Reeva Steenkamp 'shot as she stood at the door arguing with Pistorius'
Published 12/04/2014 | 02:30
REEVA Steenkamp was pleading to her boyfriend Oscar Pistorius from behind their locked bathroom door when he shot her dead, the prosecutor in the Paralympian's trial claimed yesterday.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said it was "the only reasonable explanation" for why Pistorius gunned down the model at his Pretoria home in the early hours of St Valentine's Day last year.
He said the 27-year-old athlete's claim that he killed Steenkamp thinking she was an intruder who had climbed through his bathroom window and locked themselves in the lavatory was "so far-fetched" as to be "improbable".
"She wasn't scared of an intruder," Nel told Pistorius, revealing the state's theory on motive for the first time.
"She was scared of you. She was standing right in front of the toilet door, talking to you, when you shot her. That's the only reasonable explanation why you shot her in the head."
Mr Nel also challenged Pistorius on why he had not asked his girlfriend if she heard the window opening that prompted him to head for the bathroom with his gun.
He pointed to couples among the neighbours who gave evidence saying they heard gunshots and a woman screaming, pointing out they conferred with each other about what they heard.
"She was awake. Did you not ask her: 'Reeva, did you hear that?' That's a reasonable thing to do," Mr Nel challenged him.
"You were in a situation of danger, why did you not confer? I say a reasonable person would have looked where Reeva was, that she was safe, but you didn't – you just grabbed your gun. On your own version, you did not find out that she was okay or scared."
"My whole being was fixated on this person in the bathroom," he answered.
Mr Nel asked why Pistorius ran towards the threat if he felt vulnerable, rather than getting his girlfriend and the pair of them hiding out on the balcony or behind the bed.
"You're vulnerable but you go towards the danger," he said. "Why would you do that?"
"Because if I stayed where I was, Reeva and I would have been in danger," he replied.
"If you had stayed in that room, Reeva would still be alive," Mr Nel corrected him.
Pistorius insisted he was justified to seek out his gun. He told the judge "things happen every day" in South Africa – homeowners are tied up, shot at and sprayed with Mace. He explained it was his "instinct" and "my personality" to disregard his disability and seek to protect his girlfriend.
"I find your instinct strange. Instinct would have been to make sure Reeva was safe."
The prosecutor suggested the paralympian had wanted to get his gun.
"What was your intention? You got your gun and you released the safety mechanism. Why? You wanted to shoot," he said, leaning towards the athlete in the witnessbox. "There's a massive difference between being ready for a confrontation and wanting to shoot someone," Pistorius responded.
Gerrie Nel then moved to the "most improbable" part of Pistorius's account.
"Reeva is three metres away from you in the toilet when you were shouting to her to call the police, and she never uttered a word?" he asked incredulously.
"She would be scared, she would shout out and talk to you. You are in the same room."
Pistorius insisted that he knew his girlfriend and she would have been too frightened to make a noise.
"She would have perceived the danger was coming closer," he said. "She would have stayed quiet."
He added tearfully: "I wish she had screamed out, let me know she was there."
Throughout the day, Gerrie Nel dogged the athlete with claims he was changing his story, at one stage telling him his lengthy explanations were designed to cover his tracks.
"I'm thinking of something that never happened and I'm trying to keep up," he said.
Pistorius responded angrily, saying he had never changed his version since the statement he gave to his bail hearing last year. "The state's case has changed many times, mine has stayed the same," he said.
But at one stage, the judge agreed with Mr Nel that Pistorius was making "mistakes".
"Are you making these mistakes because you're too tired?" Judge Thokozile Masipa asked him, saying it was important he was "not at a disadvantage " in the witness box to ensure his rights were protected.
He insisted he was, but later, blamed tiredness for apparent contradictions on another issue. Nel told him he was struggling because he was "covering up a lie".
Pistorius burst into tears and told the judge: "This is the night I lost the person I cared about. I don't know why people don't understand that."
Speaking as court adjourned, the athlete said he planned to spend the weekend sleeping
The case continues on Monday. (© Daily Telegraph, London)