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.

Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey fans rejoice, series five returns later this month
TV
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
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

KS1 Primary Teacher in Bradford

£21000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: KS1 Primary Teacher in Br...

Year 3 Primary Teacher in Keighley

£21000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 3 Primary Teacher in...

Primary Teacher

£100 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of pay, Free CPD : Randstad Education So...

Credit Controller (Sales Ledger, SAGE)- London, Old Street

£12 per hour: Ashdown Group: Credit Controller - London, Old Street A well es...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor