Graphic photos cause Pistorius to vomit
Photographs of Reeva Steenkamp's face and body were shown accidentally to the court, causing her accused killer Oscar Pistorius to be violently sick for the second time in court. WARNING: Graphic images.PT1M25S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-34q8j 620 349 March 14, 2014
Pretoria: Graphic images of Reeva Steenkamp’s dead body, the pistol used to kill her and the blood-soaked bathroom where she took her last breaths have been shown to a South African court, prompting her killer Oscar Pistorius to once again throw up in the dock.
As the evidence resumed for day nine of the murder trial, Pistorius initially sat impassively as some images depicting blood stains in the aftermath of the shooting were shown on screens set up in the court.
It was still on fire … you just had to pull the trigger
But a few moments later, a fleeting shot of Ms Steenkamp’s slumped, wounded body was accidentally shown to the whole court, including some of her friends and “Johannesburg family” who were in attendance.
Sickened: Oscar Pistorius, wearing glasses to write notes, in the dock on Thursday. Photo: AFP
Pistorius saw the image too, and reacted swiftly, throwing his head forward and covering his face with his hands, leaning onto the dock as he rocked back and forth.
The cross-examination of a forensic expert continued, but soon came the second error from the computer operator - graphic, close-up images of the young model’s head after the shooting were inescapable for those in the courtroom.
The Blade Runner immediately began gagging, and shortly thereafter was seen to repeatedly throw up into his hands.
Witness ... retired police officer Colonel Johannes Vermeulen gives evidence on day nine of the Oscar Pistorius trial. Photo: Getty Images
The court adjourned as Pistorius continued to retch and vomit into a hastily-produced bucket, his sister Aimee rushing into the dock to comfort him.
Mercifully, distraught friends of Ms Steenkamp’s had left the court moments earlier; the first accidental viewing having been enough.
In the adjournment, he was seen angrily talking to his lawyers, clearly livid at the inadvertent developments.
Family of Reeva Steenkamp left the Pretoria High Court after a graphic image of her body was accidentally shown. Photo: Getty Images
It was another dramatic episode in the trial, which enters day 10 on Friday.
The first police officer on the scene, Colonel Schoobe Van Rensburg, was the next witness in the case, leading the court on a photographic tour of Pistorius’ home on the night of the fatal shooting.
The 30-year police veteran and former station commander gave his evidence largely in Afrikaans, although an interpreter engaged to assist him was repeatedly corrected on his translations.
Olympic track star Oscar Pistorius takes notes with a bucket next to him during court proceedings in Pretoria. Photo: Reuters
Col Van Rensburg told the court he had been at another crime scene when he was called to attend the Silver Woods estate.
He arrived at 3.55am to be told by paramedics a female shooting victim had died before they reached the home.
After observing Ms Steenkamp’s body, he saw a tearful and “very emotional” Pistorius being comforted by the estate’s manager and his wife, who told him the Olympian had shot her thinking she was an intruder.
Col Van Rensburg said he ordered the crime scene be secured, and requested fingerprints experts and a police photographer be engaged to record the scene.
Under the guidance of chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel, the court was then shown a series of images from the interior of the Pistorius home, revealing blood spots on cream arm chairs on the ground floor, and smears along a pillar beside the staircase.
Col Van Rensberg said the images depicted “the blood trail we were following”.
Cautiously, the camera edged towards the bathroom, recording close ups of drops of blood on a railing, a trail of red along the carpeted hallway.
Through this imagery, Pistorius sat in the dock concentrating on a notepad on his knee as the court saw snapshots of his life prior to Valentine's Day 2013.
More than 30 pairs of sunglasses in a cupboard referenced his sponsorship by Oakley; plasma TV screens, a large sound system, multiple mobile phones, and a dozen or so watches in a box, all symbols of his success.
Once inside the bedroom, chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked the witness if the scene depicted matched what he saw in the early hours of February 14.
“Yes, that’s what we found at the scene,” referring to himself and his colleague, Hilton Botha who had joined him at Pistorius’ home.
Images of the bedroom where Pistorius says the pair had gone to sleep at 10pm the night before revealed possessions belonging to Ms Steenkamp: a black overnight bag sat on a leather sofa, a black bra and black jeans visible inside. A pair of her sandals were on the floor beside the lounge.
A gun holster was on a bedside table and, as the next photographs showed the scene along a short passage way between the bedroom and bathroom, a bullet cartridge was visible on the floor.
Once in the bathroom, the court could see a scene of total carnage: grey, blood-drenched towels covered the tiled floor; broken wooden panels from the door to the toilet cubicle were strewn on the floor. Atop one towel, the court saw the 9mm Parabellum pistol “with the hammer still pulled back”.
“It was still on fire … you just had to pull the trigger,” Col Van Rensburg said.
An iPhone sat next to it, and he explained that police initially thought there were two mobile phones in the bathroom; but one was just the case to the other.
The final image for the day was of the toilet cubicle where Ms Steenkamp likely took her last breaths, alongside a small wooden magazine rack.
A huge pool of blood could be seen next to the toilet, the seat of which was also stained red.
Col Van Rensburg will likely face a tough cross-examination from Pistorius’ counsel, Barry Roux.
The 30-year police veteran resigned late last year after it emerged Pistorius’ toilet door had been stored in his office for a week or so instead of in the evidence room.
He denies that was the reason he quit.
Lisa Davies returns to South Africa this week to cover the verdict.