Oscar Pistorius trial: Defence claims sloppy police contaminated crime scene

Defence argues police moved crucial evidence at Pistorius' home tampering crime scene

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The Independent Online

The defence in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial again sought to discredit the behaviour of the South African Police Service and show they “disturbed, contaminated and tampered with” crucial evidence at the athlete’s house when they arrived in the early hours of Valentine’s Day morning last year.

Over the course of several hours, Pistorius’s defence counsel Barry Roux led the crime scene photographer Warrant Officer Barend Van Staden through scores of his own photographs which he claimed showed that items had been moved around and disturbed by police officers.

Why, he demanded to know, was there such an apparent “disturbance” in a pile of objects on the bedroom carpet and why had some of them clearly been moved, he asked.

Van Staden has already claimed that once the preliminary set of photographs had been taken, it is common practice to pick up and move objects as part of a crime scene investigation.

Discrediting the work of the police has already come to form a crucial part of Pistorius’s team’s defence strategy.


At one point, Mr Roux was rebuked by the judge after he was perceived to ridicule Van Staden, who appeared not to know which side of a cricket bat would be referred to as the front, and which the back.

“Have you ever played cricket?” He asked him. “Have you ever watched cricket? Have you ever seen anyone attempt to strike the ball with the ridged back?”

Judge Thokozile Masipa told Mr Roux: “You cannot argue with a witness.”

It was the most detailed examination of the trial so far, with Mr Roux demanding to know how a tiny wooden splinter had found its way on top of Mr Pistorius’s gun handle, and how the angle of the mat beneath it appeared different in one photograph from another.

In the morning, Pistorius’s uncle Arnold spoke for several minutes to June Steenkamp, Reeva’s mother, in the public gallery, before telling journalists he had tried to speak to her before but had been unable, and that as a father, “I understand her pain.”

On Monday Ms Steenkamp also spoke to Oscar’s sister Aimee, in the first signs of a rapprochement between the two sides of the long family bench, who have had no contact for the entire first two weeks of the trial.

The court also heard from Colonel Chris Mangena, a police ballistics expert who examined the bullet holes in Pistorius’s toilet door.

It is his evidence that has led both the defence and the state to agree that Pistorius would have been on his stumps when he fired the bullets through the toilet door, and not wearing his prosthetic legs as had been claimed earlier.

The case continues.