‘Reeva was too injured to scream’

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Copy of PN oscar look REUTERS Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. REUTERS/Alon Skuy/Pool

Pretoria - Johan Stipp described the screams he heard coming from Oscar Pistorius' home as “fearful”, someone “scared out of (their) mind”.

He then told the court he was able to hear loud arguing coming from Pistorius' home just a few weeks ago.

This argument was also reported by an earlier witness, Estelle van der Merwe, proving that any loud noises can be heard by neighbours because their homes are all in close proximity.

The cross-examination of Johan Stipp began with his statements to the police.

Defence advocate, Barry Roux, asked if Stipp had been sworn in when giving his statement.

Roux said there was a stamp on his statement, made by former lead investigator into the murder, Hilton Botha, indicating that he had sworn an oath that the statement was correct. But Stipp had told the court he was not interviewed by Botha.

Roux then moved onto Stipp's version of events.

Stipp had been woken by a series of loud noises, and it was at 3.17am - after calling the police - that he heard the second set of bangs.

Roux asked if was possible that it was the gunshots that woke Stipp, and that the second noises were the sound of Pistorius breaking down the bathroom door behind which lay Reeva Steenkamp's wounded body.

But Stipp said both noises were identical, which is why he believed they were both gunshots.

Roux told Stipp he wasn't trying to undermine his credibility, but that sometimes people believe they are right even if they have made an honest mistake.

Roux continued to make the argument that Steenkamp, having been so badly wounded, would have been unable to scream. He said the screams Stipp had heard could not have been the deceased. “We either must put another female in the house or we must give the court another explanation,” said Roux.

“I can think of other versions...” responded prosecutor Gerrie Nel, objecting against this claim.

Stipp then asked that if the cricket bat banging and the shots sounded the same, could it not have been the cricket bat first and the shots second?

But Roux said it had forensically proven that the door had been broken down only after the bullets went through it.

Once again, Roux argued that Pistorius' agitated screams were what Stipp had heard.

But Stipp said it was odd that he heard a male scream as well, intermingled, and that it would be odd for Pistorius to scream in “two voices”.

Roux insisted that an expert would be called to prove Pistorius' screams could have been mistaken for a woman's.

Nel objected that Roux was taking it as fact that the first shots killed Steenkamp, and he told Judge Mhokozile Masipa this was not common cause.

Roux asked for the state's version that contradicted this.

But Nel didn't bite, revealing only a sliver of his strategy.

“The shot at 3.17(am) killed the deceased... I can not be clearer than that,” said Nel.

“After that there was no scream by a woman,” he added.

But Roux argued the state can not rely on two sets of shots, as it is not in accordance with the common cause evidence.

“Before 3.17(am), she was alive and screaming,” said Nel.

“We're not saying there were more than four shots fired, we will deal with the discrepancies of the state's witnesses... But for now there were four shots fired at 3.17,” said Nel.

Roux then asked Stipp again, if, based on Pistorius' version, the first shots were fired on the deceased, Steenkamp could not have screamed.

Stipp said if this was the case, he agreed.

He then said that if Steenkamp couldn't scream, the shouts Stipp heard had to have been Pistorius. Roux also pointed out that a previous witness and neighbour, Estelle van der Merwe, had thought the screams were female, but her husband had insisted it was Pistorius.

Roux then asked about Pistorius' manner when Stipp arrived to check on the incident and came upon the athlete and Steenkamp.

Stipp told the court that Pistorius was beside himself, and praying. Pistorius was also trying to open Steenkamp's airwaves by putting his fingers in her mouth.

The Star

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



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