The disabled Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, who stands accused of murdering his girlfriend in a Valentine's Day shooting, was involved in a freak gun accident just weeks before Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead, it emerged today.
According to reports, Pistorius, who is nicknamed ‘blade runner’, was dining in a busy restaurant when the gun accidentally went off, nearly hitting a friend's foot.
The incident allegedly happened last month during a dinner with friends and Pistorius’s 29-year-old model girlfriend.
The paralympic star was reportedly examining the gun, which belonged to a friend, when it snagged on his trousers and went off, narrowly missing a friend’s foot.
Boxer Kevin Lerena, who was part of the dining party, told South Africa’s Beeld newspaper: “I got a huge fright, because the bullet hit the ground just centimetres from my foot. I must emphasise that the gun belonged to one of Pistorius’s friends.
“Oscar just wanted to look at the gun, and it sort of snagged on his pants, releasing the safety catch. A shot went off. I wouldn’t call him negligent, it was just an accident. He apologised to me for days afterwards.”
The latest revelations came as it emerged that South African police are investigating whether the murder of Reeva Steenkamp could be connected to the use of performance-boosting steroids.
According to allegations in a British newspaper, officers who searched the home of the Olympic athlete found steroids.
Some reports have also claimed that police have specifically requested that the runner's blood be tested for steroids.
The Sun newspaper claims that a source close to the investigation told them that steroids were found in the runner's home along with evidence of heavy drinking.
According to the paper, police are now investigating the possibility that Pistorius may have killed his girlfriend in the midst of a so-called 'roid rage' - an explosion of aggression and hostility prompted by the use of anabolic steroids.
Some studies have found that use of certain steroids can cause hypomania and increased aggression.
Pistorius is defending himself against allegations he murdered his model girlfriend by shooting her several times in his upscale house on Valentine's Day morning.
Reeva Steenkamp died from gunshot wounds suffered inside Pistorius' home in the pre-dawn hours of Thursday.
Pistorius was arrested and charged with her murder the same day. His family denies he murdered her.
Claims emerged yesterday that police found a bloodied cricket bat at Pistorius's luxury home in a gated housing estate on the outskirts of Pretoria.
Some press reports have claimed Steenkamp, 30, may have had her skull crushed on the night she was shot dead.
On Friday the athlete broke down and wept in the court, with his face in his hands.
His family later denied he murdered Steenkamp and said the state's own evidence "strongly refutes" any possibility of a murder.