Oscar Pistorius trial: Athlete denies he 'picked on' Reeva Steenkamp


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The Independent Online

Oscar Pistorius denied he "picked" on girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp as chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel sought to paint a picture of a self-centered and controlling man who did not hesitate to humiliate the model in public, his murder trial heard.

On his second day of cross-examination, Mr Nel showed the court an emotional text message from Ms Steenkamp to Pistorius on 26 January, just three weeks before she died, in which she claimed the athlete "picked" on her "incessantly" and his behaviour "scared" her sometimes.

"I'm scared of you sometimes and how u snap at me and how u will react to me," she wrote. " I get snapped at and told my accents and voices are annoying."

Pistorius said the she was "upset" and they were having a "rough time " in their relationship, but later talked things out. The prosecution suggested the messages showed the relationship was "all about" Pistorius.

Mr Nel, known as the "pit bull" for his aggressive style, noted the phrase "I love you" appeared only twice in her WhatsApp conversations. On both occasions, he said, they were written by Ms Steenkamp to her mother, June Steenkamp, not Pistorius.

"Never to you and you never to her," Mr Nel said, addressing the athlete.

An emotional Pistorius told the court he "never got the opportunity" to tell Ms Steenkamp he loved her, but insisted that they were in a loving relationship and he did not "pick" on her.

"I never got the opportunity to tell Reeva that I loved her," he said, adding that he "would not tell someone I loved them for the first time over text message". Pistorius began his relationship with Ms Steenkamp in November 2012.

Earlier, Mr Nel accused Pistorius of making a "spectacle" in court and described his courtroom apology as insincere. He told the court Pistorius failed to express his condolences to the family in private, and only decided to approach them at the start of his testimony earlier this week.

"Why would you create a spectacle in court, in the public domain, in the public eye?" Mr Nel demanded. "Why did you put them through this?"

The athlete told the court his legal team had been in touch with representatives of the Steenkamp family, and he believed her parents did not want to see him.

In his apology letter, the athlete said he was sorry for the "pain, emptiness and sorrow" he inflicted on the Steenkamp family after shooting his girlfriend dead through a locked toilet door on Valentine's Day last year.

Mr Nel accused him of being selfish, and insisted his life is just "about you, what's good for Oscar".


When questioned over an incident at a restaurant when a gun went off in public, the 'pit bull' prosecutor accused the athlete of lying in his evidence to the court after Pistorius insisted that he did not pull the trigger.

"It is impossible to fire that gun without pulling the trigger," Mr Nel said, citing evidence given by the police ballistics expert Captain Chris Mangena, which the athlete's own legal team did not challenge.

At the time, Pistorius was passed the gun under a table at Tasha's Restaurant in Melrose Arch,Johannesburg, by his friend Darren Fresco, who testified at the start of the trial.

"I didn't have my finger on the trigger of that firearm," Pistorius insisted, to which Mr responded: it a was "miracle, the miracle that the gun went off without anyone pulling the trigger".

Continuing his line of ruthless questioning, he added: "Did that bother you? That it went off on its own? I put it to you, there is no other way that gun could have gone off than you pulling the trigger. You are lying."

He insisted he didn't pull the trigger, took responsibility for the incident and offered to pay for the damage caused on the restaurant's floor.

Yesterday, the prosecutor shocked the court by showing an extremely graphic photograph of Ms Steenkamp's head wound, which showed a side view of the model's head, with a mass of blood and human tissue on the back and upper parts, and her eyes closed.

He told the court her head "exploded" just like a watermelon, referring to a video where the athlete is seen firing at watermelon in a shooting range and appears to whisper: "It's softer than brain, but f**k, it's a zombie stopper".

Pistorius-gun.jpg"It's time you look at it", he added, urging him to take responsibility for taking Ms Steenkamp's life. A sobbing Pistorius turned away from the television screen and told the court he was "tormented" by the events that took place in the early hours of 14 February.

The prosecutor insisted her death wasn't just an "accident" and asked him to repeat the words: I shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp in one of the most dramatic scenes yet.

"You killed Reeva Steenkamp, didn't you?" he asked at the start of questioning. "You made a mistake? You killed a person. You killed Reeva Steenkamp. Say it. Say I shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp."

Mr Nel accused the athlete of "not listening" to his questions and telling the court well "rehearsed answers" over and over. Pistorius told the court he was telling the truth and was under pressure because his life is "on the line".

"Please answer the questions, don't argue the case," Mr Nel warned. "You will get into trouble."

In a new development, the athlete told the court his bail application had wrongly stated he went onto his balcony to collect a fan. Today, he told his murder trial he grabbed a fan that was on the balcony.

He added: "I never went onto the balcony. I got the fan that was on the balcony. I admit that it is incorrect that I went onto the balcony. I collected the fan from the balcony."

An emotional Pistorius insisted he never intended "to kill Reeva, or anyone else" and discharged his firearm in the belief that an intruder was coming out to attack him. He was scared and wasn't wearing his prosthetic legs.

Pistorius said he was alarmed by the noise of a "window sliding open" and a door slamming shut coming from the toilet. He was scared and wasn't wearing his prosthetic legs at the time.

Earlier in his evidence, Pistorius described the dramatic moments that followed the shooting, after he realised he had shot Ms Steenkamp through a locked toilet door, in what he claims was a case of mistaken identity.

Pistorius told Pretoria's High Court that he put his hand on her hip, where she had been shot, to stop the bleeding and placed his fingers on her mouth to help her breathe.

The athlete told the court Ms Steenkamp died in his arms.

Prosecutors argue he intentionally shot and killed the 29-year old model following a domestic dispute. He maintains he shot her thinking she was the intruder.

There are no juries at trials in South Africa and Pistorius's fate will ultimately be decided by Judge Masipa, assisted by two assessors.

The case continues.