Africa

Saturday 2 August 2014

‘Non-stop shouting' heard at Pistorius home on night of murder, bail hearing told

David Dolan and Peroshni Govender

Published 20/02/2013|07:44

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Oscar Pistorius' sister Aimee and brother Carl await the start of court proceedings in the Pretoria Magistrates court today
Oscar Pistorius' brother Carl and father Henke await the start of court proceedings in the Pretoria Magistrates court today
Oscar Pistorius' brother Carl and father Henke await the start of court proceedings in the Pretoria Magistrates court today
Oscar Pistorius denies the premeditated murder of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp (AP)
Oscar Pistorius denies the premeditated murder of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp (AP)

WITNESSES heard "non-stop shouting" in the home of Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius shortly before his girlfriend was shot dead, the lead detective in the murder investigation said today.

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Warrant officer Hilton Botha, a detective with 24 years on the force, also told the Pretoria magistrates court that police had found two containers of testosterone and needles in Pistorius' bedroom.

Pistorius, a double amputee known as the "Blade Runner" because of his high-technology carbon fibre blades, broke down in tears as Botha presented his testimony about the death of law graduate and model Reeva Steenkamp, 29.

The shooting and allegations that have emerged at the bail hearing have stunned South Africa and the millions around the world who saw the track glory of the athlete, who has no lower legs, as an inspiring tale of triumph over adversity.

In an affidavit delivered yesterday, Pistorius said he slept with a 9-mm pistol under his bed and had grabbed it when he awoke in the middle of the night thinking an intruder had climbed through his bathroom window and entered the adjoining toilet.

The 26-year-old - the most successful athlete in the history of the Paralympics - then described how he fired into the toilet door in a blind panic, in the belief the intruder was lurking in the toilet.

In his testimony, Botha disputed Pistorius' affidavit.

"I believe he knew she was in the bathroom and he shot four shots through the door," the detective said, adding that the angle at which the rounds were fired suggested they were aimed deliberately at somebody on the toilet.

Pistorius had said he moved into the bathroom on his stumps - the reason he felt so vulnerable.

But Botha said the shots appear to have been fired in a "top to bottom" trajectory, suggesting Pistorius was wearing his artificial legs when he pulled the trigger.

Botha said a witness on the upscale gated community north of Pretoria where Pistorius lived had spoken of a domestic argument coming from the athlete's home between 2am and 3 am.

One witness then said he heard a shot, followed 17 minutes later by more shots, Botha said. Another witness spoke of a shot followed by screams, followed by more shots, he added.

Steenkamp was hit in the head, arm and hip in the locker-sized toilet room adjoining the bathroom, which itself led from the bedroom.

Hilton Botha argued that Pistorius should not get bail as he considers him a flight risk.

Botha also outlined some of the forensic evidence relating to the case.

He told the court Reeva Steenkamp had three bullet wounds, one in her elbow, which broke her arm, one on the right hand side of her head above her ear and a third in her hip.

Mr Botha said the shots were aimed at the toilet bowl in the bathroom, and that a cricket bat was used to break down the door.

Pistorius, who once again began crying in court, had a licence for the gun that was used to shoot his girlfriend.

Mr Botha explained that there was an unlicensed 38mm pistol in the safe in his bedroom. He told the court Ms Steenkamp's slippers and an overnight bag were in the bedroom.

Botha said he wanted the Olympian charged additionally with possession of an illegal weapon and ammunition.

The court heard that two mobile phones were seized at the property and neither had been used to call the police or paramedics.

Previously the athlete had argued he had been the victim of crime and death threats, but today the court was told there was no record of this.

Police told the presiding magistrate that testosterone and needles were found in Pistorius's bedroom.

It was claimed the track star was involved in another shooting at a restaurant in Johannesburg in January and asked the gun owner to take responsibility for the incident.

Mr Botha also told the court of an incident at Kyalami racetrack where Pistorius allegedly threatened to "f*** up" a man during a row over a girl.

Since Pistorius has been charged with premeditated murder, the magistrate has said his defense must offer "exceptional" reasons for him to be freed on bail.

In an 11-page court affidavit, the Paralympic champion said he did not have his prosthetic legs on and felt "extremely vulnerable" in the predawn hours of Feb. 14 when he thought that Steenkamp was an intruder in a toilet cubicle inside his bathroom.

He said he was on his stumps when he fired into the door and then realized his tragic error when he backed away to his "pitch dark" bedroom and realised the model and law graduate, whom he had been dating for a few months, was not in bed.

The state is claiming that the shooting was premeditated and that Pistorius took time to put on his prosthetic legs and walk seven metres (20 feet) to the toilet before opening fire.

Pistorius' lawyer Barry Roux said it was not testosterone but a herbal remedy discovered in his client's bedroom.

Cross-examining the policeman, Mr Roux said a post-mortem examination showed Miss Steenkamp's bladder was empty.

He said that was consistent with her getting up at 3am to go to the toilet.

Mr Roux asked repeatedly why the police did not make simple checks - over the lighting and whether Pistorius had other phones.

The lawyer said Pistorius phoned the housing complex manager for help at 3.19am then Netcare hospital a minute later.

Mr Roux said the police discarded anything that might have been consistent with a defence.

 

Press Association

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