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Pistorius tried to revive Steenkamp, says neighbour

Emsie Ferreira

In a dramatic testimony, a neighbour of Oscar Pistorius has told a court that he found the athelete crying next to the dying Reeva Steenkamp.

Oscar Pistorius in the high court in Pretoria. (Reuters)

Oscar Pistorius cried and prayed as Reeva Steenkamp lay dying in his home, the high court in Pretoria heard on Thursday in dramatic testimony from a neighbour.

Radiologist Johan Stipp said he found Pistorius kneeling next to Steenkamp when he went to the athlete's home to offer help after he was woken by screams and shots in the early hours of February 14 last year.

"Oscar was crying, saying please let her live," Stipp said to questioning from prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

"He was saying he would dedicate his life to God if she will only live."

Stipp lives across from Pistorius's home in the Silver Woods security estate, and described rushing to his balcony, then trying to summon security guards before going to the scene of the shooting to see if anybody needed medical help.

He said Pistorius had his fingers in Steenkamp's mouth in an attempt to revive her breathing but it soon became clear that she was "mortally" wounded.

'Signs of life'
Nel asked him to look at pictures in a file in front of him, and Stipp confirmed that they were of the woman as he found her lying in the house.

He said he knelt down beside her.

"I tried to open her airway and look for any signs of life. She had no pulse in her neck and no peripheral pulse. She was clenching down on Oscar's fingers," said Stipp.

"I opened her right eyelid. Her pupil was fixed, dilated and her cornea was already drying out. To me it was obvious that she was dying.

"I noticed blood in her hair and brain tissue mingled with that."

Pistorius listened to this bent over in the dock, his hands pressed against the back of his head. He has pleaded not guilty to murder, insisting that he mistakenly shot Steenkamp through the locked door of a toilet where he believed an intruder was hiding.

Stipp was the fourth of the Paralympian sprinter's neighbours to testify that they heard shouting coming from his home before the gunshots rang out.

Credibility of neighbour
Before Stipp took the witness stand, Pistorius's lawyer had tried doggedly to force cracks in the credibility of neighbour Charl Johnson, who like his wife, say they heard a woman's anguished cries pierce the night, and fade away only after the shots were fired.

Barry Roux, for Pistorius, suggested that Johnson was trying to cover up the fact that he and his wife had corroborated their testimony to incriminate Pistorius.

"You want to extricate any suggestion that this version was also your wife's version. You want that out," he said, while Pistorius listened intently as his counsel cross-examined his neighbour.

"That is what it's all about," said Roux, waving a copy of Johnson's statement across the court room and asking why it was changed several times.

Roux said one statement said he did not count the number of shots that were fired, but his wife recalled "about four or five shots".

Johnson replied that he wrote it at work where he was probably meant to be doing something else, so he considered it to be a rough guideline. It was his practice to do drafts of documents, he said.

"It's the nature of how I do my work," said Johnson.

"I try to improve the quality of the work that I write ... to use proper English and grammar, " said Johnson, who is Afrikaans-speaking.

When Nel re-examined Johnson, he used his questioning to indicate to the court that though the witness had heard during Pistorius's bail hearing that there were only four shots, he had not tweaked his statement but kept to his original, more vague recollection.

'Please protect me'
Pistorius is also charged with illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, and two counts of discharging a firearm in public.

He allegedly fired a shot from a Glock pistol under a table at a Johannesburg restaurant in January 2013.

The state on Wednesday focused on this episode, calling professional boxer Kevin Lerena to describe how Pistorius had made a friend take the blame after a gun went off in his hand under a table at Tasha's restaurant in Melrose Arch.

During Pistorius's bail hearing, Nel had referred to what happened in the restaurant and suggested it showed Pistorius to be reluctant to take responsibility for his actions.

"It's always me. Please protect me," he said of the accused. – Sapa

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