Africa

Oscar Pistorius found praying over Reeva Steenkamp body

  • 6 March 2014
  • From the section Africa

A neighbour of Oscar Pistorius has told his murder trial he found the South African Paralympic star praying over the body of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp as she lay dying.

In the trial's first account of the moments after the shooting, Johan Stipp said he tried to revive Ms Steenkamp.

During Dr Stipp's testimony, Mr Pistorius cried and seemed to retch.

The double amputee denies intentionally killing her, saying he mistook the 29-year-old model for an intruder.

If found guilty, the 27-year-old, a national sporting hero dubbed the "blade runner", could face life imprisonment.

'Crying all the time'

Dr Stipp, who was testifying on the fourth day of the trial at the high court in the capital, Pretoria, said he could see Ms Steenkamp's brain tissue in her hair.

It was at this point in the testimony that a police officer passed a plastic bag to Mr Pistorius.

Recalling the early hours of Valentine's Day 2013, Dr Stipp said he had heard gunshots and after making sure it was safe, went to help.

When he got to Mr Pistorius' house, he found the athlete kneeling by Ms Steenkamp, with "his left hand on her right groin, and his right hand - the second and third fingers - in her mouth".

"I shot her," the Paralympic star told him. "I thought she was a burglar."

"Oscar was crying all the time,'' Dr Stipp said. "He was praying to God [saying] `Please let her live.'"

Dr Stipp said Mr Pistorius had been in an emotional state, and fearing he might hurt himself, had asked where the gun was.

Before the trial was adjourned until Friday, Dr Stipp also testified that he saw a bathroom light on at Mr Pistorius's house and a figure moving from right to left as a woman screamed.

The defence case is that all the screams came from Mr Pistorius.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Oscar Pistorius was emotionally distraught in court as he heard testimony from a neighbour
Image copyright AP
Image caption There is huge interest in the case in South Africa
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption And intense media coverage of the trial at the high court in Pretoria

Earlier, defence lawyer Barry Roux said that two neighbours, Michell Burger and Charl Johnson, had discussed their testimony with each other and amended the rough notes they had made a few days after the shooting.

"Your interpretation [of events] is designed to incriminate the accused and it's unfortunate," Mr Roux said.

Mr Johnson denied this. He insisted that he had heard a woman screaming "help", followed by a man doing the same.

He rejected suggestions that the initial screams could have come from a man.

The state is seeking to convince the court that Mr Pistorius and Ms Steenkamp, a model, reality TV star and law graduate, had an argument before the athlete fired the shots that killed his girlfriend.

There are no juries at trials in South Africa, and his fate will ultimately be decided by Judge Thokozile Masipa.

Much of the case will depend on ballistic evidence from the scene of the shooting, correspondents say.

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