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.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on