Screams amid firing at Blade Runner home, court hears

 
Frank Dalleres
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MURDER suspect Paralympic superstar Oscar Pistorius could find out today whether he is to be granted bail or faces months in jail awaiting trial for the alleged killing of his model girlfriend.

A South African court heard yesterday how witnesses reported female screaming amid the gunshots around the time of Reeva Steenkamp’s death, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last week.

However the Pistorius legal team cast doubt on the prosecution case with robust cross-examination, and later declared themselves “very pleased” following the second day of the bail hearing in Pretoria.

Magistrate Desmond Nair appeared to lean towards granting bail, casting doubt on the likelihood of a world famous athlete known for his prosthetic legs attempting to flee, and may deliver a decision today.

Pistorius – nicknamed Blade Runner for his distinctive track limbs – denies the premeditated murder of law graduate Steenkamp, 29, at his home, saying he mistakenly shot her thinking she was an intruder.

The 26-year-old, who last year became the first double amputee to compete at an Olympic Games, told the court this week that he fired his 9mm pistol through the toilet door believing Steenkamp to be in bed.

Detective Hilton Botha said yesterday that one witness had heard raised voices at around 2am, while another testified to hearing a woman’s screams in between gunfire and seeing a light on at the property, which is set in an exclusive gated estate protected by armed guards.

Under questioning from Pistorius defence advocate Barry Roux, however, Botha conceded the witness had been 600m away – a figure he later amended to 300m.

Roux undermined Botha further by questioning why police had not seized all of Pistorius’s mobile phones and worn unprotected footwear at the crime scene.

Botha said he believed Pistorius had shot in a downward direction at Steenkamp, backing up the prosecution’s assertion that he attached his legs before walking to the bathroom. Pistorius has said he moved on his stumps and felt afraid and vulnerable when he opened fire.

Pistorius must have known Steenkamp was not in bed because his pistol holster was discovered on her side of the room, prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued. The athlete has said the room was completely dark.