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7 things we heard at the Oscar Pistorius trial this week

Reeva Steenkamp was shot as she stood facing the bathroom door and police experts have a tough task against star lawyer Barry Roux.
Mar 22nd 2014, 8:15 AM 23,605 12

THE MURDER TRIAL of Oscar Pistorius was initially scheduled to last three weeks but now it looks likely that it will drag on until at least 4 April.

Despite the often technical and slow-moving procedures, the trial has held the attention of the South African public.

The high profiles of both the accused and the deceased, the appearance of family members in the docks and the battles waged between witnesses and lawyers have created a ‘celebrity trial’. One big enough to have its own, 24-hour station and to top TV viewing figures in the country.

The 27-year-old Olympian stands accused of the pre-meditated murder of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius denies murder charges, claiming he shot the 30-year-old through a locked bathroom door after mistaking her for an intruder.

The court sat for just three days this week, with a focus on Pistorius’s obsession with guns, as well as the police force’s photographic evidence from the crime scene.

Here are the main highlights:

Love of Guns

“He had a great love and enthusiasm for them.”

That was Sean Rens, a firearms trainer talking to the court about Pistorius and guns, on Monday.

During his testimony, he revealed that the Paralympian had ordered a Smith & Wesson 500 revolver (described as the most powerful gun in the world), a semi-automatic rifle and four other guns before the shooting. He cancelled the order about one month after the St Valentine’s Day tragedy.

As part of the ordering process, the athlete had answered “no” to queries about whether he was entitled to fire on someone who simply broke into his house, according to the seller.

Rens also outlined that South Africa does not allow a person to own more than four guns, unless they are a collector or a hunter.

imagePistorius is comforted by his sister Aimee. (Image: AP)

Credibility Questioned

The credibility of the police investigation was seriously questioned during the course of last week as Pistorius’s brutish lawyer, Barry Roux, continuously highlighted errors.

Evidence was mishandled and a watch stolen, the court heard.

That theme was seen again this week as Roux cross-examined police photographer Barend van Staden who documented the crime scene.

The lawyer claimed that police contaminated the scene by moving evidence when pictures were taken.

Roux also tried to discredit the witness by stating that he was with another photographer in the bathroom – but he had said he was alone.

Victim was Shot Standing

The trial heard that Reeva Steenkamp was standing up when she was first shot.

A ballistic expert told the trial that “she was standing in front of the door, facing the door” and that Pistorius would have been at least two feet away.

The first bullet that hit her broke her hip bone, claimed Chris Mangena, who also said that only one of the four shots fired missed – that bullet ricocheted and hit her back, causing bruising but not breaking the skin.

Then she fell on top of a magazine rack in the toilet.

She was struck by two more bullets from Pistorius’s pistol, in the arm and the head, he added. As Mangena testified, Pistorius jammed his thumbs into his ears and Steenkamp’s mother, June, was later comforted by friends as pictures of the scene were shown on screens in the court.

The position of her arms showed Steenkamp may have been trying to shield herself after the first shot was fired, he said.

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There was also evidence heard that the victim’s shorts were in a “normal wearing position” so she was not on the toilet bowl when shot.

imageJune Steenkamp was back in court this week for the first time since the opening day. She sits beside National Congress Women’s League spokesperson Jackie Mofokeng. (Image: PA Wire)

We are still unclear if Pistorius was wearing his prosthetic legs

Pistorius says he wasn’t but the State prosecutors and police experts say he was. Here’s Mangena explaining why he was “”most likely not wearing the prosthesis legs” when he shot”.

He focused on the victim’s position in death.

iPad history included porn searches

There was no browser history on Pistorious’s iPad before 13 February 2013, according to police mobile phone expert Mike Sales.

The searches for that day included Youjizz, free mobile porn; Ford Ranger; Aston Martin; Autotrader SA; Daytona Group and a Morgan Aeromax – that is two for porn sites at 4.30pm and nine for cars later in the evening.


During the course of the week, the athlete’s law firm also confirmed that he would be selling the house where the shooting occurred in order to fund the costs of the longer-than-expected trial.

The property is valued at about 5 million rand (€333,000).

The trial continues on Monday following a two day adjournment.

Additional reporting by AP and Bloomberg

Read: Pistorius ordered six new guns before girlfriend’s death

Explainer: Why do they keep saying ‘My Lady’ at the Oscar Pistorius trial?

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Sinead O'Carroll


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