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Couple who told of screams had 'contaminated evidence'

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 TRIAL: Pistorius clasps head

TRIAL: Pistorius clasps head

TRIAL: Pistorius clasps head

Defence lawyers in Oscar Pistorius's murder trial have sought to undermine the evidence of a couple who say they heard screams and gunfire the night the Olympic athlete fatally shot his girlfriend.

Charl Johnson, a neighbour of the double-amputee runner, previously told the court in Pretoria that he heard the cries of a terrified woman and shooting around the time Pistorius killed Reeva Steenkamp. Mr Johnson's wife Michelle Burger had given similar evidence.

Chief defence lawyer Barry Roux yesterday said there were differences between the statements Mr Johnson and Ms Burger gave to police and evidence they gave in court.

Both the statements and the evidence shared similarities, Mr Roux said, implying the couple contaminated their evidence by talking through what they were going to say.

"You could just as well have stood together in the witness box," Mr Roux said. "What do you say to that?"

CAUTION

That drew a caution from Judge Thokozile Masipa.

Mr Roux said crucial elements in their evidence were missing in their earlier comments to police, including statements that they heard a woman's screams rising in anxiety and intensity and that they heard the woman's voice "fading" after the last in a volley of gunshots.

Mr Johnson said he and his wife were more expressive in court.

"There's a lot more emotion involved... whereas the statement is more factual," he told the court.

At the beginning of proceedings today, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Mr Johnson's telephone number had been read out in court yesterday. Mr Johnson then said he had since received a "large amount" of missed calls.

He described one voicemail message as saying: "Why are you lying in court? You know Oscar didn't kill Reeva. It's not cool."

Pistorius (27) says he shot 29-year-old Steenkamp by accident, fearing she was an intruder in his home.

The trial continues.

HNEWS@HERALD.IE


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