Was Oscar online?

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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. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

Pretoria - The State in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial has tried to cast doubt on Pistorius’s version that he and Reeva Steenkamp went to bed at 10pm the night before her murder.

A cellphone expert on Tuesday told the Pretoria High Court that one of Pistorius’s phones made an internet connection at 01.48am on February 14 last year – about an hour and 10 minutes before he fired shots through a locked toilet door, killing Steenkamp.

Details of the website he surfed were not given.

He could have been surfing the net, busy on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook or WhatsApp, said cellphone expert Captain Francois Moller.

The internet connection lasted for 309 seconds but whether it was Pistorius using the phone is unclear.

In cross-examination, Barry Roux for the defence pointed out that there were records of Reeva Steenkamp’s phone making GPRS (internet) connections after “the unfortunate event”. He asked Moller to explain this.

The cellphone expert said that applications can be left open on devices, and would continue to make connections. These could be “Net connections, automatic updates, e-mails coming in, going out, a website that was left open”.

Roux asked if a connection did not necessarily meant human interaction, which Moller confirmed.

“So the same applies to Oscar Pistorius’s GPRS connections?” he asked.

“There are a lot of possibilities,” said Moller.

Earlier in the trial pathologist Professor Gert Saayman that partially digested food found in Steenkamp’s stomach indicated she had eaten two hours before her death – at about 1am.

Pistorius’s version is that, after having dinner with Steenkamp on Wednsday February 13, they headed to bed at about 10pm.

“She was doing yoga and I was in bed watching television. After Reeva finished her yoga, she got into bed and we both fell asleep,” he said during his bail application last year.

Testimony was that Steenkamp sent a message to Pistorius on February 11 reading: “Baby, can I cook for you on Thursday?” to which Pistorius responded: “I’d love that, nunu”.

Thursday was Valentine’s night, it was established.

Call records from the early hours of February 14 supported Pistorius’s version that he had called security first.

Security guard Pieter Baba insisted he had called Pistorius first upon getting several calls from other residents reporting gunshots from Pistorius’s house.

Baba’s version, that Pistorius called Johan Stander, Silver Woods Country Estate manager, first was also corroborated by Moller’s evidence. It was the first call he made after killing Steenkamp and registered at 3.19am.

His phone was used at 3.20am to make another internet connection or send a WhatsApp message. He then made a 66-second call to ambulance services before calling the number for security at the gate at 3.21am.

A minute later he apparently accidentally dialled 121 for voicemail, advocate Barry Roux SC, said.

Calls were also made to Pistorius’s friend, Justin Divaris, at 3.55am, before he phoned his brother, Carl Pistorius, at 4.01am. He tried to phone his agent, Peet van Zyl, three times at 4.09am, then Van Zyl returned his call.

The cellphone analyses also revealed that Pistorius and Steenkamp communicated several times during the day of February 13 last year, before they met up at his home that evening.

Steenkamp made an internet connection (which can include WhatsApp) to Pistorius’s phone at 12.13pm. She phoned Pistorius at 13.02pm and the cellphone tower showed that she was in the Silver Lakes region at the time.

The records also showed the two from time to time spoke to each other via cellphone during the afternoon and early evening.

Also tested was Pistorius’s version that he’d “been a victim of violence and of burglaries before. For this reason I kept my firearm underneath my bed when I went to bed at night”, with Warrant Officer Hendrick Maritz of the Boschkop police station, who compiles reports on crime hot spots in Pistorius’s neighbourhood, saying the area was relatively crime-free.

Asked whether Pistorius had ever reported a matter as a victim of a crime, Maritz said unless Pistorius’s name was spelt wrong or his ID number was punched in wrongly, he could find nothing on the police’s database relating to complaints from him.

The Star

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