After Oscar Pistorius weeps in the dock, family insists he is no murderer

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Court hears Reeva Steenkamp was shot through bathroom door as details of tragic scene emerge

After a tearful appearance in court yesterday, the first outlines of Oscar Pistorius’ defence emerged as the Paralympian’s family said he "was happier in his private life than he had been for a long time."

Facing a minimum life sentence if convicted, his defence will be fought both in court and in the media after former Sun editor, Stuart Higgins, flew in to represent him. The public relations troubleshooter, who left the British tabloid in 1998, represented the 26-year-old during the London Olympics and Paralympics.

And today his uncle, Arnold Pistorius, said his nephew was "numb with shock, as well as grief."

In a statement to camera on behalf of the family, Mr Pistorius said: "After consulting with legal representatives, we deeply regret the allegation of premeditated murder.

"We have no doubt there is no substance to the allegation and that the state's own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder." 

Speaking of his nephew's relationship with Ms Steenkamp, he said: "They had plans together and Oscar was happier in his private life than he had been for a long time."

Mr Pistorius’ lawyer, Barry Roux, said yesterday the defence required time to investigate in order to “put ourselves in a better position to argue the schedule of the offence”. According to friends of the athlete, his lawyers will attempt to argue the killing was a tragic case of mistaken identity, with the track star thinking there had been a break-in at his home in a heavily guarded security estate on the outskirts of the capital, Pretoria.

And South Africa's Beeld newspaper has reported that the alleged victim Reeva Steenkamp was still breathing when security guards and neighbours arrived at the scene early on Thursday, but was pronounced dead by paramedics who arrived shortly afterwards.

The Afrikaans language newspaper reports that security guards rushed to the house upon hearing the gunfire, to find the Paralympic gold medalist running down the stairs carrying the model in his arms.

Paramedics who arrived shortly afterwards were unable to revive her.

And a close friend, who asked not to be named, said they had received a call from Mr Pistorius soon after the shooting in the early hours of Thursday morning and were told by the athlete that there had been a tragic accident. They arrived soon after at Mr Pistorius’ home to find him with a bloody and unconscious Ms Steenkamp. They were told she had been shot after the runner mistook her for an intruder.

In a packed Pretoria courtroom yesterday, after the magistrate held up proceedings to eject cameras, chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the more serious charge of premeditated murder was being filed.

As the prosecutor spoke, the Olympic and Paralympic star held his head in his hands and wept, briefly earning the sympathy of Mr Nel who asked him to “take it easy” and “come take a seat”. Mr Pistorius’ brother and father both attended the hearing, occasionally leaning forward to give the athlete a pat on the shoulder.

The bail hearing was delayed until next Tuesday and Pistorius will be held in a Pretoria police station rather than prison in what appeared to be an acknowledgement by authorities of the high profile of the accused.

The prosecution made it clear the case against the athlete, known as the “Blade Runner”, will centre on evidence he “repeatedly and intentionally” shot his 29-year-old model girlfriend as she cowered behind a locked bathroom door.

Police claimed they have evidence that Ms Steenkamp arrived at her boyfriend’s house on Wednesday evening, contradicting the notion that she surprised him during the night.

Neighbours have told police that they heard raised voices during the evening prior to the shooting.

One neighbour quoted in the local media said that security guards from the Silver Woods complex had found Mr Pistorius by Ms Steenkamp’s body in the bathroom. “The door had bullet holes right through it,” they told Beeld.

Mr Pistorius, who earned $2million (£1.2m) a year in endorsements prior to the killing, signalled through his agent that he would fight the charge: “The alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms,” the statement read. “Oscar Pistorius has made history as an Olympic and Paralympic sportsman and has been an inspiration to others the world over,” it continued. “Our thoughts and prayers today should be for Reeva and her family –regardless of the circumstances of this terrible, terrible tragedy.”

The shock value of the alleged murder knocked South African President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address off the front pages with one paper headlining: “Golden boy loses his shine”. South Africa’s M-Net has pulled footage of Mr Pistorius from their schedule and a billboard of him advertising the channel’s Academy Awards coverage was removed from the business district of Sandton. Both Nike SA and Oakley SA, which also sponsor the athlete, declined to comment, saying only that they sent condolences to the Steenkamp family.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue