PARALYMPIC star Oscar Pistorius has suffered nightmares and woken up smelling blood since shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year, the South African told a court yesterday.
Pistorius, giving evidence for the first time in his murder trial, also apologised to Steenkamp’s family for killing her, adding that he had been “trying to protect” the model and reality TV personality.
“I’m scared to sleep,” said the double amputee athlete, who faces a life sentence if found guilty. “I have terrible nightmares. I can smell blood and wake up terrified.”
Pistorius is accused of deliberately shooting Steenkamp through a door as she hid in the bathroom of his Pretoria home following an argument in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year. He says he mistook her for an intruder.
He told Steenkamp’s family in court yesterday that they had been in his thoughts, saying: “I wake up every morning and you’re the first people I think of, the first people I pray for.
“I can’t imagine the pain and the sorrow and the emptiness that I’ve caused you and your family. I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I can promise that when she went to bed that night she felt loved. I’ve tried to put my words on paper many, many times to write to you. But no words will ever suffice.”
Asked if he had been exposed to crime before, Pistorius, 27, said he had been followed by a car into his gated estate on one occasion, though the men fled, and attacked at a party in December 2012, leaving him with a head wound that needed stitches.
The trial, expected to run until mid-May, also heard from pathologist Jan Botha on the first day of the defence’s case. Botha rejected prosecutor Gerrie Nel’s criticism of his evidence, saying he was not there to “win the case for either the defence or prosecution”.