UK & World News

  • 9 May 2014, 0:17

Oscar Pistorius 'Is Not Putting On A Show'

Oscar Pistorius was not "putting on a show" and seemed genuinely heartbroken after shooting his girlfriend dead, the athlete's murder trial has heard.

Social worker and probation officer Yvette van Schalkwyk said she came forward as a witness on Tuesday after reading reports that the athlete had been "taking acting classes" and that his tears in court may not be real.

Ms van Schalkwyk, who was asked in February 2013 to assist Pistorius at his first court appearance, said he "cried 80% of the time" when she was with him.

She told the court: "What I saw from the first time I saw him was a man who was heartbroken... he cried, he was in mourning, he suffered emotionally."

She said that when she sat with Pistorius in the cells at the time of his initial court hearings he vomited twice and told her he shot Reeva Steenkamp accidentally.

Ms van Schalkwyk denied feeling sorry for Pistorius, saying: "After 24 years in probation you've got empathy. There's a difference."

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said her evidence should be inadmissable because it did not relate directly to the charges - but Judge Thokozile Masipa turned down his objections, pointing out that he had earlier questioned the Paralympian's sincerity.

Anaesthetist Professor Christina Lundgren cast doubt on prosecution claims that Oscar Pistorius had a late-night argument with Ms Steenkamp before he shot her.

State Pathologist Professor Gert Saayman has previously testified that food found in Ms Steenkamp's stomach had been eaten no more than two hours before she was shot dead at 3am on February 14, 2013.

His evidence challenged Pistorius' claim that she ate early the previous evening and suggested she was awake when a neighbour said she heard what sounded like a woman arguing in the house where Pistorius shot her.

But Prof Lundgren said the prosecution case that Ms Steenkamp's stomach should have been empty if Pistorius was telling the truth was "purely speculative".

She explained that before surgery patients are typically told not to eat for six hours to ensure their stomachs are empty.

But she said some ingredients in a chicken stir-fry Ms Steenkamp ate, such as vegetables and fatty foods, could take longer to digest, while her yoga session before going to bed could also delay the process.

Mr Nel worked to eliminate the factors that could have delayed the digestion process in Ms Steenkamp's case, saying that she had not drunk alcohol, smoked or taken medication and did not have an eating disorder.

He said that made Prof Saayman's evidence more probable.

The witness acknowledged to Mr Nel that if Ms Steenkamp had been involved in a long argument that caused her anxiety before her death, the gastric emptying process could have been delayed.

Forensic and ballistics expert Thomas Wolmarans said he found a bullet fragment in the toilet bowl in Pistorius' bathroom that police had missed during their examination.

He told the court about the devastating nature of the bullets fired by Pistorius - describing how they "mushroom" when they hit soft flesh, causing "a permanent cavity".

Mr Wolmarans gave reasons why assumptions about the trajectory of the bullets that killed Ms Steenkamp may not be accurate, suggesting the wooden toilet door could have changed their course by several centimetres.

Pistorius is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, but he claims he shot her by accident.

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