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'Non-stop shouting' heard from Pistorius home

South African police officer says witness described shouting from sprinter's home before girlfriend was shot dead.
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2013 03:07

A witness heard "non-stop shouting" coming from the home of Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius shortly before his girlfriend was shot dead, the lead detective in the murder investigation said during the second day of his bail hearing.

Warrant officer Hilton Botha also told the Pretoria magistrates court on Wednesday that Pistorius' girlfriend, model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp, was hit by three bullets, in the head, elbow and hip.

Pistorius, a double amputee known as the "Blade Runner", broke down in tears as Botha presented his testimony. The day ended with the bail hearing being adjourned until Thursday morning. 

The shooting has stunned South Africa and the millions around the world who saw the track glory of the athlete, who had no lower legs, as an inspiring tale of triumph over adversity.

"One of our witnesses heard a fight, two people talking loudly at each other ... from two in the morning to three,"
Botha told the court.

However, he later said under cross examination that the witness was in a house 600m away, possibly out of earshot. He cut that estimate in half when questioned again by the prosecutor.

Contradicting claims

Steenkamp was in a locked toilet adjoining Pistorius' bathroom when she was shot in the early hours of Thursday last week.

Botha said the angle at which the shots were fired through the door suggested the shooter had aimed specifically to hit somebody in the toilet.

Botha, who arrived at the scene at 4:15am local time (02:15 GMT) to find Steenkamp dead, also said police had found unlicensed .38 ammunition in Pistorius' house in an upmarket gated compound north of Pretoria.

At one point, Botha told the court that police found syringes and two boxes of testosterone - banned for professional athletes in some cases - in Pistorius' bedroom, but the prosecutor later withdrew the testimony, saying it was too early to identify the substance, which was still being tested.

The defence also disputed the claim. Pistorius' lawyer, Barry Roux, said it was not a banned substance and that police were trying to give the discovery a “negative connotation".

"It is an herbal remedy,'' Roux said. “It is not a steroid and it is not a banned substance.''

On Tuesday, a statement from Pistorius read out in court described how the couple spent a quiet night together in the athlete's home, then went to sleep at about 10pm.

Sometime before dawn, Pistorius said he awoke and pulled a fan in from an open balcony and closed it. That is when he said he heard a noise and became alarmed because the bathroom window, was open and workers had left ladders nearby.

He said he thought Steenkamp was still asleep in the bed as he fired at the closed toilet door.

Projecting a diagram of the bedroom and bathroom on Wednesday, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said it showed Pistorius had to walk past his bed to get to bathroom and could not have done so without seeing that Steenkamp was not asleep there.

"There's no other way of getting there," Nel said.

Botha backed the prosecutor up, saying the holster for Pistorius' 9 mm pistol was found under the left side of the bed, where Steenkamp slept, and it would have been impossible for Pistorius to get the gun without checking to see if she was there.

Follow Al Jazeera's Tania Page, who is at the hearing, on Twitter

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