Africa

Oscar Pistorius 'broken' after shooting Reeva Steenkamp

  • 5 May 2014
  • From the section Africa

South African athlete Oscar Pistorius "was broken" after shooting his girlfriend, his neighbour has said, as the murder trial resumed after a two-week break.

Johan Stander was the first person the athlete called after shooting Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.

The South African Olympic sprinter denies intentionally killing her.

He says he shot through a toilet door while in a state of panic, fearing there was an intruder in his house.

The trial resumed after an Easter break.

Mr Stander implied that he thought Mr Pistorius' reactions showed that the shooting had been a mistake.

"I saw the truth that morning and I feel it," he told the court.

"He was desperate to save her [and] prayed to God."

Recent break-ins

The BBC's Pumza Fihlani who was at court in the capital, Pretoria, says the athlete wore a black suit, black tie and crisp white shirt, black glasses and his hair had been cut.

The Paralympic athlete, 27, had a pen in his hand and listened intently to his neighbour, she says.

Mr Stander, who lives about 350m (380 yards) from Mr Pistorius said he received a call at 03.18 on 14 February 2013.

He said the athlete told him: "I shot Reeva. I thought she was an intruder, please come quick."

Mr Stander said that when he and his family arrived at the house, they saw Mr Pistorius coming downstairs with Ms Steenkamp in his arms.

"I could see she had a head-wound," Mr Stander said.

"He was broken. He was screaming, he was crying, he was praying," he said, his voice breaking with emotion.

"It's not something I would like to experience again," he said.

"He asked us to assist him to take her to hospital."

Mr Stander also said there had been several recent break-ins in the private estate where he and Mr Pistorius live.

However, under cross-examination, he accepted that it was a safe place to live.

Carice Viljoen, Mr Stander's daughter who arrived with him at Mr Pistorius' home, broke down in court as she described seeing the accused carry Ms Steenkamp down the staircase.

The athlete was begging Ms Steenkamp to stay alive, she told the court. "Stay with me, my love," she quoted him as saying.

Ms Viljoen followed the athlete inside his home when he went to get identification documents because she thought he was going to shoot himself, she added.

The couple had been dating for just a few months when the incident happened in 2013
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel accused Mr Pistorius of "tailoring his evidence" during his cross-examination

Before the Easter break, the athlete faced several days of cross-examination from the state prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who accused him of using emotional outbursts "as an escape".

As well as neighbours, the athlete's defence team is expected to call on a ballistics expert.

A psychologist is also set to be called to speak about Mr Pistorius' disability and his acute sense of vulnerability.

The prosecution has sought to show a pattern of reckless behaviour by the athlete and has argued that a reasonable man would have checked before firing four bullets through a locked door.

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.

Ms Steenkamp, 29, was a model, celebrity TV star and law graduate.

If Mr Pistorius is acquitted of murder, the court must consider an alternative charge of culpable homicide, for which he could receive about 15 years in prison.

He also faces charges of illegally firing a gun in public and of illegally possessing ammunition, both of which he denies.

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

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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