he was on his stumps when he fired at the closed toilet door.

    A police officer at the bail hearing claimed bullets were fired through the top part of the door downwards, suggesting Mr Pistorius was wearing prosthetic legs.

  • 4. Bedroom

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    Mr Pistorius said he went back to the bedroom after shooting at the toilet door, then noticed Ms Steenkamp was not in bed. Mr Pistorius said he then realised she could have been in the toilet.

    Police told the bail hearing the holster for the 9mm pistol was found under the side of the bed on which Ms Steenkamp slept, implying it would have been impossible for Mr Pistorius to get the gun without realising that Ms Steenkamp was not in the bed and could have been the person in the bathroom.

  • 5. Toilet door

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    Mr Pistorius said he went back to the bathroom but the toilet was locked, so he returned to the bedroom, pulled on his prosthetic legs, turned on the lights before bashing in the toilet door with a cricket bat.

    Police told the bail hearing a witness had seen lights on in the house immediately after the gunshots.

  • 6. Emergency calls

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    Mr Pistorius said he called the manager of his guarded and gated housing complex and a private paramedic service. He then carried Ms Steenkamp downstairs.

    Police said they found Ms Steenkamp dead on the ground floor when they arrived. They also found two iPhones in the bathroom and two BlackBerrys in the bedroom, but said that none had been used to phone for help.

Full details: Conflicting accounts of the killing

Lawyers acting for and against South African athlete Oscar Pistorius agree that Reeva Steenkamp was killed on 14 February between 04:00 and 05:00 local time (02:00 and 03:00 GMT).

But they agree on little else.

The prosecution argues that Ms Steenkamp's death was the result of pre-meditated murder following an argument between the couple.

The defence says there is no evidence of this and there is not even evidence of murder. It argues that Mr Pistorius made a tragic mistake and should face a lesser charge, possibly of culpable homicide.

Here are the key points on which the defence and prosecution differ.

Murder or mistaken identity?

From the outset the key area of dispute has been whether Mr Pistorius shot his girlfriend accidentally.

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp at an awards ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa (file image) Mr Pistorius claims the couple were deeply in love

Soon after the killing, police spokeswoman Denise Beuke dismissed suggestions that Ms Steenkamp "had been perceived to be a burglar". The prosecution and police argue that the athlete deliberately shot his girlfriend through a bathroom door at his home following an argument.

He shot four times and hit Ms Steenkamp three times, they say.

The defendant later broke down the bathroom door and carried the victim downstairs. She was dressed at the time, the prosecution says.

Mr Pistorius claims that he was asleep until only moments before the shooting, there was no argument between the couple and that he had "no intention" of killing his girlfriend.

He told his bail hearing that he woke in the middle of the night and went to the balcony because he heard what he thought was a robber in the bathroom.

Mr Pistorius says the couple were "deeply in love" and "could not be happier".

Using the toilet or hiding?

Chief investigating officer Det Hilton Botha claimed that Mr Pistorius fired at an angle into the toilet door, and that Ms Steenkamp's wounds suggested she was not on the toilet - which adjoins the bathroom - at the time, but cowering in a corner.

Defence lawyer Barry Roux said that Steenkamp's bladder was empty when she died, indicating she had indeed got up to use the toilet. Mr Roux said Steenkamp's autopsy showed no sign of defensive wounds or an assault.

Prosthetics

Was Mr Pistorius wearing his prosthetic legs? The prosecution has linked this question to which he was acting in a pre-meditated fashion.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel claims that on the night of the killing Mr Pistorius got up, paused to put on his prosthetic legs, walked seven metres (24ft) and fired his gun four times through the locked toilet door.

But the defence say he was unable to attach his prosthetic limbs in time to confront the perceived threat.

Det Botha testified that he thought the bullets were fired "down", suggesting Mr Pistorius did have his prostheses on. But he admitted he had no actual evidence of that, and could not be sure about the distance the shots were fired from or their precise trajectory.

According to Mr Pistorius's affidavit, he was walking on his stumps - making him feel "extremely vulnerable" in the "pitch dark".

Asleep in the dark - or arguing?

But was it dark?

Mr Pistorius's testimony relies on it having been dark, because Mr Pistorius says he did not notice that Ms Steenkamp was not in bed - despite having to walk twice past the bed to get to the bathroom from the balcony and back.

It would have been even more difficult not to notice Ms Steenkamp's absence, Det Botha claimed, because the pistol was under the side of the bed on which she was sleeping.

"You want to protect her but you don't look at her?" Mr Nel asked the athlete as he sobbed quietly.

The prosecution says a witness alleges the lights were on, and that a woman's cries could be heard.

"We have statement of a person who said after he heard gunshots, he went to his balcony and saw the light was on. Then he heard a female screaming two-three times, then more gunshots," Det Botha told the court.

Mr Botha also cited a female witness who said that she heard "non-stop talking like fighting" between 02:00 and 03:00 on 14 February.

The detective initially told the court the witness was some 600m (1,800ft) away, but later amended his answer to 300m - something the Pistorius family said was "extremely concerning".

Det Botha was forced to acknowledge that while the witness had said she heard two sets of three shots 17 minutes apart, only four cartridges were found.

In a statement read out to court, Mr Pistorius said that he was "filled with horrible fear" that someone had sneaked in through an open window of the bathroom in the dead of night.

Phone calls

Det Botha said four mobile phones were seized at the property, but none was used to call police or paramedics.

Mr Roux said there was another phone which the defendant had used to call for medical help at 03:20. He had also called a security guard. Det Botha said he had not been told about the other phone.

'Testosterone'

Two boxes of testosterone and needles were found in Mr Pistorius's bedroom, the prosecution says.

The defence says it was not testosterone, but a legal "herbal remedy" used by athletes.

Ammunition

Det Botha said Mr Pistorius would also face charges of possession of unlicensed ammunition, since the police found .38 rounds in a bedroom safe. Mr Pistorius has a licence for a 9mm pistol, not a .38.

The ammunition belonged to Mr Pistorius's father, the defence says.

Flight risk

Mr Pistorius has offshore accounts and a house in Italy, and thus constitutes a flight risk, the prosecution argues.

"We don't want another Dewani matter," Det Botha told Mr Pistorius's bail hearing, referring to the case of Shrien Dewani, the British man accused of the murder of his wife. South Africa is currently trying to extradite him from the UK.

But the magistrate seemed sceptical about whether Mr Pistorius constituted a flight risk, asking Det Botha whether a gold medal-winning Olympic athlete would forsake his career and avoid the chance to clear his name in court.

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