Wednesday 26 November 2014

Pistorious trial: Steenkamp internet connection remained hours after her death, court hears

Published 25/03/2014 | 10:08

Oscar Pistorius holds his head in his hands as he listens to evidence being given in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday March 24, 2014. Pistorius is on trial for the shooting death of his girlfriend Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013. (AP Photo/Ihsaan Haffejee, Pool)
Oscar Pistorius holds his head in his hands as he listens to evidence being given in court in Pretoria, South Africa today
Oscar Pistorius, center, arrives with relatives at the high court in Pretoria (AP)
Reeva Steenkamp's mother June (L) leaves after the trial of Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria March 24, 2014. Photo: Reuters.

Reeva Steenkamp connected to the internet on her mobile phone hours before Oscar Pistorius killed her, and the connection remained hours after her death, a South African police expert told the athlete's murder trial today.

Captain Francois Moller, who downloaded data from the phones of both Pistorius and his girlfriend, told the High Court in Pretoria that Ms Steenkamp made the web connection just before 9pm on February 13 last year, and it lasted for more than 11 hours, possibly because social media programmes were still open.

Pistorius fatally shot her about six hours later through a closed toilet door in his home.

"If an application is not closed, it will carry on running," Capt Moller said.

Defence lawyer Barry Roux also indicated that Ms Steenkamp's phone could not have been manually used by anyone for the entire period cited by Capt Moller, saying: "It does not mean that it is human interaction."

Pistorius shot Ms Steenkamp dead in his home in the early hours of Valentine's Day, and Capt Moller's extraction of data also shed light on what appeared to be a frantic series of phone calls made from one of Pistorius's mobiles after the killing.

They include a call to the administrator of the housing estate where Pistorius lived at 3.19am on February 14, a call a minute later to an ambulance service and a call a minute after that to the housing estate security.

The phone that was used for those and other calls was only handed over to police 11 days later, Capt Moller said.

He told the court he had obtained more than 1,000 message exchanges between Pistorius and Ms Steenkamp from their phones. He said he received as evidence two BlackBerry phones, two iPhones, two iPads and a Mac computer from Pistorius's house the day after Ms Steenkamp was shot.

Prosecutors allege that Pistorius killed Ms Steenkamp after a Valentine's Day argument. Pistorius says he killed her by accident, mistaking her for an intruder in his house.

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