In Depth

Pistorius: witness who heard shouting 'lived 600m away'

Truth about neighbours' distance from crime scene is just one giving factor giving defence lawyers hope

NON-STOP shouting was heard coming from Oscar Pistorius's house on the night his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead in the athlete's bathroom, a court heard today. 

Prosecutors laying out their case against Pistorius on the second day of his bail hearing in Pretoria said they have a female witness who heard the shouting "between 2am and 3am", Sky News reports.

But under cross-examination the police officer leading the investigation said the witness's house is 600 metres from Pistorius's home, a revelation that caused gasps from the sprinter's relatives in the court room.

The court also heard that injecting needles and a substance similar to testosterone had been found by police at the Paralympian's home. But Pistorius's defence lawyer Barry Roux said the drug was a "herbal remedy used by many athletes". Roux added: "It's not a steroid and it's not a banned substance."

The Guardian described today's hearing as a "morning of furious claim and counter-claim" by prosecutors and defence lawyers.

In an affidavit read out in court yesterday Pistorius said he was not wearing his prosthetic legs at the time of the shooting and felt "vulnerable" when he heard what he thought was an intruder in his bathroom. The police officer leading the investigation, Hilton Botha, cast doubt on that claim today. He told the court the trajectory of the shots fired into the bathroom where Steenkamp was killed was downward, suggesting the double-amputee was firing from a standing position.

Botha also told the court:

  • The two iPhones and two BlackBerrys found at the scene had not been used to call the police or paramedics.
  • Pistorius was a flight risk because investigators have found he has a house in Italy and "offshore accounts".
  • Pistorius faces new charges of possessing unlicensed ammunition after police found .38 rounds in a bedroom safe. 

But during his cross-examination of Botha, Roux accused the police officer of "putting the worst possible interpretation on the evidence", The Guardian reports. In a sometimes abrasive encounter, Roux got Botha to admit:

  • He couldn't find anything at the crime scene inconsistent with Pistorius's claim that he shot Steenkamp by accident.
  • He had not actually checked Pistorius's phone to see if the athlete had called a hospital after the shooting.
  • He didn't read "the whole name" on the drugs found at Pistorius's house before he claimed that testosterone had been found (the substance was in fact testoconpasupium).

The hearing continues.

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