Oscar Pistorius trial: ‘Row before gunshots’ heard

Oscar Pistorius at his bail hearing in Pretoria. Picture: AFP/ Getty
Oscar Pistorius at his bail hearing in Pretoria. Picture: AFP/ Getty
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A WITNESS heard “non-stop shouting” coming from Oscar Pistorius’s home before he shot dead his girlfriend, the second day of his bail hearing has heard.

The witness overheard the “row” said to have come from the property at the Silver Lakes Golf Estate between 2am and 3am on Valentine’s Day, Pretoria Magistrates’ Court was told.

Shortly afterwards, Reeva Steenkamp, 29, lay bleeding to death in the bathroom, hit by three bullets – in the head, the hip and arm – the court was told.

One witness reported hearing a shot, followed 17 minutes later by more shots, lead detective Hilton Botha said.

“One of our witnesses heard a fight, two people talking loudly at each other… from two in the morning to three,” he said.

Pistorius has admitted shooting the model with a 9mm 
pistol pulled from under his bed, but claims he did so thinking she was a burglar.

The 26-year-old athlete said he opened fire in the dark as he was too scared to turn on a light.

Realising his mistake, he broke the door down with a cricket bat and carried her downstairs, he said.

But Mr Botha said one witness claimed the lights were on after shots were heard.

Pistorius, a double-amputee Paralympic athlete known as the “Blade Runner”, has said he shot through the door while on his stumps.

But the court heard the bullets’ trajectory was through the top of the door and Mr Botha claims they were fired down, suggesting Pistorius was wearing his prosthetic legs when the shots were discharged.

He said: “I believe he knew she was in the bathroom and he shot four shots through the door.”

Lawyers and police studied plans of the bedroom and bathroom along with chief magistrate Desmond Nair yesterday.

A projector was used by prosecutor Gerrie Nel to beam the plans up for the public and press to see. He argued Pistorius had to walk past his bed to get to the bathroom and could not have done so without realising Miss Steenkamp was not in the bed. “There’s no other way of getting there,” Mr Nel said.

The court also heard that two boxes of testosterone and needles were found in Pistorius’s bedroom. But his lawyer Barry Roux countered prosecution claims that testosterone was found, saying it was actually a herbal remedy, called Testocompasutium co-enzyme.

Pistorius allegedly told officials he had been a victim of crime and received death threats, but the court heard there was no record of this.

Mr Botha said he also wanted Pistorius charged with having unlicensed .38 calibre ammunition at the house.

The athlete – who sobbed in court yesterday – made notes with a silver pen during the hearing.

In an affidavit, he said he and Miss Steenkamp were in love and he thought she was in bed in the early hours of Thursday when he got up in the dark and blasted through the door.

Cross-examining Mr Botha, Mr Roux said a post-mortem showed Miss Steenkamp’s bladder was empty, which he said was consistent with her getting up at 3am to go to the toilet.

Mr Roux asked why the police did not make simple checks – over the lighting and whether Pistorius had other phones after police said two seized iPhones were not used to call police or paramedics.

The lawyer said Pistorius phoned the housing complex manager for help at 3:19am then Netcare hospital a minute later.

Officers found the victim covered in towels and wearing white shorts and a black top.

The prosecution say Pistorius, who won two gold medals and a silver at the London 2012 Paralympics, is a flight risk and oppose bail. Pistorius, who underwent below-the-knee amputations when 11 months old, has offshore accounts and a property in Italy, it was claimed.

Despite his fame, Mr Botha said he believed he could go on the run, causing laughter in the court. The hearing was adjourned until today.

In South Africa, Pistorius is seen as a hero, as the first Paralympian to compete in the Olym­pics. He carried South Africa’s flag at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Games.

The sprinter’s endorsements and sponsorships included Nike, telecoms firm BT, sunglasses maker Oakley and French designer Thierry Mugler and were thought to be worth as much as £1.3 million a year.

Nike and Mugler both said they have dropped Pistorius from advertising campaigns, and Clarins cosmetics giant said it was recalling its A Man perfume range out of “respect and compassion towards the families involved”.