Oscar Pistorius trial: Athlete asked friend to 'take the blame' after firing gun in restaurant

Athlete allegedly asked friend to 'take the blame' in wake of gun accident at a restaurant

Pretoria

Oscar Pistorius asked a friend to take the blame for him after he accidentally fired a gun at the floor of a restaurant, his murder trial heard today.

Kevin Lerena told the North Gauteng High Court how he had joined Pistorius at a Johannesburg restaurant, along with British Olympic sprinter Martyn Rooney, and another friend Darren Fresco, an associate of the Daytona Group.

Mr Lerena told the court that Fresco's gun fired into the floor as it was passed under the table to Pistorius, having told the sprinter he was "one up" - that there was a bullet loaded into the chamber.

"Then a shot went off in the restaurant and there was complete silence," Mr Lerena said. "I looked down, I was in shock. Exactly where my foot was, there was a hole in the floor.

"I wasn’t injured, but there was blood on my toe. I've never been in a confined area where gunshot has gone off. There could have been a fatality.

"Oscar said to Darren, 'Just say it was you. I don’t want any tension around me. Just say it was you. Please take the blame for me. There's too much media hype around me.' And Darren took the blame for him."

"You can't quote me on those exact words," Mr Lerena said. "But that was the [nature of the] matter."

Mr Lerena said the restaurant owners came over, Mr Darren took the blame, they then paid the bill and left. "I was in complete shock. I never spoke about it again."

The incident forms of the basis of one of three separate firearms charges which Pistorius is facing in his trial, in addition to the main charge of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. He has pleaded not guilty to all four charges.

Mr Lerena, a professional boxer, was in intense training for a boxing match when Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend on Valentine's Day last year, but said: "When I woke up, on the 16th February after my fight I had over a hundred missed calls on my cellphone from media outlets all around the world. There was a story that Oscar had shot me in the leg. I said I wasn't shot.

"A newspapers in the UK had a headline: 'Oscar shoots his pal. I said that's nonsense. I was not shot."

Mr Lerena said he met Pistorius at a track day with the luxury lifestyle group 'The Daytona Group', to which Mr Fresco is closed linked.

"We socialised afterwards. He's an icon and a legend in sport," he said. "To get help from a guy like him was very important. He was going to help me with diet, and a little bit of running."

Earlier, Pistorius's defence counsel, Barrie Roux claimed that mobile phone data shows that the gunshots heard by Pistorius’s neighbour on the night he shot his girlfriend were in fact the sound of the athlete breaking down the bathroom door with a cricket bat, the North Gauteng High Court has heard.

In the witness box for a second day, Pistorius's neighbour Charl Johnson confirmed he had called police at 03.16 in the morning, for 58 seconds, immediately after hearing gunshots.

Pistorius is recorded as having called his estate manager Johan Stander at 03.19, by which point he had broken down the bathroom door, behind which Reeva's body lay - a matter that is not in dispute.

"We can work out the time to the minute when the door was broken down, and that is the time that you were standing on the balcony [and heard the gunshots]," Pistorius's defence counsel Charles Roux.

In testimony that matched that given by his wife yesterday and the day before, Mr Johnson replied he was "certain I heard gun shots."

"I am familiar with the sound of gun shots," he added.

Both Mr Johnson and his wife Dr Michelle Burger claim to have heard the sound of a "man screaming for help", before the sound of gunshots, followed by a woman screaming for help, a version of events that seemingly fits neither with the suggestion that Pistorius intentionally murdered Ms Steenkamp, nor that he mistook her for an intruder.

"One thing that doesn't fit in with your version, is a man screaming for help. That is strange to say the least. You know now that the man shot his girlfriend. Him screaming, for help. It doesn't fit," Mr Roux told him.

Mr Roux sought to discredit Mr Johnson and his wife's testimony, which he said were strikingly similar, from both using the same terminology to describe they went to bed - "between nine and ten", to their descriptions of a woman’s screams "fading".

"It may just be coincidence, Mr Johnson, but that is six coincidences in a row," Mr Roux said.

"I understand that you believe it was a woman screaming. I understand that you believe you heard gun shots. But when you get confirmation that a woman was shot by Pistorius, it cements your belief that it becomes concrete in your mind. Now you genuinely believe it."

Mr Johnson could only repeat his assertion that he was "absolutely convinced that I heard a lady and a man screaming."

If Pistorius is found guilty of intentionally killing Ms Steenkamp he will face a minimum 25 years in jail. If he is found guilty of a lesser charge of culpable homicide - that he did honestly believe an intruder was behind the door - his sentence could be non-custodial, or it could be up to 15 years in jail.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Sport
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
News
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
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

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam