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Roux pulls apart Oscar investigation

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barry roux mar 14

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Defence advocate Barry Roux is seen on day 10 of Oscar Pistorius's murder trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Pretoria - The defence in the trial of Oscar Pistorius has continued to undermine the police investigation by finding numerous inconsistencies in the version of events provided by the crime scene photographer.

Barend van Staden told the court of how he had been led to the crime scene by then chief investigator Hilton Botha, and then photographed the scene alone.

But Defence advocate, Barry Roux, showed through time codes on another officer's photographs of the scene that Van Staden was not alone.

The defence also said certain key pieces of evidence had been moved prior to the proper documentation of the crime scene.

After the lunch break, Van Staden said the cellphone found in the bathroom was picked up by Botha.

Using the image of the box of watches, it was determined before the court that Van Staden's camera time was correct.

Van Staden said he kept the photo master copies in his office after he was told by his commander to keep them safe.

Roux then presented former state witness, Colonel Johan Vermeulen's statement on his own inspection of the crime scene.

Roux asked Van Staden if he'd taken photos of Vermeulen when he was conducting tests with the cricket bat against the broken bathroom door.

Van Staden admitted he had taken more photos of the door tests, but used his own discretion on which ones to submit as evidence.

But Roux wanted to know if Van Staden had recorded Vermeulen matching the bat with the mark highest on the door.

While uncertain, Van Staden was told to check his album.

He said he couldn't find one, and he admitted he had been the one to select the photos added to the album. Handing over another photo to the court, Roux asked why the photo of the bat against the top mark wasn't used in the album.

Roux suggested that Vermeulen had asked Van Staden to not include the photo, and had decided prior what he had wanted in the album, manipulating its contents.

Van Staden said he had consulted with Vermeulen, and was given an indication of which photos to use.

Roux asked why certain photos weren't put in. Van Staden answered that the colonel said certain photos were not required.

“He told you what he wanted in and you obliged,” said Roux.

When prosecutor Gerrie Nel began his re-examination, he asked Van Staden if there were any photos where Colonel Motha could be seen.

“No,” he answered.

Earlier, Roux had argued that Motha and Van Staden had been taking photos of the crime scene at the same time, even though Van Staden had said he was alone.

Roux explained that the photograph time codes from both officers placed them in the same position at the same time.

But Nel said there were no photos from either Motha or Van Staden's album where they could both be seen, including the wide shots.

If they had both been in the four by five meter bathroom, they would have photographed each other, Nel theorised.

Nel suggested that the bathroom mat that had moved was to pick up the iPhone found underneath it on the bathroom floor.

Van Staden said at no point had he personally moved anything on the scene of the crime before taking photos.

Nel also argued that the cricket bat had not been moved by more than a few milimeters.

He said a flap on the handle was still in the exact position and it was merely the different camera angles from the two images that made it appear as though it had moved. The prosecutor then began leading new evidence about the collection of the bat and the cubicle door after the crime scene investigation was completed.

Van Staden said the door was placed inside a sealed body bag and had handed it over to forensics analysis.

The next witness called to the stand was Captain Chris Mangena, a ballistics expert.

He was the one to compile the report on the bullets fired the night Pistorius shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp.

In March last year, he was asked to take over the case, and recreate the incident.

He was asked to work on the bullet trajectories, distance determination and analyse the holes in the bathroom door.

Mangena said the door was received in pieces, and he had re-assembled it.

He was able to point out the four bullet holes and where they had perforated the door.

It was on 8 March 2013 that he returned to Pistorius' home to refit the door in the bathroom.

Several people accompanied him, including Colonel Ian van der Nest, Vermeulen and members of the defence team.

He took measurements of the bullet holes from the bathroom door. The first bullet hole was 93.5 centimers from the ground.

The second was 104 centimeters from the ground.

The third was 99 centimers, while the last was 97 centimers from the ground.

When the trial started, the state conceded that Pistorius was on his stumps when he fired at the bathroom door, according to Mangena's report.

Mangena said he noticed marks on the tiles, the first a ricochet point.

The bullet ricocheted across the wall and deflected to another wall, creating two holes.

Another three marks were also discovered on an adjacent wall.

In Mangena's report presented to the court, he said he'd determined the angle of the bullets as they perforated the toilet cubicle door.

He used rods that fit into the holes to determine these angles, along with a laser. Only one of the bullets left ricochet marks, while the other three disappeared between the door and the wall.

Only three bullets hit Steenkamp.

“The target was somebody inside the toilet,” surmised Mangena.

His analysis showed it was the second bullet from the left, marked B that ricocheted and did not hit Steenkamp.

The expert said that the movement of objects on the scene could impact on the reconstruction, and that the magazine rack was gone when he arrived - but he had seen it in pictures.

He also examined the bullet fragments found in the bathroom and cubicle, as well as Steenkamp's wounds through a post-mortem report and clothing.

Through these pieces of evidence he figured out Steenkamp's position.

He described Steenkamp's wounds, but also noted a bruise on her back.

Mangena also requested Pistorius' version of events to help in his reconstruction, as well as his measurements with and without his prosthetic legs.

Mangena's testimony continues on Wednesday.

shain.germaner@inl.co.za

The Star

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


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