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Why are there bloodstains above the headboard of Oscar Pistorius’s double bed? Also, why on the side on which Reeva Steenkamp slept before he shot her in the bathroom? Why are there bloodstains on the duvet they slept under?
Neither the bed nor the duvet were in his path when, according to his account, Pistorius carried his mortally wounded girlfriend out of the bathroom and down the stairs of his luxury home.
These puzzles emerged on Monday as the High Court in Pretoria was taken on yet another journey through the crime scene at Pistorius’s home on the exclusive Silverwoods Estate, east of Pretoria, by police photographer Warrant Officer Bennie van Staden.
The blood trail started on the ground level of the house. Van Staden followed it through his camera up the stairs to the main bedroom and, as it became increasingly intense, the bathroom. There were pools of blood in the toilet cubicle, where Steenkamp was shot early on February 14 last year.
In capturing the scene in the main bedroom, Van Staden took pictures of bloodstains on the wall, above the bed. These can be clearly seen in the pictures, but, as yet, they remain unexplained.
The smears were on the left hand side of the bed, metres from where Steenkamp’s black overnight sports bag lay on a sofa.
There are also blood spatters on the duvet, which was found on the floor, towards the foot of the bed.
These were not immediately visible as the duvet lay crumpled on the floor. Van Staden discovered them when he opened the duvet up in his quest for evidence.
Neither the duvet, nor the headboard was positioned between the bathroom and the bedroom door. The en suite bathroom is reached from the bedroom along a passage and, in carrying Steenkamp out of the bathroom, Pistorius did not need to advance towards the double bed, which stood against the bedroom wall.
Did he make a detour or was the blood already there?
There is also blood on Pistorius’s bedroom door, and on a box of expensive watches sitting on speakers on a table in his room. There is even blood on the faces of some of the watches.
Neither the State nor the defence’s versions of events provides an explanation for the presence of blood in the bedroom.
But all of this should be explained when the next police forensic expert, Colonel Ian van der Nest – a blood spatter specialist – takes the stand.
Van Staden was adamant on Monday that he had not tampered with evidence by moving certain items to take pictures, Sapa reports.
He said he turned the cricket bat over to take a photograph showing blood at its tip, and lifted a towel in the bathroom because he saw a cellphone protruding from beneath it. “During my investigations… I moved the towel and I saw the phone.”
Van Staden took nine photographs of Pistorius in a pair of bloodied shorts, with blood on his prosthetic leg and foot. He was the third policeman to take the stand in the trial, which entered its third week in the North Gauteng High Court on Monday.
In cross-examining the police photographer, Barry Roux, SC, for Pistorius, asked whether he had taken more photographs of the accused, but discarded them, and whether he had been alone at the scene as he worked.
“You had undisturbed access to the scene – it was only you and your camera?”
Van Staden said he was, until members of the provincial police task team arrived. He denied having excluded photographs of Pistorius from the file of evidence.
Roux then asked whether he would be allowed access to his camera memory cards. Gerrie Nel, for the State, said this would be acceptable only if the photographer was present, to which Roux snapped that he did not plan to “tamper”.