FOR the first time, Oscar Pistorius seemed calm and composed.
At every previous hearing at Pretoria Central Court, the Paralympic gold medallist has wept uncontrollably and struggled with the emotional burden of being charged with the "premeditated murder" of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
This time, however, the atmosphere at the bail hearing was strikingly different.
The 26-year-old athlete's defence lawyer took his chance to pick apart key elements of the prosecution's case and – at least once – the magistrate seemed to weigh in on Pistorius's side.
The prosecution had begun the day promising to provide "more details than necessary".
Instead, their case was systematically challenged during a torrid session of cross-examination by Barry Roux, Pistorius's lawyer.
Performance-enhancing drugs, supposedly discovered in the athlete's bedroom, turned out to be herbal remedies. Witnesses who claimed to have heard an argument between Pistorius and 29-year-old Ms Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day, along with screams and shots, were living more than half a kilometre away.
A spent bullet casing was missed by the police. And Warrant Officer Hilton Botha, the lead investigator, had walked through the crime scene without wearing the right protective clothing.
As these facts emerged, Pistorius regained some of his poise, lifting his eyes from the floor, busying his hands with note-taking rather than wiping away tears. His family seated behind him exchanged fleeting smiles and whispered hopes of "justice".
According to one journalist, a junior prosecution official leaving the court could be overheard remarking: "We're in terrible trouble."
Outlining the case against Pistorius, Mr Botha said that one witness had reported hearing voices raised in argument between 2am and 3am. Another, he said, heard shots from the direction of the athlete's house, followed by a scream and more shots.
"We have the statement of a person who said after he heard gunshots, he went to his balcony and saw the light was on. Then he heard a female screaming two to three times, then more gunshots," Mr Botha said.
Pistorius has testified that he believed Ms Steenkamp was in bed when he fired four shots into the lavatory, believing an intruder was inside. But the floorplan of the home shows that Pistorius must have passed through the bedroom in order to reach the bathroom. The police question how he could have done this without noticing that the bed was empty.
Mr Roux attacked the police investigation, saying: "It seems that an approach was adopted to discard anything that could have been consistent with a defence."
Mr Botha, sweating and clutching an empty water bottle, muttered that he stood by his case.
The police have insinuated that Pistorius killed Ms Steenkamp after physically attacking her.
But Mr Roux said that a post-mortem examination found no evidence of defensive injuries on the model's body.
However, Ms Steenkamp's bladder was found to be empty, supporting the athlete's statement that his girlfriend had entered the lavatory not to escape a row or an assault, but for a more prosaic reason.
"Is there anything you found that is inconsistent with Pistorius's version of events?" Mr Roux asked the detective. Mr Botha conceded that he had not done so.
When asked why the police want Pistorius remanded in custody, Mr Botha told the court: "I oppose bail because I think the accused is a flight risk."
The magistrate is expected to rule on the bail application during today's hearing. If convicted of premeditated murder, Pistorius faces life in jail. (© Daily Telegraph, London)