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Tuesday 16 September 2014

'Evidence moved in blood-spattered scene where Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend', court told

Published 18/03/2014 | 10:58

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June Steenkamp, mother of the late Reeva Steenkamp, waits for proceedings to begin in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. Oscar Pistorius is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva on Valentines Day, 2013. (AP Photo/Werner Beukes, Pool)
June Steenkamp, mother of the late Reeva Steenkamp, waits for proceedings to begin in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Reeva Steeenkamp's mother June (back L) looks on as Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius stands in  the dock during court proceedings at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria March 18, 2014.
Reeva Steeenkamp's mother June (back L) looks on as Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius stands in the dock during court proceedings at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria March 18, 2014.
Oscar Pistorius, sits in the dock as he waits for proceedings to begin in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Oscar Pistorius, sits in the dock as he waits for proceedings to begin in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Police photographs of the blood-spattered scene where Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend indicate that evidence was moved in violation of investigation procedure, the chief defence lawyer said today.

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Warrant Officer Bennie van Staden took hundreds of photos of the scene, including of blood marks, bullet casings, a gun and a cricket bat found inside Pistorius's bathroom in the hours after the double-amputee athlete killed Reeva Steenkamp before dawn on February 14 last year.

Chief defence lawyer Barry Roux has challenged previous police witnesses at the High Court in Pretoria, seeking to uncover contradictions and reported mishaps to support his argument that officers bungled the investigation.

He asked Mr van Staden to explain differences in photographs of the 9mm pistol that Pistorius used to shoot Ms Steenkamp through a closed toilet door, and of a cricket bat that the Paralympian used to hit the door.

"It seems there was movement of the bat" in the interval between two photos taken by Mr van Staden, Mr Roux said.

"It seems like that," Mr van Staden conceded.

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The police photographer also acknowledged that two pictures of the gun indicated that a mat underneath it could have been shifted.

Mr Roux said one photo also differed from the other because it showed a wooden splinter on the gun handle, and he questioned Mr van Staden's statement that he remembered being alone while taking photographs.

"Are you sure that you were alone up there?" Mr Roux asked, citing timelines from the photos of another officer as evidence that they were in the same area at the same time.

"There was a great overlap early in the morning... You were together in the bathroom, sometimes together in the bedroom."

Mr van Staden said he was sure that he was alone.

He has said he took nine photographs of Pistorius soon after the shooting, with the athlete seen in some of the images standing in blood-stained prosthetic legs and wearing blood-soaked shorts in the garage of his home.

Pistorius, 27, is charged with premeditated murder for killing Ms Steenkamp, 29. He has pleaded not guilty to murder and says he shot his girlfriend accidentally, thinking she was an intruder in the bathroom, and that he struck the toilet door with a cricket bat to get to Ms Steenkamp after realising what he had done.

Prosecutors say Pistorius killed Ms Steenkamp after an argument.

Mr van Staden's testimony was delayed by over an hour today to give the policeman time to collect photo records and discs at the defence's request. The defence also requested results of gunshot residue tests carried out on Pistorius.

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