State prosecutor Gerrie Nel makes a point during the trial
of Oscar Pistorius at the North Gauteng High Court in
Pretoria. REUTERS/Alexander Joe/Pool
Double amputee Oscar Pistorius was standing on his stumps
when he smashed down a locked toilet door to reach his shot
girlfriend, a South African police forensic expert said,
countering the Paralympic star's assertion he was wearing his
prosthetic legs at the time.
Wielding the cricket bat in his hands, police colonel
Johannes Vermeulen knelt down before swinging it at the
wooden door in a court reconstruction to show the angle of
the marks and to suggest they could only have been made by
someone much shorter than him.
The 27-year-old track star is charged with the murder of
model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot through
the locked toilet door on Valentine's Day last year.
Prosecutors want to prove that it was premeditated killing,
but Pistorius says he was defending himself from what he
thought was an intruder who had broken into his
gated-community home in the capital of the crime-ridden
At his bail hearing last year, Pistorius justified shooting
because of the extreme vulnerability he felt because of his
disability. However, in his affidavit he stated that he had
put on his prostheses before smashing down the door.
"The marks on the door are actually consistent with him not
having his legs on and I suspect they must be similar to the
height that he was when he fired the shots," he told the
Defence advocate Barry Roux countered by suggesting that even
with his legs on, Pistorius would not be swinging a bat at
the same height as an able-bodied person.
Close-up photographs of the damaged door were shown in court,
as well as scuffs on the bat autographed by South African
test cricketer Herschelle Gibbs.
Lead defence lawyer Roux later heaped scorn on the state's
evidence, again accusing police of shoddy detective work,
after Vermeulen testified that police reassembled the broken
door with a temporary adhesive.
"The door was brought up from the bathroom in a body bag. The
panels were loose," the police colonel testified, adding he
received both the door and the cricket bat in materially
different condition from how they were found at the scene.
Vermeulen also said he did know where the door had been kept
immediately after it was removed from Pistorius' house.
Roux countered that door was marred by "serious marks" while
with forensics. Pistorius' defence has looking to sow doubt
about the quality of the police work in the case,
particularly around its handling of evidence.
At last year's bail hearing, Roux dismantled the lead
detective on the case, Hilton Botha, accusing him and
contaminating the crime scene.
Botha, who backtracked on details such as the distance of
witnesses from Pistorius' home, was later pulled off the case
when it emerged he was facing seven attempted murder charges
for opening fire on a minibus full of passengers.
Pistorius' lower limbs were amputated as a baby but he
overcame the disability to become the "fastest man on no
legs", winning gold medals at both the Beijing and London
With good looks and an easy smile, he was a sponsors' dream,
but since Steenkamp's killing the accounts of his behaviour
have revealed a dark side to his carefully groomed media
Prosecutors are trying to show Pistorius loved the fast life,
with an unhealthy obsession for guns.
Darren Fresco, a friend, earlier told the court Pistorius had
been driving at above 200 kph when the pair and one of the
athlete's ex-girlfriends were travelling to a resort town
south of Johannesburg in September 2012.
Pistorius' gun lay between his legs and not in a holster when
the three drove back later that day, Fresco said.
Both Fresco and Samantha Taylor, the woman Pistorius left for
Steenkamp, have testified that the athlete shot through the
car's sunroof in anger when a policeman emptied the magazine
of Pistorius' firearm, after they were pulled over for