Battle lines drawn in Oscar Pistorius court fight as legal team fight girlfriend murder charge

Bail hearing will see continued attempts by star’s representatives to spare him life sentence

Pretoria

Oscar Pistorius will return to court in South Africa on Tuesday with strong signs that his legal team will fight the charge  of premeditated murder.

Even as further unconfirmed gruesome revelations spilled out from the crime scene at the athlete’s Pretoria home, including that a bloodied cricket bat had been found, the Pistorius family denied that the running star had deliberately shot his girlfriend, the model Reeva Steenkamp.

According to reports, scientists are examining blood found on the cricket bat, recovered from the star’s bedroom. It was also claimed that post-mortem results indicated Ms Steenkamp’s injuries included a fractured skull. Police denied leaking information to the media, but did not deny the claims.

Tuesday’s bail hearing may last into Wednesday as Mr Pistorius’s lawyers attempt to keep him out of jail and magistrates grapple with overwhelming interest from the media. One of the most recognisable faces in sport, the double amputee has so far been held at a Pretoria police station on the grounds of his disability.

There may be no further pictures of the Paralympian after images of him weeping during Friday’s appearance were published despite the court banning cameras. Prosecutors have already signalled that they will oppose bail. It is unclear how Pistorius will plead.

The appointment of a team of high-profile criminal lawyers, a top pathologist and British spin doctor Stuart Higgins – a former editor of The Sun – has stirred comparisons with the OJ Simpson trial and forensic evidence collected from the athlete’s luxury home is expected to be the main battleground at a future trial, at which these are expected to be the key questions:

The case for the defence...

The first hours following the news of Ms Steenkamp’s death were dominated by speculation that she had been shot in a Valentine’s Day surprise gone wrong. Police have insisted that they were not the source for this suggestion but friends and family who spoke to the athlete in the early hours of Thursday morning continue to insist that is what happened. The runner’s uncle Arnold Pistorius reiterated that the track star had not shot Ms Steenkamp deliberately: “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 or indeed any murder at all.”

...and the prosecution

Footage from security cameras at the gated community of Silver Woods has been handed to police. Sources claim it shows the 29-year-old model arriving at Mr Pistorius’s house mid-way through Wednesday evening. Neighbours said there was shouting during the evening. Shots were heard about 3am. Police and paramedics who arrived at the scene reportedly found Ms Steenkamp dead in her nightie on the second floor of the house, suggesting she arrived earlier and stayed the night.

Any other evidence?

Unconfirmed reports suggested that a bloodied cricket bat may have been used in the attack. However, police sources suggested that most items in the bedroom had been spattered with blood. Authorities in South Africa have brought in the same splatter expert who dealt with the murder of right-wing white separatist leader Eugène Terre’blanche in 2010.

Diminished responsibility?

In the hours after the killing, Pistorius was taken to hospital for blood tests. If traces of narcotics are found it remains a possibility that his lawyers may argue diminished responsibility. If successful that would reduce the life sentence that would be a minimum were he convicted of premeditated murder.

 



Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor