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Wednesday 16 April 2014

Pistorius tearful in court hearing

Athlete Oscar Pistorius weeps in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Friday, Feb 15, 2013, at his bail hearing in the murder case of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Oscar Pistorius arrived at a courthouse Friday, for his bail hearing in the murder case of his girlfriend as South Africans braced themselves for the latest development in a story that has stunned the country. The Paralympic superstar was earlier seen leaving a police station in a dark suit with a charcoal gray jacket covering his head as he got into a police vehicle. Model Reeva Steenkamp was shot and killed at Pistorius' upmarket home in an eastern suburb of the South African capital in the predawn hours of Thursday. (AP Photo/Antione de Ras - Independent Newspapers Ltd South Africa) SOUTH AFRICA OUT

Blade runner Oscar Pistorius broke down in tears as he appeared in court accused of the premeditated murder of his girlfriend at his exclusive South African home.

The world's best-known Paralympian was taken into custody on Thursday after Reeva Steenkamp, 30, was shot dead at the luxury gated Silver Lakes Golf Estate in Pretoria.

Pistorius, 26, sat with his head bowed when he was brought before magistrates in the capital. He began to sob, covering his face with his hands, as the charge against him was read out. Chief magistrate Desmond Nair told him: "Take it easy. Come take a seat."

The gold-medal winner, who earned his Blade Runner nickname because of his prosthetic racing legs, was met by a media frenzy as he arrived at the packed court house dressed in a sober grey suit and blue tie. Earlier, he attempted to obscure his identity, covering his face with a jacket and a note pad as he was driven into the precincts.

The track superstar, who was supported by his father Henke, brother Carl and sister Aimee in court, was told prosecutors would pursue a charge of premeditated murder. The hearing came after a two-hour delay while the athlete's lawyers objected to the scrum of local and international reporters who turned out to witness his dramatic fall from grace.

His arrest triggered shock across the globe and prompted rumours that he may have mistaken his girlfriend for an intruder in what could have been a Valentine's Day surprise gone wrong. But police swiftly distanced themselves from the suggestion and said there had been previous incidents of a "domestic nature" at Pistorius's property.

Miss Steenkamp's body was discovered at around 3am, after neighbours reported hearing screams and gunshots coming from the sprinter's home. According to the Beeld newspaper, the model was blasted four times through a bathroom door. Officers said she was shot in the head and upper body. They recovered a 9mm pistol from the scene.

Pistorius will be held at a local police station until his next court appearance. A bail hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday, when police are expected to oppose the application.

The runner made history at the London 2012 Olympics by becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete in the Games, running in the 400m and 4x400m relay. South Africa's M-Net cable TV channel pulled adverts featuring the star off air immediately after his arrest.

Sports apparel group Nike, along with most of his sponsors, said they would not make any decisions until the police investigation was completed. His sponsorship deals - with firms including BT, sunglasses maker Oakley and French designer Thierry Mugler - are thought to be worth as much as £1.3 million a year.

Press Association

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