Oscar Pistorius' watches went missing under police guard

Oscar Pistorius trail day 10 - in 60 seconds

Two of Oscar Pistorius's watches went missing from the crime scene, a former South African police officer told the athlete's murder trial.

Col Schoombie van Rensburg said he had been "furious" at the disappearances and had ordered officers to be body-searched for the "expensive" watches.

The court was also shown a photo of Mr Pistorius in blood-covered shorts.

He denies murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year, saying he mistook her for an intruder.

The prosecution says he intentionally shot Ms Steenkamp after an argument at his house on Valentine's Day 2013.

Friday's hearing has now been adjourned and the trial continues on Monday.

An image taken from the court pool TV via AP showing on screen a police photograph of Oscar Pistorius standing on his blood-stained prosthetic legs and wearing shorts covered in blood, taken shortly after the athlete fatally shot his girlfriend, which was shown to the court in Pretoria, at his murder trial Friday, March 14, 2014. A police photo was shown to court of Oscar Pistorius with his shorts covered in blood

Col Van Rensburg, who was initially in charge of the crime scene, said that when he first saw the watches he was worried about them and ordered them to be photographed because they "looked expensive".

Police on trial

The competence of South Africa's police is often under the spotlight, especially when it comes to the handling of crime scenes, and there have been a few embarrassing moments for them at the trial.

The court heard that two watches were allegedly stolen from the house and a ballistics expert handled the gun without gloves.

We have previously heard shoe marks were found on the toilet door - a vital piece of evidence.

While this does not discredit the state's entire case, it does not show the local police in a good light.

Some have likened the Pistorius case to the OJ Simpson trial. Much like the OJ case, which was pinned on circumstantial evidence, the prosecution is relying on the police to help prove their case.

With the world watching, local law enforcement will doubtless be feeling the pressure. They will not want to be blamed for jeopardising such a high-profile case.

After returning to the main bedroom where a team of forensic experts was gathering evidence, he realised one watch, said to be worth as much as $10,000 (£6,000) was missing. He said he was told Mr Pistorius' sister Aimee had come into the room and removed it.

After leaving the room again, another watch went missing, so he gave instructions for the police officers and their cars to be searched.

Col Van Rensburg said that after that, everyone entering and leaving the scene was thoroughly searched and entered into a log, presented in court.

He described his stunned reaction to the watches' disappearance: "I said: 'I can't believe it. We were just there. How can this watch be gone?'"

He said he told Mr Pistorius he should file a complaint, while he opened a case of theft.

The former officer, who retired last year, also told the court he was angry when he saw a ballistics expert handling Mr Pistorius' 9mm pistol without any gloves, and told him to put some on.

The admissions call into question the police's handling of the crime scene, in a case that is likely to hinge on sensitive forensic evidence, correspondents say.

Col Van Rensburg told the court that a ballistics expert handled a gun found at the crime scene "without gloves"

'Trail of blood'

Col Van Rensburg also said he saw Mr Pistorius with blood on his arm, while the court was shown a photograph of the South African Paralympic athlete with blood on his shorts and parts of his body.

Mr Pistorius says he carried Ms Steenkamp downstairs to try to save her.

On Thursday, Col Van Rensburg told the court in the capital, Pretoria, he had followed a "trail of blood" up the stairs after arriving at Oscar Pistorius' home.

Oscar Pistorius in court 14/03/14 Oscar Pistorius could face a long jail term if found guilty of murder
Sister of Oscar Pistorius, Aimee Pistorius, right, sits in court on the tenth day of proceedings in Pretoria, South Africa, Friday March 14, 2014. His family (pictured) has been attending the trial, as has Reeva Steenkamp's
Reeva Steenkamp - 7 February 2013 Reeva Steenkamp was a model, reality TV star and law graduate

Before Col Van Rensburg began his testimony on Thursday, photographs of Ms Steenkamp's bloodied head and face were shown in court, prompting Mr Pistorius to vomit.

The athlete was sick several times on Monday while evidence from the post-mortem examination was presented to court and has also cried on several occasions.

The court was later told that photos of her body would be removed from the police file and not displayed in court.

The BBC's Pumza Fihlani, who was in court, says images of the deceased's body are often shown during trials and the decision could fuel a perception that South African courts give special treatment to the rich and famous.

INTERACTIVE
  • ×

  • 1. Balcony

    × Balcony

    Mr Pistorius said in his statement at the start of the trial that he woke in the early hours and walked on his stumps to the balcony, pulled in two fans, closed the sliding door and drew curtains. He said that shortly before he had spoken to Reeva, who was in bed beside him.

    He said he rejected prosecution claims that a witness heard arguing coming from the house before the shooting.

  • 2. Bathroom window

    ×

    Mr Pistorius said he heard the bathroom window sliding open and believed that an intruder, or intruders, had entered the bathroom through a window which was not fitted with burglar bars.

    "Unbeknown to me, Reeva must have gone to the toilet in the bathroom at the time I brought in the fans," he said.

    Mr Pistorius said he approached the bathroom armed with his firearm, to defend himself and his girlfriend, believing Ms Steenkamp was still in bed.

  • 3. Shooting

    ×

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

    Mr Pistorius said he fired his weapon after hearing a noise in the toilet which he thought was the intruder coming out of the toilet to attack him and Ms Steenkamp.

    He said he was in a fearful state, knowing he was on his stumps and unable to run away or properly defend himself.

    Mr Pistorius said he rejected claims that he was on his prostheses when he shot at the door.

    A witness told the trial she woke to hear a woman screaming and a man shouting for help. She said that after the screams she heard four shots.

  • 4. Bedroom

    ×

    Mr Pistorius said he went back to the bedroom after shooting at the toilet door, still shouting for Reeva. Lifting himself up onto the bed, he felt over to the right hand side of it and noticed Ms Steenkamp was not there.

    Mr Pistorius said this was when he realised she could have been in the toilet.

  • 5. Toilet door

    ×

    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.

    Forensics expert Johannes Vermeulen told the court that the height of the marks on the door caused by the cricket bat suggest Mr Pistorius was on his stumps at the time.

  • 6. Emergency calls

    ×

    Mr Pistorius's defence team say he then called security at the gated housing complex and a private paramedic service before carrying Ms Steenkamp downstairs.

    A security guard claimed it was the other way round, and he had called Mr Pistorius first after reports of gunfire. However, phone records shown to the court revealed Mr Pistorius called the estate manager at 3:19am, a minute later he called the ambulance service and at 3:21am he called estate security.

    A minute later he received an incoming call - estate security calling him back.

    According to police phone expert Francois Moller, Mr Pistorius called his friend Justin Divaris a short time later and just after 4:00am he called his brother Carl.

The trial, now in its 10th day, is expected to call on more than 100 witnesses. It had been set to last for three weeks but looks likely to be extended.

The state is seeking to convince the court that Mr Pistorius and Ms Steenkamp - a 29-year-old model, reality TV star and law graduate - had an argument before he fired the shots that killed her.

There are no juries at trials in South Africa, and his fate will ultimately be decided by the judge, assisted by two assessors.

If found guilty, the 27-year-old - a national sporting hero and double amputee dubbed the "blade runner" because of the prosthetic limbs he wears to race - could face life imprisonment.

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