/ 18 March 2014

Oscar trial: Day 12 hears evidence may have been moved

Oscar Pistorius.
Oscar Pistorius.

The mother of slain model Reeva Steenkamp was present in court on Tuesday when gruesome photographs of a cricket bat, cartridge casing, and a bloodstained towel on the bathroom floor were examined.

June Steenkamp returned to the high court in Pretoria to listen to day 12 of Paralympic Oscar Pistorius's trial, who is accused of murdering her daughter.

On Monday, Steenkamp walked out of the court room when police photographs of the crime scene were shown.

The photographs involving the cricket bat were taken on February 14 by witness Warrant Officer Barend van Staden, who is attached to the photography section of the Criminal Record Centre.

Pistorius's lawyer Barry Roux questioned Van Staden about changes in the position of the bat in two different photographs taken at the scene. "It seemed there was movement of the bat, and it was not placed in the same position," said Roux.

Van Staden agreed the bat appeared to have been moved in the different photographs.

Moved objects
Pistorius is believed to have used the bat to bash open the door of the toilet in his Pretoria home after he alleged he shot what he believed to be an intruder in his house.

Other photographs were also shown to the court revealing objects at the crime scene that Roux illustrated had been moved. The start of the case was delayed for more than an hour while Van Staden collected master copies of photographs.

Roux asked Van Staden why he had kept the photographs taken at the crime scene in his cupboard at work.

"As I testified earlier, I was given orders by my provincial commissioner that I should keep all the stuff in my possession," said Van Staden.

The police officer was also told by his boss that nobody should have access to the photographs, he said.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked Van Staden about the movement of the bat. "That bat was moved millimeters, am I right? It wasn't in a different place?"

Van Staden confirmed this was the case, and said the verifications of the crime scene was not done by him but by a clerk.

Captain Chris Mangena, a police ballistics expert, was the second witness to take the stand on Tuesday.

"I was asked to reconstruct the incident scene," he said The bathroom door was placed back in the doorframe, he said.

Mangena established that three bullets had perforated the bathroom door and were likely to have hit a target, while one had ricocheted off the toilet wall. The bullets had been fired in a downward trajectory, he said.

A magazine rack which had been in the toilet was missing from the scene, said Mangena.

Pistorius had been measured to find out his height, with and without his prosthetics, he said.

Mangena's testimony will continue on Wednesday.

Steenkamp was accompanied by family members and sat with the Pistorius family on the front bench reserved for family.

The family support for Pistorius at his murder trial is not dimming, despite it being the the third week of the trial.

Dressed in a light cream jacket and black pants, his sister Aimee clutched her brother's hand as he chatted to her from the dock before the trial.

Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.