Oscar trial: evidence moved by cops

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oscar mar 18

SAPA

Oscar Pistorius is wished well during his ongoing trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at Pretoria's North Gauteng High Court. Picture:Werner Beukes

Pretoria - The defence in the trial of Oscar Pistorius has proven that key evidence was moved by investigators before crime scene photographers had recorded them.

On Tuesday defence advocate Barry Roux continued his cross-examination of Warrant Officer Barend van Staden, the crime scene photographer at Pistorius's home.

On Monday, Roux brought up the issue of the number of police photos taken of Pistorius on the night he shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp.

Roux said Pistorius remembered that many photos were taken, from different angles. But Van Staden insisted only four had been taken in the garage of Pistorius's home where he first met the athlete. He said the others were images of Pistorius’s prosthetic legs taken at a later stage.

Van Staden explained that he had to get permission from his superior to get the master copies.

It seemed the officer was called on Monday to counteract Roux’s argument last week that police had moved objects within the house without first documenting them.

But Van Staden went through dozens of his photographs before the court in extreme detail, giving time codes and other evidence to prove the thoroughness of the investigation.

Roux asked when another lead investigator, Colonel Ian van der Nest, the blood spatter analyst, arrived on the scene.

Van Staden said the colonel arrived the day after the shooting - February 15, 2013.

Van Staden had taken Van der Nest around the scene that day.

The photographer had taken multiple albums of the scene, with the first album showing the scene untouched before police began their investigation.

One of Van Staden’s photo captions read that he had opened a duvet on the floor of Pistorius's bedroom, because it had some mild spatter on it.

Another photo of the cricket bat, and towels on the bathroom floor was shown to the court, followed by another where the bat and towels were at different angles.

“It seems there was movement of the bat, and not placed in the same position,” said Roux.

Van Staden agreed, but didn't know of how the bat had been moved.

He did say that the way in which the bat was lying - face down - was how Van Staden had found it.

But according to his earlier testimony, he had turned it over later to examine and photograph the front of the bat.

The photographer created some confusion when he asked which side was the front part of the bat, and Roux began examining his knowledge of cricket.

After State prosecutor Gerrie Nel objected to this “ridicule”, Judge Thokozile Masipa called Roux out on this, saying he “cannot argue with the witness”.

Van Staden had confused the flat part of the bat as the “back” of the bat, as it was face down on the floor.

Roux then asked about the two cellphones found on Pistorius's bathroom floor and the firearm on the bathroom mat.

One of the phones was also concealed partially by the mat.

But another photo showed a wooden splinter on the butt of the gun, and the gun had been moved from its original position.

Van Staden admitted the mat could have been moved by him as he tried to take a photo of the firearm.

On Monday, Van Staden also said he had conducted a residue test on Pistorius's arms to find gun powder. On Tuesday morning he told the court that he had not taken images of the test.

Van Staden was also asked if he had been given Pistorius's extensive bail statement, but said he had not.

Meanwhile, court was delayed for more than an hour on Tuesday morning, as Roux had requested Van Staden acquire master copies of the photos taken at the crime scene

Nel said that the sheer number of photos requested by the defence was massive and more time was needed to go through them.

He proposed that the defence go through the 16 CDs of files and call Van Staden back to the stand if there were any outstanding issues.

shain.germaner@inl.co.za

The Star

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