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Saturday 30 August 2014

Forensic expert for Pistorius contradicts athlete's story

Aislinn Laing Pretoria

Published 18/04/2014 | 02:30

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Oscar Pistorius yawns as he listens to forensic evidence being given in court in Pretoria yesterday. Photo: AP
Oscar Pistorius yawns as he listens to forensic evidence being given in court in Pretoria yesterday. Photo: AP
A prosthetic leg is handed to the court in Pretoria. Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. Photo: AP
A prosthetic leg is handed to the court in Pretoria. Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. Photo: AP
June Steenkamp (L), mother of Reeva Steenkamp, looks on as South African Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his murder trial. Photo: Reuters
June Steenkamp (L), mother of Reeva Steenkamp, looks on as South African Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his murder trial. Photo: Reuters

A forensic expert called by the defence team of Oscar Pistorius contradicted the athlete's own account of what happened the night he shot Reeva Steenkamp dead in a second day of tough cross-examination by the state prosecutor.

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Roger Dixon, a former police forensics chief and now university professor, said he disagreed with Pistorius on the position of the magazine rack in the lavatory where he shot the model because of bruising to her back and blood marks on the floor.

Mr Dixon also appeared to contradict the athlete's account of his struggle to move Steenkamp out of the lavatory cubicle into the bathroom, saying she was carried rather than pulled out.

His evidence came after he complained to reporters that Gerrie Nel, the state prosecutor, who repeatedly questioned whether he was qualified to make findings about the case, was attacking him personally because he "did not understand the evidence".

In a posting on Facebook on Wednesday, he also wrote: "Let's see how much of my credibility, integrity and professional reputation is destroyed."

He also complained about those who "will not listen because they do not want to hear" and said he was looking forward to drinking beer after he finished his evidence.

Mr Dixon made a second social media blunder, telling the court he did not have a television or radio, or buy newspapers, and had not followed the state's case because it was "better not to be influenced by external factors".

Reporters in court quickly unearthed a Twitter profile in which he had retweeted earlier coverage of the trial.

Asked about his apparent contradiction of Pistorius's account that the magazine rack had been in the middle of the lavatory wall, he said that a rectangular mark in a pool of blood showed it was in fact closer to the toilet where Steenkamp fell.

"So you've now showed us that the accused was wrong in his version?" Gerrie Nel asked him. "I am testifying on my observations, not saying who is right or wrong," he replied.

The defence expert was later forced to admit that a model who they had walk past the bathroom window on his knees to mimic Pistorius on his stumps was 20cm shorter than the athlete.

SCREAMS

The demonstration was set up to test evidence by a close neighbour that he saw a man walk past the window shortly after hearing shots and screams early on February 14 last year, the night Steenkamp died.

"We wanted to see whether a person was visible," Mr Dixon explained.

"If you wanted to do that, why did you not ensure the person was right height?" Mr Nel asked. "Why would you present that as evidence?" He responded that it was an "oversight", telling the judge: "I am not trying to mislead the court M'Lady." The case later adjourned for two weeks and will continue on May 5. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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