Oscar Pistorius trial: Reeva Steenkamp's mother disappointed athlete didn't 'look her in the eye'


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The Independent Online

The mother of Reeva Steenkmap was shaken after Oscar Pistorius failed to "look her in the eye" at the start of his murder trial in Pretoria on Monday.

June Steenkamp came face-to-face with Mr Pistorius for the first time since her daughter was shot to death on Valentine's Day last year. She said the Blade Runner ignored her presence as he sat in the dock taking notes.

"I wanted to see him and him to see me," she told ITV news. "But he didn't look at me or anything. He just walked straight and looked ahead.

"The whole point was he must see me, that I’m there," she added. "I'm her mother and you know, what happened to her was terrible and I just wanted him to see me there. I'm there representing Reeva."

Mrs Steenkamp said she "wishes she could have been there" to protect her daughter after learning about the trauma and pain she went through. Ms Steenkamp was shot three times, being hit in the head, arm and hip from three bullets from a 9mm pistol.

"I wish I could have been there to protect her," she said. "That’s my child that I gave birth to and it’s hard for me that she’s dead, that she’s gone.

"That was the time I broke down. The screaming...you know. That was my child there that was screaming, that was injured and dying."

Earlier, she had told reporters she was prepared to forgive the athlete despite losing her "precious" daughter Reeva.

"It's actually important to forgive him for me, because I don't want to live with bitterness in my life," she told the Today show. "It would become my whole being. I don't want that."

She was not present in court today when Mr Pistorius broke down after his defence team described the severe brain damage Ms Steenkmap was subjected to after being shot.

The athlete's defence counsel Barry Roux landed significant blows against the testimony of Michelle Burger, a neighbour who claimed she heard Ms Steenkamp's "blood curling screams" followed by the sound gunfire the night she died.

Mr Roux challenged her testimony signalling that the gunshots left Steenkamp's brain so "damaged" she couldn't have screamed. Mr Pistorius wept in the dock and covered his ears with his hands.

"You tell us from 177 metres you could hear that screaming," Mr Roux continued. "It was so distinct, what you could hear, that you could hear increased emotion, increased intensity?"

"That person, who had sustained that amount of brain damage [when the fourth bullet struck her in the head], would have no response, no cognitive function. There can have been no response, and yet you claim to have heard her screaming?" Mr Roux asked.

A second witness, Estelle van der Merwe, a neighbour, told Pretoria’s High Court she heard people arguing just before 2am the night Ms Steenkamp was killed, followed by the sound of what she described as four "shots or explosions".

On Monday, Mr Pistorius pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Steenkamp, claiming he shot her in a case of mistaken identity thinking she was an intruder.

Prosecutors argue he intentionally shot and killed  his girlfriend following a domestic dispute. If convicted of murder he will almost certainly receive a life sentence, with a minimum term of 25 years.