Evidence makes Pistorius ill in court

By Tom Peck, Maria Tadeo

Oscar Pistorius blows his nose after reaching for a bucket as he listened to cross questioning about the events surrounding the shooting death of his girlfriend. Photo / AP
Oscar Pistorius blows his nose after reaching for a bucket as he listened to cross questioning about the events surrounding the shooting death of his girlfriend. Photo / AP

Oscar Pistorius repeatedly threw up into a bucket as his murder trial heard graphic evidence from the pathologist who performed the post-mortem on the body of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Twice the sound of Pistorius's vomiting caused events to be temporarily suspended during state pathologist Professor Saayman's testimony, as the smell of sick spread around Pretoria's High Court.

The autopsy revealed the 29-year old model was shot in the right hip, the right elbow, and the right temple from a 9mm pistol through a locked lavatory door.

Prof Saayman suggested Ms Steenkamp would not have drawn breath for long after the final bullet hit her head.

The bullets that pierced her body, known as Black Talon, are so devastating in their impact on human flesh they had previously been banned in South Africa, and only recently re-marketed. The ammunition is designed to "penetrate and then mushroom" on impact, causing extensive damage.

Video

Prof Saayman also said that the vegetable matter food found in her stomach was likely to have been ingested within two hours of her death at 3am, which appears to contradict Pistorius's claim that the couple went to bed at around 10pm.

He confirmed Ms Steenkamp was wearing a sleeveless black top and grey Nike shorts when she was shot.

Earlier, Judge Masipa ruled that Prof Saayman's evidence should not be broadcast or tweeted, in accordance with the pathologist's own wishes, as the athlete's murder trial entered its second week.

He had only been speaking for a matter of minutes when Pistorius's defence counsel Barry Roux requested court be adjourned because: "Mr Pistorius has been sick".

Both sets of lawyers had argued for the broadcast of proceedings to be suspended while the court heard what was expected to be "extremely graphic" testimony.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court that Prof Saayman had "ethical concerns" over broadcasting details of the autopsy. Mr Nel said reporting restrictions were needed to "respect the decency" of Ms Steenkamp, her family and friends.

Prof Saayman told the court that "the graphic details have the potential to damage the dignity of the deceased", and broadcasting his testimony would "harm the rights of the remaining friends and relatives of the deceased".

"It goes against the good morals of society to make this information available, to unsuspecting members of the public, including children and other vulnerable people," he added.

Prof Saayman's testimony will still be filmed, and the broadcasters are hopeful that its "benign parts" may be broadcast tonight or tomorrow morning. South African broadcasters fought a lengthy legal battle for the right to broadcast the murder trial.

Security guard at the gated estate where Oscar Pistorius was living, Pieter Baba, recounts his recollections of the morning that Pistorius' girlfriend was shot and killed. Photo / AP
Security guard at the gated estate where Oscar Pistorius was living, Pieter Baba, recounts his recollections of the morning that Pistorius' girlfriend was shot and killed. Photo / AP

Earlier, Pieter Baba, a security guard at the gated Silverwoods estate where Pistorius lived, insisted the athlete told him "everything is fine" in the minutes after the shooting of Ms Steenkamp.

Mr Baba said he phoned Pistorius following reports of a shooting in the early hours on Valentine's Day last year, and not the other way round, as the athlete's defence team, led by Barry Roux, had previously suggested.

During his cross-examination, Pistorius' lawyer challenged his version of events showing the court Mr Baba's police statement where he said Pistorius told him he was "OK"- instead of "everything is fine."

Mr Roux suggested he has evidence, including athlete's outgoing call records, security's incoming phone records and police documents, proving Pistorius called security first but could not speak because he was crying.

Mr Baba insisted: "I'm the one who called first."

"His call was first and your call was second," Mr Roux told the court. "'I put proof in front of you that Mr Pistorius called first."

Mr Baba stood by his testimony arguing that, if Pistorius had called him first, he "would have known something was wrong". Instead, he claims he fainted as a result of the "shock" when he arrived at Pistorius's house and saw the athlete carrying Ms Steenkamp downstairs.

On Friday, Pistorius' former girlfriend, Samantha Taylor, painted a picture of a man who "always" carried a gun with him, was often angry and unfaithful. His lawyer argued the pair were no longer a couple when Pistorius started seeing Ms Steenkamp and suggested Ms Taylor was unfaithful too.

She told the court the South African star was worried about intruders breaking into his house, but, crucially, he would usually wake her up whenever he heard suspicious noises.

Ms Taylor also recounted an incident where Pistorius allegedly fired at a traffic light after he and a friend, Darren Fresco, the same man who passed him a gun that discharged under a table a restaurant last year, were stopped for speeding, and became very angry with a police officer.

Last week, Pistorius pleaded not guilty of 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.

The case continues.

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 28 Jul 2014 17:46:31 Processing Time: 518ms