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Oscar Pistorius tells court of night he shot Reeva Steenkamp

By Maria Tadeo and Tom Peck

A tearful Oscar Pistorius removed his prosthetic legs and stood in front of the door where he shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the most dramatic scene at his murder trial yet.

A tearful Oscar Pistorius removed his prosthetic legs and stood in front of the door where he shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the most dramatic scene at his murder trial yet.


Pistorius changed clothes and stripped off his prosthetic legs, struggling to move and maintain balance on his stumps, as he sought to demonstrate his walking ability without them.


The athlete broke down as he returned to the witness box, recounting the events leading up to Ms Steenkamp's death on Valentine's Day last year.


He told Pretoria's High Court he heard a window sliding open in his bathroom in the middle of the night, convincing him an intruder was inside the house and that he needed to arm himself and "protect Reeva".


"That's the moment that everything changed," he said. "I thought that there was a burglar that was gaining entry to my home."


The athlete said the room was completely dark, except for a small LED light, and he was alarmed by the sound of a door slamming shut as he made his way along the passage leading to the bathroom.


"Just before I got to the bathroom, I heard a door slam. It could only have been the toilet door," he said. "It confirmed that there was a person or people inside the bathroom at that time."


He told Ms Steenkamp to go downstairs and call the police.


He added: "I was overcome by fear. I screamed at the person to get out. I screamed at Reeva. I was constantly aware this person could come at me at any time. I did not have my legs on. Just before I got to the bathroom, I stopped shouting."


Earlier in his evidence, Pistorius described that he had locked the bedroom door, as he did "every" night, and placed his cricket bat, which he later used to smash down the toilet door, against it. He had taken his prosthetic legs off so they "could air" and placed them close to him.


The athlete told the court Ms Steenkamp cooked him dinner and they ate together at around 7pm. He went to his room just before 8pm and opened the balcony because it was "very humid".


Ms Steenkamp "jumped in bed" and they talked for a while. Pistorius then called his cousin on the phone and Ms Steenkamp starting practicing yoga.


He continued: "Every now and then, Reeva would get up and give me a kiss. Reeva then walked to the bathroom.


"She called me to come and brush my teeth. She went back to the bedroom. When I came back she was lying in the middle of the bed."


The athlete said he fell asleep between 9pm and 10pm.


He woke up in the early hours of 14 February because it was "extremely warm" in the bedroom. He had asked Ms Steenkamp to bring the fans in and close the door. He said the door was open, but the lights were off.


He added: "I noticed that the fans were still running and the door was still open. Reeva was still awake. She rolled over to me and said 'Can't you sleep my baba?'", to which he replied: "No I can't, not tonight".


He grabbed a fan, locked the sliding doors and then drew the curtains. Pistorius returned to the room and heard the sound of "window sliding open". The athlete told he court he froze at that point and interpreted the noise as if someone had climbed inside the house from the bathroom window.


Earlier, Pistorius told his murder trial he was "besotted" with Reeva Steenkamp as he returned to the witness stand to answer questions about the text messages they had sent each other before her death.


The athlete began by reading a conversation from the mobile messaging service WhatsApp, in which the couple argued over an incident that took place at an engagement party, where he accused her of flirting with other men and demanded they leave early.


Ms Steenkamp said she felt "picked on" and she was "sometimes scared" of him in late January.


Referring to the message, Pistorius said: "My lady we were at an engagement party. It was a bad day in our relationship."


The athlete told the court he saw the model speaking to a man he didn't know and felt "insecure and jealous". Pistorius said he "wasn't kind" to her as he "should have been".


He said the couple had some disagreements but insisted they were in a loving relationship, and often exchanged messages of affection and compliments. He often referred to her as "my angel".


Pistorius told the court he was "besotted" with Ms Steenkamp and suggested he was "more into her" at times, than she was into him. He said the model and law graduate understood his needs as an athlete and was very supportive of him.


For two hours, Pistorius sat on the stand, occasionally holding back tears, reading out page after page of Whatsapp messages shared between the pair, as his defence counsel Barry Roux sought to portray a loving couple in a loving relationship.


He also spoke of the first time he met Ms Steenkamp in November 2012. He denied he had cheated on former girlfriend, Samantha Taylor,  when he met Ms Steenkamp, saying the previous relationship had ended. At the start of the trial, the 20-year old student and part-time model claimed Pistorius had cheated on her with Ms Steenkamp.


Soon after, Ms Taylor posted, and then deleted, a tweet saying: "Last lies you get to tell. You better make it worth your while".


Yesterday, an emotional Pistorius began his testimony by apologising to the Steenkamp family.


“I will start my evidence by tendering an apology,” he said. “I would like to apologise to Mr and Mrs Steenkamp, her family and friends.”


“I can’t imagine the pain and the sorrow and the emptiness I have caused you and your family.


"You're the first people I think of when I wake up. You're the first people I pray for. I was trying to protect Reeva. When she went to bed that night, she felt loved."

Pistorius revealed that he has been taking anti-depressants since the accident happened, and other medication to help him sleep at night.


"I'm scared to sleep,” he said tearfully. “I have terrible nightmares about what happened that night. I can smell blood. I wake up terrified."

The athlete told the court he witnessed numerous break-ins growing up in South Africa, was attacked at a party and claimed to have been followed by a car into his gated community and shot on the highway.


Defence counsel Barry Roux secured an early adjournment arguing Pistorius was distressed and exhausted. Pistorius told the court he was "tired" and his thoughts were "overbearing".


Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Steenkamp, claiming he shot the model by mistake thinking she was an intruder in his home. Prosecutors argue he intentionally shot and killed the 29-year old model following a domestic dispute.


There are no juries at trials in South Africa and Pistorius's fate will ultimately be decided by Judge Masipa, assisted by two assessors.


The case continues.

Source: Independent

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