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Oscar ‘overwhelmed with fear’

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Pretoria - Oscar Pistorius said he was overwhelmed with fear when he shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, through a closed bathroom door.

Throughout the day at the Pretoria High Court, Pistorius has been painting the night that he claims he accidentally shot and killed the young model at his Pretoria East home.

Pistorius described how he thought he heard a noise on the night of the shooting.

Pistorius said he had gone to sleep between 9 and 10pm, but only woke up in the early hours of the 14th of February. The heat had woken him up, and he sat up in bed.

Pistorius then noticed his fans were still running and his balcony door was still open.

Steenkamp rolled over and asked him if he couldn't sleep.

He got up and took the fans and placed them further inside the room and closed to curtains.

When he came into the room, the only light was an LED on the amplifier. He could see Steenkamp's jeans on the floor. He picked them up and was going to place them over the light to block it.

At this point, he heard a window opening in the en suite bathroom.

“That was the moment when everything changed,” said Pistorius. He said he thought a burglar was breaking into his home and went into the short passage leading to the bathroom.

He thought that just 3 or 4 meters away, an intruder could be lying in wait. He returned to the bed to grab his gun, and took it out of the holster. Pistorius said he wanted to get back to the passage to get between the person he thought was in the bathroom and Steenkamp.

He slowed down, with his firearm in front of him. He whispered for Steenkamp to phone the police.

As he entered the passage, he said he was overcome with fear and began shouting. He shouted for Steenkamp to get on the floor and call the police. He also shouted at the perceived intruder to get out of the house.

As he went further in, he felt that the intruder could attack at any time, and he felt even more fear because he wasn't wearing his prosthetic.

He worried about putting his head around the corner into the bathroom in fear of getting shot. He then heard the toilet door slam, and he went into the bathroom thinking someone had hidden inside the toilet cubicle. As the defence requested a picture of the passage between the bedroom and bathroom, Pistorius broke down in the stand, his body lurching forward as he grabbed his reddening face.

Wiping his brow, he was able to identify his bathroom passage that was presented to the court.

Pistorius said when he got to the end of his cupboard passage on the way to the bathroom, he began shouting to Steenkamp to get down and call the police.

He had also shouted at the perceived intruder to get out of his home.

An image of the bathroom was presented to the court, and Pistorius said when he entered the bathroom, he had his pistol in his right hand.

He said he could walk more comfortably on the carpet before the bathroom tiles began, and he put his back against the left wall as he entered for balance.

Pistorius noted that the large window was open. As he peered around the corner to look at the shower, he realised no one was in the bathroom. However, he had heard the toilet cubicle door slam. He shouted again for Steenkamp. After some time, he was paralysed and thought anyone could come out of the cubicle to kill him. He heard a noise inside, and that was when he fired the four shots at the closed door. He kept on shouting for Steenkamp to call the police. He hadn't realised that Steenkamp had been inside the toilet, and he retreated back to the bedroom. When he tried to lift himself to the bed, he was still talking to Steenkamp, believing she was in the room. He felt the right hand side of the bed, and thought Steenkamp had gotten onto the floor in fear.

When he couldn't find her upon searching the room, the realisation dawned in his mind that Steenkamp may have been inside the bathroom.

He made his way back to the bathroom, and tried to pull the door open, realising it was locked.

He ran back to his bedroom, opened the curtains and shouted for help from the balcony.

He then put his prosthetic legs on, ran back to the door, turning on the light and trying to kick it down. When this failed, he fetched the cricket bat. Throughout his attempts to break into the bathroom, Pistorius said he was screaming, calling out to God and to Steenkamp.

He put his gun down on the bathroom floor, and began using the bat to try and break down the door.

“At that point I just wanted to get inside to see if it was Reeva,” said a tearful Pistorius.

He hit the door three times, breaking through a small section and saw the key on the floor inside the bathroom. He unlocked and opened the door, and saw Steenkamp on the floor. “I didn't know how long I was there for...” Pistorius trailed off as he broke down into loud sobs, forcing the court to adjourn.

Pistorius' legal team and some family members gathered around him during the short break.

June Steenkamp didn't move an inch in the gallery as Pistorius wails filled the courtroom.

Roux asked that he couldn't responsibly ask Pistorius to continue and the case was postponed until Wednesday morning.

The Star

Click here for IOL’s live blog about the Oscar trial.


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