Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Pistorius 'thought he shot burglar'

Oscar Pistorius stands following his bail hearing in Pretoria, South Africa (AP)
Oscar Pistorius stands following his bail hearing in Pretoria, South Africa (AP)
Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead at Oscar Pistorius's home in Pretoria (Stimulii/AP)
Reality TV show Tropika Island of Treasure, featuring Reeva Steenkamp, was filmed last year (AP/Stimulii)
Arnold Pistorius, uncle of Oscar Pistorius, makes a statement to the press in Pretoria (AP)
Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp (AP Photo/Lucky Nxumalo-Citypress)
Oscar Pistorius weeps in court in Pretoria at his bail hearing in the murder case of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp (AP)
File photo dated 08/09/12 of Oscar Pistorius after winning his gold medal at the Paralympic games in 2012. A woman has been found shot dead at his South African home. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday September 8, 2012. See PA story POLICE Pistorius. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire
Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius leaves the Boschkop police station, east of Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 en route to appear in court charged with murder. Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius was taken into custody and was expected to appear in court Thursday, after a 30-year-old woman who was believed to be his girlfriend was shot dead at his home in South Africa's capital, Pretoria. (AP Photo/Chris Collingridge) SOUTH AFRICA OUT
Oscar Pistorius, centre, is led from the Boschkop police station east of Pretoria, en route to court (AP)
This aerial image taken from video provided by VNS24/7 on Thursday Feb. 14, 2013, shows the home of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius in a gated housing complex in Pretoria, South Africa. Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been arrested in the shooting death of his girlfriend, police and the woman's talent agent said Thursday. (AP Photo/VNS24/7)
Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius leaves the Boschkop police station, east of Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 en route to appear in court charged with murder. Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius was taken into custody and was expected to appear in court Thursday after a 30-year-old woman who was believed to be his girlfriend was shot dead at his home in South Africa's capital, Pretoria. (AP Photo/Chris Collingridge) SOUTH AFRICA OUT
This aerial image taken from video provided by VNS24/7 on Thursday Feb. 14, 2013, shows the gated housing complex with the home of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius in Pretoria, South Africa. Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been arrested in the shooting death of his girlfriend, police and the woman's talent agent said Thursday. (AP Photo/VNS24/7)
File photo dated 21/9/04 of South Africa's Oscar Pistorius winning the Men's T44 200 metres final, as the paralympian has been arrested after a woman was shot dead at his home. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday February 14, 2013. See PA story POLICE Pistorius . Photo credit should read: PA Wire
Oscar Pistorius Pistorius was possibly one of the more controversial Olympians as officials questioned whether the blades that occupied the space where his legs should be could give him an advantage.  He became the first amputee to compete in the Olympics and won two golds and a silver in the Paralympics.
A woman holds a photo of Reeva Steenkamp as she leaves her funeral in Port Elizabeth, South Africa (AP)
Reeva Steenkamp's casket arrives ahead of her funeral ceremony in Port Elizabeth, South Africa (AP)

South African athlete Oscar Pistorius has denied murdering his model girlfriend and claimed he shot her thinking she was an intruder.

The gold-medal winner, known as the Blade Runner for his prosthetic legs, told a bail hearing the couple were "deeply in love" and he had no doubt the evidence would prove he was telling the truth.

But prosecutors accused him of premeditated murder, claiming he intentionally killed Reeva Steenkamp, 29, in his Pretoria home by firing four bullets through a closed toilet door, hitting her three times.

The bail hearing came as Miss Steenkamp's funeral was held in her home town of Port Elizabeth. Pistorius' lawyer read out a statement in court which gave his client's version of the events that led to her death in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The 26-year-old, who broke down in tears on several occasions, said the pair were in bed together when he woke up and went onto a balcony to bring a fan inside. On his return to the bedroom he said he heard a noise and thought an intruder had broken in through his bathroom window.

Pistorius claimed he was too scared to switch a light on, so he grabbed his 9mm pistol - which he kept under his bed after receiving death threats - and walked towards the bathroom, which contains a toilet with a separate door.

"On my way to the bathroom I screamed words to the effect for him/them to get out of my house and for Reeva to phone the police. It was pitch dark in the bedroom and I thought Reeva was in bed," he said.

"I believed that when the intruder/s came out of the toilet we would be in grave danger. I felt trapped as my bedroom door was locked and I have limited mobility on my stumps. I fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to Reeva to phone the police. She did not respond and I moved backwards out of the bathroom, keeping my eyes on the bathroom entrance. Everything was pitch dark in the bedroom and I was still too scared to switch on a light. Reeva was not responding.

"When I reached the bed, I realised that Reeva was not in bed. That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet. I returned to the bathroom calling her name. I tried to open the toilet door but it was locked. I rushed back into the bedroom and opened the sliding door exiting onto the balcony and screamed for help."

According to Pistorius he then smashed his way into the toilet using a cricket bat, finding her "slumped over but alive". He then phoned for an ambulance and carried her downstairs, but she died in his arms. The defendant said he was "absolutely mortified" by what had happened, but insisted the evidence would prove his innocence.

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