Pistorius sick in court as he hears of Reeva's injuries
Published 11/03/2014 | 02:30
OSCAR Pistorius, the South African Paralympian accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, sobbed in court and was physically sick yesterday as a state pathologist gave graphic details of the injuries he inflicted on her.
Prof Gert Saayman told how 29-year-old Ms Steenkamp could have died from the damage caused by any one of the three bullets that hit her through a locked lavatory door at the sprinter's home, but that it was the last shot, to the head, that ended her life almost instantly.
He said the "Ranger" ammunition in Mr Pistorius's 9mm Parabellum pistol was designed to cause maximum damage to its target, its edges unfurling outwards on impact like the petals of a flower.
"It is designed to open up, flatten out and mushroom when striking human tissue," he said. "The 'petals' were designed by the manufacturer to have sharp, jagged edges to cause maximum damage."
Prof Saayman said the model was wearing grey Nike shorts and a black vest top when she was killed. They were soaked in blood and damaged by bullet holes.
He said an examination of Ms Steenkamp's stomach contents suggested she had eaten mainly vegetables in a meal he estimated would have been taken two to three hours before her death.
His hypothesis is likely to be seized on by the prosecution as proof that Mr Pistorius has not been honest in his account of how Ms Steenkamp died. He said the couple went to bed at about 10pm, and his girlfriend is known to have died five hours later. The first forensic evidence came on day one of the second week of the trial of Mr Pistorius for the premeditated murder of Ms Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria in the early hours of St Valentine's Day last year.
The athlete (27) insists that he shot at the model and law graduate thinking she was an intruder.
The prosecution says he killed her deliberately after they had a row.
The harrowing nature of Prof Saayman's evidence prompted Judge Thokozile Masipa to order a blanket ban on the live television and audio coverage along with live tweeting from the trial to protect the "dignity of the deceased" and the sensibilities of her family.
The judge said she also wanted to shield "vulnerable members of society and children" among those who have been following the broadcasts around the world.
But neither Mr Pistorius nor friends of Ms Steenkamp in court could avoid the descriptions of how bullets and fragments of the lavatory door through which they were shot inflicted devastating injuries on the model. Desi Myers, with whom Ms Steenkamp stayed in Johannesburg and with whose daughters she was close friends, bowed her head and wiped her eyes with a tissue as Prof Saayman delivered his account.
Mr Pistorius's reaction was more dramatic – he retched and vomited loudly into a bucket between bouts of sobbing.
During adjournments, his brother Carl and sister Aimee rushed to his side in the dock, wrapping their arms around him as if trying to hold him together.
Judge Masipa repeatedly asked the athlete's barrister, Barry Roux, if she should adjourn, saying she was concerned he was not able to take in the evidence. He responded that his instructions were that Mr Pistorius wanted the evidence "over with" as quickly as possible.
"My lady, he's not fine but he's not going to be fine," Mr Roux said. "He's having some difficulty. He's very emotional but it's not going to change." The case continues.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)