Pistorius to sell South African house 'to pay lawyers'

South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius waits on day 10 of his murder trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, on 14 March 2014 The prosecution has been calling witnesses for 13 days so far during the Oscar Pistorius murder trial

South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius is to sell his house in order to fund the legal costs of his murder trial, his lawyer has said.

He denies murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year, saying he shot her by mistake.

Lawyer Brian Webber said the ongoing trial was going to last longer than the three weeks expected.

He said Mr Pistorius had not returned to the house in a gated estate in the capital, Pretoria, since the shooting.

This aerial image showing the home of Oscar Pistorius in Pretoria on 14 February 2013 The value of Oscar Pistorius' house is estimated at $457,000

"Mr Pistorius cannot contemplate ever returning to live there again," the South African Press Association (Sapa) quotes Mr Webber as saying.

"Despite the fact that the house was handed back to Mr Pistorius by the authorities more than a year ago, a decision was taken to keep the house sealed until after the trial," he said.

Court papers filed last year during the double amputee's bail application show the house in the Silverwoods Estate was valued at about 5m rand ($457,000; £277,000), Sapa reports.

His murder trial, which is already in its third week, has adjourned until Monday when the prosecution is expected to call five more witnesses before the defence puts forwards its case.

The prosecution says Mr Pistorius intentionally shot Ms Steenkamp - a model, reality TV celebrity and law graduate - after an argument.

But the athlete says he believed his girlfriend was in bed and that an intruder had entered the bathroom when he shot at the toilet door in the early hours of 14 February 2013.

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.

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.

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