Cop demonstrates bat hitting toilet door

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Colonel Johannes Vermeulen showed the court how the cricket bat had been used on the toilet door. Photo: Screengrab

Pretoria - As the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius continued on Wednesday morning, members of the gallery were surprised to see Oscar Pistorius's toilet door erected next to the witness stand.

A key piece of evidence, the door was the barrier between Pistorius and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on the night he shot and killed her.

A chief forensic analyst from the forensic science laboratory, Colonel Johannes Vermeulen, took the stand as the 12th State witness.

Vermeulen is the commander of the material analysis sub-section, with more than 29 years of experience.

Vermeulen had attended the scene where Steenkamp was killed two weeks after the incident.

He examined the toilet door and the cricket bat allegedly used by Pistorius to try to gain entry to the bathroom.

Vermeulen was asked to determine how the two objects were related.

He also examined a metal plate from the main bathroom.

Vermeulen said he was asked to determine what kind of object could cause the scratching and bending of the plate.

The expert showed the two marks or holes on the cubicle door above the handle.

Vermeulen told the court the holes were consistent with the claim that the cricket bat had been used to bash the door.

The bat made a physical match with the marks.

Vermeulen also brought out the Lazer cricket bat, with signatures on its front.

The expert then showed the court how the bat had been used on the door, at a 45 degree angle, his left side towards the door.

While Vermeulen stood up, he said that if he tried to hit the door, he would have created marks higher than the one already on the frame, indicating that Pistorius may have been on his stumps when trying to break open the door.

But for the second mark, Pistorius would have had to have been facing the door straight on, no longer leaning in from the left. The bat also showed that it had gone partially through the door at its weakest point in the panel, with marks and indentations on its tip.

Vermeulen said he suspected Pistorius was not wearing his prosthetics when he hit the door.

He was also able to point out a “suspicious” mark beneath the handle that had not been created by the cricket bat.

This third mark appeared to be caused by an object that was in line with the door, rather than the hits of the cricket bat.

His testimony continues.

Earlier, Darren Fresco took to the stand at the High Court in Pretoria was set to be cross-examined by defence advocate Barry Roux, but the court was told he had no further questions.

On Tuesday, Fresco described two incidents where Pistorius had allegedly misused firearms.

The first incident in September 2012 had Pistorius fire a gun out of Fresco's car's sunroof. The second involved Pistorius accidentally discharging a firearm at the Tashas restaurant in Melrose Arch a month before Steenkamp was killed.

Roux had attacked Fresco on Tuesday for offering certain information that went against the defence's version of events at both incidents, and for having major gaps in his memory after the September 2012 incident.

On Wednesday, prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked Fresco about how Pistorius had been keeping his gun between his legs during the car trip.

Fresco also told the court that Pistorius had been the one driving on the way to the Vaal, even though Fresco had been driving on the way back when the shooting occurred.

Pistorius had allegedly taken a photo of the speedometer that showed how fast the car had been travelling, over 200km/h.

Fresco also told the court that he had not spoken with Samantha Taylor, the other passenger in the car and a State witness, since Steenkamp was killed, except for an encounter in the witness room on Monday.

He also said that during the incident at Tasha's, Pistorius had not been vocal about his anger with Fresco after the gun went off, despite Roux saying on Tuesday that Pistorius had been upset with Fresco for handed him a loaded gun.

Roux then presented a photo from Fresco's camera that had been sent to Pistorius. The photo of the car's speedometer had been taken at 16.40pm from the day of the sunroof incident.

Roux said that this proved Fresco had been driving and had taken the photo.

“I put to you, you engineered false evidence in re-examination this morning,” said Roux.

Nel objected saying the photo was not evidence that Fresco had been driving. Roux withdrew his accusation that Fresco had been driving.

Fresco said he did not remember taking the photo.

He was the stood down.

shain.germaner@inl.co.za

The Star


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