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Door is key to Oscar defence

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IOL pic feb25 oscar pistorius break in proceedings

Reuters

Oscar Pistorius stands in the dock during a break in court proceedings at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court. File photo: Siphiwe Sibeko

Durban - Oscar Pistorius’s defence team is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to examine the toilet door through which Reeva Steenkamp was shot, calling it one of the most critical pieces of evidence still outstanding.

The door was removed by police before Pistorius’s team had the chance to examine the crime scene.

Durban forensic pathologist Reggie Perumal, who has been hired by the defence, said the State was only going to start its assessments of the door now that Pistorius’s bail application was over.

“It is critical that we examine this door so that we can see the trajectory of the bullets and establish exactly where she was in the toilet when she was shot. Next to the post-mortem results this is the most crucial information needed,” he said.

Perumal, who was present at the post-mortem of Steenkamp’s body and took more than 200 photos, said many of the rumours about the crime or events leading up to it, such as her having been pregnant, were easily ruled out.

“There was also a theory that Steenkamp had a clump of Pistorius’s hair in her hand when she died, but we even have photos of her hands and there were only two strands of hair on her hand and they were her own, long blonde hairs.”

oscar bathroom plan

State Prosecutor Gerrie Nel looks at the bathroom plan of Oscar Pistorius' house during a break in court proceedings at the Pretoria Magistrates court. Photo: Reuters

Reuters

Other information obtained during the post-mortem that was critical to Pistorius’s bail application was made known to the court via the former investigating officer’s testimony. One such bit of information related to Steenkamp’s bladder having been empty at the time she was killed, Perumal said.

“We decided to get as much of our evidence as we could through the investigating officer so that I did not need to be called as a witness during the bail application. He was at the autopsy so that was actually a blessing for Oscar.”

But it is not only the post-mortem that Perumal relied on as he also assessed the crime scene. In fact, it was he who, through seeing a particular mark on the toilet wall, realised that a bullet cartridge was in the toilet and suggested it be retrieved.

“A lot of injustices are done in criminal cases because of improper crime scene investigation,” he said.

Perumal also told how bloody swipes from Steenkamp’s hair – as well as other blood markings in the house – supported Pistorius’s story of where he picked her body up and carried it.

“There was a lot of blood on the scene. We can tell when Oscar picked Reeva up by the blood from her hair swipes. And from the blood markings we can see she was still alive at that time. There were also swipes on the wall where he carried her down the steps. And we can tell that by the time she got to the bottom of the steps she was already dead.”

Perumal added that it had been frustrating to listen to the many “wrong conclusions” expressed by almost every person who had been following this case, as he could do nothing more than listen. And although so many people had “now become experts” on the matter, he, next to Pistorius, was possibly one of the few people who had an accurate idea of what really happened the night Steenkamp was killed. But his lips were sealed – until he testified at the trial.

bronwyn.fourie@inl.co.za

The Mercury


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