Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Pistorius 'heartbroken' over lover

Oscar Pistorius in court in Pretoria, South Africa (AP)
Oscar Pistorius in court in Pretoria, South Africa (AP)
Oscar Pistorius stands in the dock during his bail hearing at the magistrates' court in Pretoria, South Africa (AP)
Oscar Pistorius's family at the magistrates' court in Pretoria (AP)

Oscar Pistorius is "heartbroken" over the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, his coach said, as the Paralympian began the fourth day of his fight for bail.

"Blade Runner" Pistorius, 26, is accused of murdering 29-year-old model Ms Steenkamp at his home last week but claims he shot her through a bathroom door thinking she was an intruder.

Speaking outside Pretoria Magistrates' Court, his coach Ampie Louw said the athlete was heartbroken by his girlfriend's death, telling reporters: "For me, it's tough to see that. You cannot reach out, sit next to him and say sorry man, this is a terrible accident..."

He said if Pistorius was granted bail, his training would resume, although he will not compete. "I think that will be a very good thing to do, I think just to get his mind clear. The sooner he can start with a bit of work, the better." He added: "He is not going to run nowhere so why not give the guy bail? He must stand trial, and let's do that and get the truth out of it."

The prosecution continued to sum up its case in the lengthy bail hearing, after Pistorius's defence argued he was too famous to flee if released on bail.

The case saw another twist as the lead investigator was replaced after he was charged with seven counts of attempted murder in a case that had previously been dropped. Hilton Botha is due to appear in court with two other police officers in May, accused of firing shots at a minibus which had seven people inside in October 2011.

Summing up for Pistorius, defence advocate Barry Roux said poor quality evidence by Botha had exposed disastrous shortcomings in the state's case. He said he had been selective with what he said and determined to "bolster the state's case", but could not refute Pistorius's version of what happened, which suggested he was desperate to save her life. He said there would be widespread shock if the star was not released on bail.

As the prosecutor continued summing up, Pistorius stood with his head bowed, often visibly emotional in court. Gerrie Nel said the athlete appeared to be treating the situation as "business as usual". He said Pistorius's claim that he thought there was an intruder in the house was part of his planning, and although Ms Steenkamp's murder might not have been planned days in advance, it was planned that night. The prosecutor said the model locked herself in the bathroom either to escape an argument or to escape the gun. He said Pistorius's version of events was "improbable", while the state's version was based on "objective facts".

The prosecutor said Pistorius had the "money, means and motive" to flee if given bail, and described how WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was just as well known but had avoided bail by seeking refuge in London's Ecuadorian embassy. But defence lawyer Barry Roux said it would be difficult for Pistorius to flee as he would struggle with his prosthetic legs, which cannot go unnoticed through airport security, need maintenance and adjustment on a monthly basis, and his own legs need regular medical treatment.

Magistrate Desmond Nair is now expected to make his decision at 2.30pm local time (12.30pm GMT).

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