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Tuesday 16 September 2014

'Before I knew it, I'd fired four shots,' Pistorius told court

Trial adjourned to allow sobbing athlete to recover

Published 08/04/2014 | 08:49

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South African track star Oscar Pistorius broke down in tears in the witness stand today after he described the moment he shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day last year, thinking her to be an intruder.

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"I heard a noise from inside the toilet that I perceived to be somebody coming out," he said, his voice cracking. "Before I knew it I had fired four shots at the door."

The South African court adjourned Oscar Pistorius' murder trial until Wednesday to allow the athlete to regain composure.

Earlier, Pistorius has described what he said were the terror-filled moments before he shot dead girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The South African athlete removed his prosthetic legs in court at his murder trial in Pretoria to show how he stood by the toilet door which he fired into last year.

The actual bullet-riddled toilet door was set up in the courtroom to show how the shooting took place.

Pistorius said that he heard a window open in his bathroom in the early hours of February 14, 2013, causing him to believe intruders had entered his house and to race to get to his gun to defend himself and his girlfriend, who he claims he thought was still in bed.

In a voice quivering with emotion, Pistorius, the world-famous double-amputee athlete, referred to the moment when he said he thought there was a burglar in his home as when "everything changed".

"I wanted to put myself between the person who gained access to my house and Reeva," Pistorius said.

While Pistorius claims his fatal shooting of his girlfriend through the toilet door in his bathroom was a tragic accident caused, in part, by his fear of violent crime, prosecutors maintain he killed the model intentionally and his story of a mistaken shooting is an intricate lie.

Before Pistorius's evidence was interrupted by a lunch adjournment, he had left court to change out of his suit and returned wearing a white long-sleeve T-shirt and shorts, showing his prosthetic legs.

Pistorius claims he was not wearing his prosthetics - and therefore felt more vulnerable - when he shot through the door to kill Ms Steenkamp.

In the courtroom, Pistorius was asked by defence lawyer Barry Roux to stand by the bullet-marked toilet door, which has been in the courtroom as an exhibit for much of the trial, while wearing his prosthetics.

Dramatically, Pistorius then sat on a wooden bench and took off his prosthetics and again approached the wood door. It was to show how tall he stood next to it while standing on his stumps next to it.

Pistorius is into his second day of evidence, and was giving an account of what he says are the events in the moments leading up to the shooting that put him on trial for murder. Pistorius was charged with premeditated murder over Ms Steenkamp's death and faces a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years before parole if convicted on that charge.

 

 

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