Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius is inconsolable in court as he maintains the shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was a tragic accident – but the prosecution says it was premeditated murder.
Oscar Pistorius wept continually as his legal team outlined his version of how his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, was shot and killed last week.
“I had no intention to kill my girlfriend,” the affidavit from Pistorius read, adding that he was “mortified” at the death of his “beloved Reeva”.
Pistorius said the pair had gone to bed and fallen asleep next to each other, adding that they were “deeply in love”.
He said that in the early hours of the morning he had woken up and gone to get a fan, and realised that someone was in the bathroom.
I cannot bear to think of the suffering I have caused her and her family, knowing how much she was loved. Oscar Pistorius
“I felt a sense of terror rushing over me,” his statement said. “As I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable, I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself. I believed that when the intruder/s came out of the toilet we would be in grave danger…
“I fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to Reeva to phone the police. She did not respond. Everything was pitch dark in the bedroom and I was still too scared to switch on a light. Reeva was not responding.
“When I reached the bed, I realised that Reeva was not in bed. That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet.”
Pistorius said he used a cricket bat to break into the bathroom, where he found Reeva still alive. He said he phoned for help and carried her downstairs, where she died in his arms.
“I cannot bear to think of the suffering I have caused her and her family, knowing how much she was loved. I also know that the events of that tragic night were as I have described them and that in due course I have no doubt the police and expert investigators will bear this out.”
Oscar Pistorius inconsolable – his eyes red. Lawyer hugs him – whispers into his ear. Brother strokes his back. But he is still inconsolable
— Rohit Kachroo (@RohitKachrooITV) February 19, 2013
However, prosecutors at the bail hearing said instead that Pistorius had shot and killed his girlfriend in cold blood. They are arguing that it was a premeditated killing, a crime which has a life sentence in South Africa.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Pistorius had put on his artificial legs and walked to the bathroom before firing four handgun rounds into the locked bathroom door.
If I arm myself, walk a distance and murder a person, that is premeditated. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel
Mr Nel said: “If I arm myself, walk a distance and murder a person, that is premeditated. The door is closed. There is no doubt. I walk seven metres and I kill. The motive is ‘I want to kill’. That’s it.”
The magistrate, Desmond Nair, has said he cannot rule out planning for the killing and as such will consider it as a premeditated murder, a so-called “schedule six” offence, rather than the less serious schedule five – at least for the purpose of the bail hearing. The court will reconvene tomorrow.
Pistorius’s court appearance coincides with the funeral of Ms Steenkamp, taking place in Port Elizabeth. Friends and family paid tribute to the model and law graduate, but there was anger amid the sorrow.
“She was an angel. She was so soft, so innocent. Such a lovely person. It’s just sad that this could happen to somebody so good,” said Gavin Venter, an ex-jockey who worked for Steenkamp’s father.
“I’m disgusted with what he did. He must be dealt with harshly,” he added. “Without a doubt he’s a danger to the public. He’ll be a danger to witnesses. He must stay in jail.”
After the hour-long private ceremony in the cream-coloured hill-top church, Steenkamp’s brother Adam and uncle Mike, fighting back tears, spoke briefly to reporters.
“There’s a space missing inside all the people that she knew that can’t be filled again,” Adam Steenkamp said. “We are going to keep all the positive things that we remember and know about my sister. We will miss her.”