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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: Senior Developer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: The Company sells mobile video advertising sol...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have a vacancy within our ra...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - 1st Line Helpdesk - West London - £25,000

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - 1st Line Helpde...

Recruitment Genius: Polish Speaking Buying Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Superb opportunity for a BUYING...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project