Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Pistorius tearful in court hearing

Oscar Pistorius weeps in court in Pretoria at his bail hearing in the murder case of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp (AP)
Oscar Pistorius, centre, is led from the Boschkop police station east of Pretoria, en route to court for his bail hearing (AP)
Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp (AP Photo/Lucky Nxumalo-Citypress)

Blade runner Oscar Pistorius broke down in tears as he appeared in court accused of the premeditated murder of his girlfriend at his exclusive South African home.

The world's best-known Paralympian was taken into custody on Thursday after Reeva Steenkamp, 30, was shot dead at the luxury gated Silver Lakes Golf Estate in Pretoria.

Pistorius, 26, sat with his head bowed when he was brought before magistrates in the capital. He began to sob, covering his face with his hands, as the charge against him was read out. Chief magistrate Desmond Nair told him: "Take it easy. Come take a seat."

The gold-medal winner, who earned his Blade Runner nickname because of his prosthetic racing legs, was met by a media frenzy as he arrived at the packed court house dressed in a sober grey suit and blue tie. Earlier, he attempted to obscure his identity, covering his face with a jacket and a note pad as he was driven into the precincts.

The track superstar, who was supported by his father Henke, brother Carl and sister Aimee in court, was told prosecutors would pursue a charge of premeditated murder. The hearing came after a two-hour delay while the athlete's lawyers objected to the scrum of local and international reporters who turned out to witness his dramatic fall from grace.

His arrest triggered shock across the globe and prompted rumours that he may have mistaken his girlfriend for an intruder in what could have been a Valentine's Day surprise gone wrong. But police swiftly distanced themselves from the suggestion and said there had been previous incidents of a "domestic nature" at Pistorius's property.

Miss Steenkamp's body was discovered at around 3am, after neighbours reported hearing screams and gunshots coming from the sprinter's home. According to the Beeld newspaper, the model was blasted four times through a bathroom door. Officers said she was shot in the head and upper body. They recovered a 9mm pistol from the scene.

Pistorius will be held at a local police station until his next court appearance. A bail hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday, when police are expected to oppose the application.

The runner made history at the London 2012 Olympics by becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete in the Games, running in the 400m and 4x400m relay. South Africa's M-Net cable TV channel pulled adverts featuring the star off air immediately after his arrest.

Sports apparel group Nike, along with most of his sponsors, said they would not make any decisions until the police investigation was completed. His sponsorship deals - with firms including BT, sunglasses maker Oakley and French designer Thierry Mugler - are thought to be worth as much as £1.3 million a year.

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