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Pistorius: 'No Forensic Evidence For Murder'

Thursday, 21st February 2013 04:55

There is no forensic evidence to prove that Oscar Pistorius murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, the Olympian's lawyer has told the court.

Barry Roux, acting for Pistorius, on Thursday attempted to pick apart the prosecution's claims arguing that the athlete better known as Blade Runner should be granted bail.

He said that the quality of the police evidence against the 26-year-old was poor and exposed "disastrous shortcomings" in the case.

Mr Roux outlined his case on the third day of Pistorius' bail hearing as the sporting hero sobbed in the dock.

Speaking from the court in Pretoria, Sky's Alex Crawford said: "He (Mr Roux) has started going point-by-point through each of the charges, or points, that the state has made as to why he (Pistorius) should not get bail.

"He has basically tried to steer the magistrate towards thinking that Oscar Pistorius has exceptional circumstances why he should be granted bail."

The defence also pointed out that:

:: Pistorius tried to save Miss Steenkamp's life by carrying her downstairs and calling Netcare.

:: Pistorius didn't know the toilet door was locked when he shot - addressing the prosecution question over why a burglar would lock themselves in the bathroom.

:: Lead investigating officer Hilton Botha "did not show honesty" when giving evidence.

:: Botha tailored his evidence to incriminate Pistorius as much as possible.

:: Pistorius and Miss Steenkamp had a loving relationship and the prosecution had not proved otherwise.

:: If Pistorius had waited for police to arrive after Miss Steenkamp's death, why would he abscond now?

Magistrate Desmond Nair asked Mr Roux: "Do you think there will be shock if the accused is released?"

Mr Roux replied: "No, after hearing his defence I think there will be shock if he's not."

The defence laid out its case amid scenes of high drama as proceedings were halted because of a "threat outside the court". However, no threat emerged and the court reconvened with no explanation from the magistrate over the adjournment.

Responding, the prosecution said:

:: He fired four shots so it was clear that Pistorius planned to kill someone.

:: Asked why he had not woken his girlfriend to ask her if she had heard and intruder?

:: Questioned why Miss Steenkamp had taken her mobile phone with her to the toilet at 3am.

The court has been adjourned and will reconvene on Friday.

Later in the day, the lead detective in the case, Hilton Botha, was dropped following revelations that he is facing charges of attempted murder himself.

Under cross-examination on Wednesday, Botha was accused of contaminating the crime scene in the Paralympic star's home and backtracked on key details, including the distance of witnesses from the house.

In his often confused testimony, Botha, who was described as a 24-year police veteran with 16 years experience as a detective, conceded that police had left a 9 mm slug from the shots that killed Miss Steenkamp inside a toilet at the scene.

Police also lost track of illegal ammunition found inside the house, Botha said, and the detective himself walked through the crime scene without wearing protective shoe covers, potentially contaminating the area.

He also claimed in court that police found boxes of testosterone and needles in Pistorius' bedroom following the Valentine's Day shooting last week, but then said later he wasn't sure what the exact name of the substance was.

Miss Steenkamp, 29, was hit by three bullets - one in the head, the hip and arm, Pretoria Magistrates Court heard.

Pistorius has admitted shooting the model with a 9mm pistol pulled from under his bed, but claims he did so thinking she was a burglar who was in the bathroom.

After realising his mistake, he said he broke down the door with a cricket bat and carried her downstairs.

As today's hearing started, Nike confirmed that it had suspended its endorsement contract with Pistorius.

A spokesman said: "We believe Oscar Pistorius should be afforded due process and we will continue to monitor the situation closely."

:: The family of the athlete have devoted his official website to updates about the bail hearing and messages of support.

"We will issue at least two statements a day, in order to provide the media with the freshest news, taking into account the time differences," said Janine Hills, the chief executive of Vuma corporate reputation management.

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