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Wednesday 3 September 2014

Pistorius was ‘on his stumps’ when he smashed door

Police evidence seems to contradict athlete

Published 12/03/2014 | 09:40

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OSCAR Pistorius was 'on his stumps' when he tried to smash down his locked toilet door with a cricket bat after shooting girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, his murder trial heard.

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Police Colonel Johannes Vermeulen told the court the marks made on the toilet door through which Ms Steenkamp was shot are consistent with a person swinging a bat from a shorter height.

"The marks on the door are actually consistent with him not having his legs on and I suspect they must be similar to the height that he was when he fired the shots," Col Vermeulen told Pretoria's High Court.

This appears to contradict Pistorius’s bail application statement, where he claimed that, after shooting through the cubicle door, he "rushed back into the bedroom, screamed for help, and put on" his prosthetic legs. He returned to the bathroom and struck it with the bat.

During cross-examination, defence counsel Barry Roux argued that Pistorius struck the door with a "bent back" and the lower marks are consistent with his position. Col Vermeulen insisted it was an "unnatural and uncomfortable" position.

Mr Roux countered: "That's an unnatural position for you."

A policeman takes part in the reconstruction of the hitting of the door with the cricket bat during the trial of South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on March 12, 2014. Oscar Pistorius's murder trial was set to hear more details on the autopsy of his slain girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a day after the star sprinter threw up as he listened to a graphic account of the gunshot injuries he inflicted on his lover. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ALEXANDER JOE        (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)
A policeman takes part in the reconstruction of the hitting of the door with the cricket bat during the trial of South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on March 12, 2014. Oscar Pistorius's murder trial was set to hear more details on the autopsy of his slain girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a day after the star sprinter threw up as he listened to a graphic account of the gunshot injuries he inflicted on his lover. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ALEXANDER JOE (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)

The door has been viewed as crucial evidence in the case, and was removed from the athlete's home in the hours after he shoot Ms Steenkamp. The marks on the door could the determine the angle and height from which Ms Pistorius fired.

Pistorius's defence team questions forensic evidence suggesting the athlete was wearing his prosthetic legs when he hit the lavatory's door with a cricket bat  The athlete's defence argues Pistorius was on "his stumps" when he shot through the locked lavatory door fearing there was an intruder in the house. State prosecutors claim Pistorius deliberately shot through the door knowing Ms Steenkmap was inside following a domestic dispute.

Earlier, Darren Fresco, a one-time friend of Pistorius who was identified by two witnesses as being with the athlete on two occasions when a gun was fired in public, painted a picture of a man with a passion for guns and speed.

The IT engineer claimed that, in one occasion, Pistorius was driving at 200 km/h and that he had taken a picture of the speedometer to prove it. The athlete’s defence argued Mr Fresco was driving the car and, therefore, was fabricating evidence in court.

Yesterday, Mr Fresco told the court he asked the athlete if he "was f***ing mad" after Pistorius fired a shot out of the sunroof of a car following an altercation with traffic police.

During cross-examination, Mr Roux questioned his version of events arguing Samantha Taylor, Pistorius' former girlfriend, who was also in the car that day, told the court both Mr Fresco and Pistorius said they wanted to "shoot a robot" and laughed.

Mr Fresco said he could not remember saying that.

Mr Fresco also told the court Pistorius asked him to take the blame after his gun, a Glock 27 .40 calibre pistol, went off under a table at a Johannesburg restaurant in a separate incident in early 2013.

Mr Fresco said he told the sprinter he was "one up"- meaning there was a bullet loaded into the chamber of the gun - before passing him the gun. He said he knew of Pistorius' "big love' for guns and assumed he "had competency with it".

Last week, Pistorius pleaded not guilty of murdering Ms Steenkamp, claiming he shot her in a case of mistaken identity thinking she was an intruder.

Prosecutors argue he intentionally shot and killed  his girlfriend following a domestic dispute. If convicted of murder he will almost certainly receive a life sentence, with a minimum term of 25 years.

The case continues.

Independent News Service

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