Published on 10 Mar 2014 Sections ,

Pistorius vomits at graphic details of Reeva injuries

Oscar Pistorius vomits and retches in court on hearing graphic details of the injuries that killed Reeva Steenkamp. The judge banned live broadcast and reporting of the pathologist’s testimony.

The accused was given the option of leaving the courtroom, but he stayed to hear the graphic testimony from the state pathologist.

The microphone was eventually moved away from Pistorius so that his retching and vomiting into a bucket was not so audible to everyone in the court, and proceedings were twice interrupted as the judge checked to see whether he wanted a pause.

His defence lawyer argued against an adjournment, saying a break would not improve the athlete’s state of mind. But the Olympic and Paralympic athlete rocked back and forth with his hands clasped behind his head, trying to block out the testimony and repeatedly throwing up.

The 27-year-old is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year. South Africa’s most famous athlete, a double amputee known as the “blade runner”, denies murder and says it was a terrible accident: he shot her through the closed bathroom door at his home because he thought she was an intruder.

Timeline questioned

Black talon bullets

Professor Gert Saayman told the court that the bullets which killed Steenkamp mushroomed on piercing her body, and were designed to have maximum impact. He said she was shot in the hip, the arm and the head. A fourth shot fired by Pistorius did not hit her body.

Manufacturing of “black talon” bullets (pictured right, courtesy Firearmsid.com) had stopped for a time in South Africa, but they are currently available on the market.

Professor Sayaam also said that Steenkamp had eaten food, including vegetables, at around 1am, a few hours before she died soon after 3am. This contradicts Pistorius’s account of events given during his bail hearing: that they both went to bed at 10pm the night before and were asleep at 1am.

He added that Steenkamp would have been immediately brain-damaged and unconscious after being shot, but did not necessarily die straight away.

Broadcast ban

The pathologist will continue giving evidence on Tuesday at 10am local time, before being cross-examined by the defence.

Professor Sayaam is the first expert to testify at the trial, which has so far heard several witnesses who reported hearing a woman screaming before a volley shots in the early hours of 14 Febuary last year at Pistorius’s home.

Earlier in the day, Judge Thokozile Masipa imposed a broadcast blackout on Saayman’s testimony out of respect for Steenkamp’s family and to prevent viewers from accidentally hearing the details.

Also on Monday Pieter Baba, a security guard at Pistorius’s gated Silverwoods estate, told court that the athlete had told him “everything is fine” minutes after Steenkamp had been killed.

If found guilty, Pistorius faces at least 25 years in prison. There are no jury trials in South Africa, and the verdict will be decided solely by the judge.

The case is the first in South Africa to be broadcast live, but the stream was stopped for the first time on Monday.


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