Oscar returns to police cells

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

 

By Maryke Vermaak, Ahmed Areff and Jenni Evans

 

Pretoria - Murder accused Oscar Pistorius will spend a seventh night in police cells as his bail bid for the alleged murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was rolled over to Thursday.

In a dramatic day, his defence lawyer advocate Barry Roux attacked the police's initial investigation report on the shooting, which the State alleges was premeditated murder.

Roux accused investigating officer Hilton Botha of contaminating the scene at Pistorius' Pretoria home, by not wearing shoe covers.

The police also did not find a fourth bullet lodged in a toilet, Roux continued.

He said the State got it wrong when it said that Pistorius had a house in Italy in support of its claim that he was a flight risk and should not be granted bail.

Roux questioned a witness statement that screaming was heard before gunshots, saying this witness lived 600m away from Pistorius and the only screaming that night was by Pistorius.

He said .38 ammunition cartridges found in a safe belonged to Pistorius' father, and that a police photograher, not Botha, gave the ammunition to Pistorius' defence lawyer.

The ammunition was later returned to the police when they asked.

The court heard that of the four cellphones found in his home none had been used, and that the police only learned of a fifth later.

Botha earlier said the State would show through witness statements and phone records, that there had been fighting before the shooting.

In the morning, Botha said: “I believe he knew she was in the bathroom and he shot four shots in the bathroom and killed her.”

But later, after a grilling on the details in his investigation report, Roux asked Botha if Pistorius' version of events could be correct.

Pistorius has said he thought there was an intruder in the house then realised it was Steenkamp.

Botha replied: “I can't say because I have not seen all the forensic statements, but I would say the applicant's version is consistent with the evidence.”

The court also heard that Pistorius slept on the left side of the bed that night, instead of his usual right because of a shoulder injury.

Earlier, Botha said a holster and female slippers were found on the left-hand side of the bed.

Pistorius' shoulders were shaking and he wept as Roux said an autopsy showed Steenkamp's bladder was empty, consistent with someone who had gone to the toilet to relieve themselves.

The autopsy also showed that Steenkamp had no defensive wounds.

Roux asked Botha whether Steenkamp would have locked herself in the bathroom, away from danger, had she heard Pistorius scream while she was in the bathroom.

“That is true,” said Botha.

On Tuesday, in his affidavit, Pistorius said he heard a noise in the bathroom after fetching a fan from the balcony, fetched his firearm and called out to Steenkamp to call the police, thinking there was an intruder.

He then fired shots through the bathroom door, before realising Steenkamp was inside. He carried her downstairs, where she died.

Botha said Pistorius did not call police after the shooting.

This was the second Pistorius-related case Botha was working on.

The first was an assault case made by a woman but he said he could see there was no merit and the case didn't go ahead.

That one is now the subject of a civil claim by Pistorius against the police for wrongful arrest.

Roux also disputed a report on a gun Pistorius was handling going off in a Johannesburg restaurant.

The gun went off under the table as it was being passed to him, said Roux.

He wanted it known that Pistorius did not own a property in Italy, as the State claimed in support of its contention that he was a flight risk, but did have a bank account in Carolina, US. - Sapa


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