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Tuesday 23 September 2014

"I'm scared of you," Steenkamp told Pistorius in text message

Published 24/03/2014 | 12:17

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Reeva Steenkamp admitted to being scared of the South African track star in a text message sent less than three weeks before he shot her dead, a police expert told his murder trial on Monday.

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The Olympic and Paralympic athlete is on trial for the murder of 29-year-old model and law graduate Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013.

He has pleaded not guilty to murder, saying he was deeply in love with Steenkamp, whom he had been dating for a few months, and that he mistook for an intruder hiding in a toilet at his luxury Pretoria home.

However, text messages between the pair in the weeks leading up to the shooting painted a picture of a volatile, stormy relationship, with Steenkamp accusing Pistorius of jealousy and outbursts of anger.

"I'm scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me and of how you will react to me," one message sent by Steenkamp on Jan. 27, 2013 said. It was read out in court by police expert Francois Moller on Day 14 of the trial.

"We are living in a double standard relationship. Every five seconds I hear about how you dated another chick. You really have dated a lot of people yet you get upset if I mention one funny story with a long term boyfriend," it continued.

Prosecutors are seeking to prove that Pistorius tried to kill Steenkamp deliberately by firing four rounds from a 9 mm pistol through a locked toilet door after a heated argument.

Earlier testimony by Anette Stipp matched some of the testimony by other witnesses who have said they also heard a woman screaming around the time that Pistorius killed Reeva Steenkamp before dawn on February 14, 2013.

The defence has countered that the neighbours were actually hearing Pistorius screaming in a high-pitched voice after he shot Ms Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model. Pistorius has said he shot his girlfriend by mistake through a locked toilet door, thinking that she was an intruder in his home.

Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel opened Monday's court session in Pretoria by noting evidence will include analysis of mobile telephones, including two that were removed from the bathroom where the shooting happened.

Investigators had been chasing information on Pistorius's locked iPhone for months and met Apple officials in the United States just before the trial started on March 3. Pistorius has said he forgot the password to his phone.

Mrs Stipp said under questioning from Mr Nel that she heard gunshots while lying awake at around 3am on the night of the shooting, and then heard the "terrified, terrified" screams of a woman.

"The screaming at that stage just continued," said Mrs Stipp, who recalled looking out from a balcony at two houses with lights on in the gated estate where her family and Pistorius lived.

She said she told her husband Johan, who previously testified, that the screaming sounded as though a "family murder" had taken place.

"There was definitely a female screaming for quite a period," Mrs Stipp said. "You could definitely hear two different voices."

She said she then heard a second set of shots, and the screaming stopped.

The defence has said that Pistorius fired into the door and then battered the door with a cricket bat to get to Ms Steenkamp after realising she was inside the toilet cubicle. Defence lawyer Barry Roux insists that some neighbours who testified mistook the sound of the cricket bat striking the door for gunshots.

Defence lawyer Kenneth Oldwadge pressed Mrs Stipp on her recollections of that night, questioning whether she was inside her house or on a balcony while hearing what she said were shots and screams, and whether she was alert because she had said she was slightly ill at the time.

Mr Nel has said he will wrap up his case against Pistorius this week after calling four or five more witnesses to support his contention that the Olympian intentionally killed Ms Steenkamp after an argument. The defence will then present its case.

Judicial officials say the trial will continue until May 16, with a recess in April.

Reuters

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