Police in South Africa are reportedly investigating the discovery of a bloodied cricket bat at the home of Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, following the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

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The 29-year-old model was found dead after suffering gunshot wounds early on Valentine's Day in the sprinter's home in Pretoria.

Pistorius was charged with murder on the same day.

South Africa's City Press newspaper claims that sources close to the inquiry have said that police are investigating different scenarios involving a cricket bat – one of which is that her boyfriend used it to viciously assault her.

Speaking to Channel 4 News, Adriaan Basson, assistant editor of the City Press said: "What we've been able to put together is that there was a cricket bat inside Oscar Pistorius's bedroom that was covered in blood.

"This is a key piece of evidence that police will use in their trial.

Bat tested for blood

"The bat is still at the police laboratories where it is being tested to see whose blood is on it.

"A possible version that the police are looking at is that Mr Pistorius may have indeed assaulted his girlfriend before shooting at her.

"This is supported by these injuries to her head.

"What I was told was that she suffered extensive injuries to her head - that in fact her skull was crushed, at the back of her head which was probably not caused by one of the bullets that was hit her from where she was hiding in the bedroom

Mr Basson added that sources close to the investigation told him that claims the athlete mistook his girlfriend for an intruder were not backed up by evidence.

First shot 'not fired from bathroom'

He said: "The first shot that was fired allegedly by Mr Pistorius was fired in the bedroom.

"The bed was crumpled, they clearly slept in the bed before the incident happened."

Pistorius will appear in court on Tuesday for a bail hearing, something police have said they oppose. Prosecutors also say they will pursue upgraded charges of premeditated murder against him, which means the athletics hero could face a life sentence.

Meanwhile Reeva Steenkamp's father Barry has said that the family was struggling to come to terms with her death, but revealed: "There is no hatred in our hearts".