OSCAR Pistorius teetered pathetically on his stumps in front of a packed court room today in a desperate bid to convince the judge he was too vulnerable to have murdered his girlfriend intentionally, The Sun reports. The star of the London Olympics looked humiliated and distressed as he was asked to remove his prosthetic limbs and expose his stumps to the televised hearing which will decide what punishment he will face.
There was an awkward moment when Barry Steenkamp was forced to stand to make way for his daughter’s killer as he left the dock for the dramatic demonstration. Pistorius is facing at least 15 years in jail for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp. He is set to be sentenced on Wednesday 6 July.
His t-shirt wet with sweat and his red eyes filled with tears, Pistorius paused at the side of the court to remove his prosthetic limbs in the full view of the packed court. The spectacle of the one-time sporting superstar tottering across the court room prompted a number of family members, fans and members of the public to break down in tears.
Loud sobs echoed around the wood-pannelled room as all eyes watched Pistorius move unsteadily, and much dramatically reduced in height, towards the front of the court.As he struggled to stand still in front of the judge, and in the glare of live television coverage, a cameraman had to step forward to support him.
His therapist leapt to his aid, guiding him towards the front bench of the court which he clutched to maintain his balance. Pistorius, 29, appeared so humiliated by the demonstration that he could only stare at the floor, tears flooding down his cheeks, as his lawyer told the court how he did not wish ’to hide behind his fame’.
When the strain of tottering became too much, he knelt down, before wiping his eyes with a tissue passed to him by one of his legal team. Pistorius’ sister Aimee, and his close friend Jenna Edkins, wiped tears from their eyes at the excruciating demonstration of the athlete’s vulnerability.
What is Oscar Pistorius’s disability?
Pistorius was born without fibulas, or calf bones. At 11-months-old, his parents made the difficult choice to have both of his legs amputated below the knee, enabling him to be fitted with prosthetic legs. Doctors told his parents that the operation would be less traumatic before their son learned to walk.
During his evidence in the witness box, Pistorius described the discomfort of wearing prosthetic legs, or his iconic carbon blades, and the sores that he had to tend on a regular basis. His sentencing hearing heard how his stumps became infected while in jail.
State attorney Gerrie Nel said he would support Mr Steenkamp’s demand for the ‘world to see’ the extent of Reeva’s injuries, with the ban to be lifted on publishing pictures of her bullet-riddled body.
“Isn’t it time for the world to see what Oscar Pistorius did with Black Talon rounds to Reeva Steenkamp’s head?” he told the court, referring to the expanding bullets used by Pistorius in the killing. The deadly ammunition is used by the military and designed to expand upon impact, wreaking devastating damage to the flesh it strikes.
He also questioned Pistorius’ claim of remorse, despite giving no consistent explanation for what happened on the night Reeva was shot dead. “Remorse without a credible explanation is impossible – remorse for what?’ he demanded to know.
“There is a difference between I am very sorry Reeva is dead and I am sorry for myself that Reeva is dead,” Mr Nel argued. Challenging the defence’s request to spare Pistorius a return to jail and hospitalising him instead said was too far from the prescribed sentence for murder which is 15 years.
As he closed his argument, urging the judge to send Pistorius back to jail to serve South Africa’s minimum 15 year sentence for murder, Mr Nel said he was applying for graphic crime scene pictures – which showed Reeva’s bloodied, broken body – to be made public.
He said he had consulted with Barry and June Steenkamp during the lunch break and they confirmed they were willing for the gruesome images to be shared. The application immediately prompted the runner’s family and supporters to shake their heads, and clutch one another in horror.
The killer himself, slumped forward in the dock, grasping his red face in his hands at the suggestion. And his brother Carl was prompt to express his disgust at the prosecutor’s application.
“I want the world to see. I want the world to see the photos of the wounds inflicted on her. To know my daughter’s pain. To know what her last few seconds were like, so that this is stopped – so that others do not have to go through this ever,” he said, sobbing, in an emotionally charged testimony.
Once again Mr Nel attacked the disabled runner’s decision to give a television interview this week, rather than speak to the court and asked the judge to consider his decision in “a negative view.”
Kim Martin, who testified as her cousin’s “voice” told the court how “every celebration” had “become a funeral” in the wake of the fatal shooting three years ago. The mum-of-three told Pretoria’s High Court that “every single day, no day goes by where I don’t think about her.”
She added: “I am coping, getting on with my life, but the scars and the effects runs very, very deep. We will never get over it, but I am the mother of three children, I have to give them hope for the future.” Pistorius is facing a minimum of 15 years behind bars for the murder of his 29-year-old girlfriend after an earlier manslaughter conviction was overturned.
Martin, whose father is the brother of Reeva’s father, told Judge Thokozile Masipa how Valentine’s Day was a painful time for her devastated family. “It’s the worst day for us,” she said. Watched from the dock by Pistorius, the witness said “it was very unfair” that the one-time hero had chosen to give a television interview rather than speak at this week’s proceedings.
She said: “I am not happy about that at all, its very unfair to want to talk to the world when you have had the opportunity in court to do so. It’s hurtful and I can’t understand why.” Pistorius watched her keenly from the dock, in contrast to Barry Steenkamp whose evidence he could barely bring himself to look.
She described the “guilt” of her uncle Barry – who gave a moving testimony to the court yesterday – who had been left ‘broken’ by his terrible loss. She said: “He is a broken man, he lives day to day on his phone watching the posts about Reeva. He has the guilt of a father not being able to protect his daughter, it is very difficult for him.”
During brief cross-examination, the sprinter’s lawyer Barry Roux told the dead woman’s cousin that although he had not subjected her uncle to questioning, “There comes a point when we have to draw a line.”
He then proceeded to read from interviews close friends of the model’s had given in the days and months after her murder in which they had spoke positively about Pistorius and his relationship with Reeva. Since then however, the double amputee had become “a villain” and everyone had changed their versions, he added.
He quoted from an interview with Reeva’s close friend Samantha Greyvenstein, who told a reporter, “she told me Oscar was amazing and he treated her like gold. She told me she really liked Oscar …. She often mentioned how happy she was,” the court heard. Mrs Martin is the final live witness at the hearing and Mr Roux is now arguing before the judge about why Pistorius should be given a lesser sentence than prescribed.
Arguing for a reduction in the recommended 15 year sentence, Mr Roux told the judge that “substantial and compelling evidence allowing for deviation from minimum.” He referred to the case of a former Springbok rugby player, Vleis Visagie, who accidentally shot and killed his own daughter, also believing she was an intruder, did not even stand trial.
Mr Roux argued that his client wanted to devote the rest of his life to charity work through the church. “He’s done wrong and he wants to put back,” he said.
All medication brought into the prison has to be approved by the doctor. On another occasion in March 2015, she said the sprinter screamed and shouted at her as she went about her morning rounds. When asked by the defence if she considered Pistorius to be violent, she said: “Yes, sometimes he could [be violent].”
But defence lawyer Barry Roux argued that the prison nurse was exaggerating her tale for the court.Roux clarified with her that the sprinter actually banged a notepad onto the table, and not his fist.An emotional Barry Steenkamp returned to court today to watch the continuation of the sentencing hearing.