Oscar Pistorius speaks to his sister Aimee Pistorius during his murder trial at the High Court in Pretoria. REUTERS/Deaan Vivier/Pool

Pretoria - The defence in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius spent most of the day building up the athlete's character before the court.

The athlete stands accused of murdering his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius spent hours giving a detailed familial and professional history.

Pistorius told the court that it was difficult to compete overseas as it limited his interactions with friends and family.

Defence advocate Barry Roux then asked about Pistorius use of alcohol and drugs.

Pistorius said he drinks in the off-season, and from January to September he rarely if ever drinks.

During a boating accident in 2009, he said he had been drinking that day, but only one drink and he was not intoxicated. He also said he also never used drugs, but he had tried dagga as a teenager.

Pistorius added that he'd never been found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs.

Next, Pistorius spoke of his experiences as the victim of crime.

He said when he was growing up, he had “many” housebreakings. His father's home had been ransacked while he was staying there.

While living with his mother, there were many thefts and break-ins.

His father had been hijacked twice, once while Pistorius was in high school.

His brother Carl, had also been the victim of an attempted hijacking.

Pistorius' own home was broken into in 2005, and many of his possessions stolen and his car damaged. One night, a man had managed to break into his garden, and had hurt his dog to the point where it needed medical treatment.

On more than one occasion, Pistorius claimed he'd been followed home.

He said that on one occasion, a car had come up behind him and he changed lanes to allow it past. He said he saw a muzzle flash in the car as it slowed down in front of him. He said he swerved across the road to avoid the pursuer.

On another night with his ex-girlfriend, Samantha Taylor, the couple were followed to Pistorius' Pretoria East estate. He phoned security to allow him in, and had got out of the car with his firearm to scare off the two men who had followed them.

In 2012, he also intervened when he saw two men trying to assault a woman. In January 2013, two kilometers from his home, a toyota corolla and a taxi skipped a robot near him. People in the taxi began throwing bricks at the corolla, then got out and smashed the windscreen and windows. They dragged the driver out of the car and began beating the man. Pistorius got out and withdrew his firearm, scaring the men off.

Pistorius called an ambulance to help the bleeding man.

In December 2012, Pistorius was assaulted after receiving threats from “a person” at a get-together.

Pistorius reported the man to the hawks who brought him in.

The athlete then spoke of how in 2007 he bought his property in Pretoria East at Silver Woods Country Estate.

He also recounted how a family were held up in their home on the estate, and how other homes were also broken into.

“I was aware of the crime we had in our area,” said Pistorius.

In December 2012, he had gone to look at a Joburg property, because of his relationship with Reeva Steenkamp. He said he'd considered buying a place in Joburg because he'd been “bowled over” by the model.

He placed an offer on the house, which was accepted, and in January he brought in a builder to determine what needed to be repaired.

The athlete was then asked to provide details on his three dogs, a jack russel, a bull terrier and a pit bull. According to Pistorius, they were all very friendly and were comfortable around strangers, but he got the terrier after an attempted break in.

Pistorius said he even had a video of the dogs licking the police who had come to take crime scene photos at his home.

The athlete also said his Christianity was important to him. He said Steenkamp had also bolstered his faith, as she prayed for everything, from training to “the small things in life”. When he spoke of how they prayed together, Pistorius' face became red and his voice quivered.

He said that his religion had helped him get through the past year, and that he was extremely exhausted since the incident.

Earlier, the athlete requested the opportunity to apologise to the steenkamp family.

Fighting back tears, he said: “there hasn't been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven't thought about her family.”

“They're the first people I pray for,” he said, looking towards the family in the gallery, acknowledging their sadness.

“I cant imagine their pain, sorrow...”

“I can promise that when she went to bed that night, she felt love.”

He told the court he'd been on anti-depressant medication since the incident. He said he'd been having trouble sleeping, and plagued by memories of the night. Pistorius said he would wake up terrified, and at times would rather stay awake than be awoken in such shock.

The Star