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Neighbour backs Pistorius defence





















Clockwise from top left, South African State prosecutor Gerrie Nel, Oscar Pistorius, Barry Roux, and media surrounding Mr Pistorius' car outside court









Live coverage of the murder trial of the South African athlete Oscar Pistorius








A neighbour of Oscar Pistorius has told his murder trial he heard the South African Paralympic star say he had shot his girlfriend after mistaking her for a burglar.

Johan Stipp, a qualified doctor, says he tried to revive Reeva Steenkamp but could tell she was dying.

During Dr Stipp’s testimony, Mr Pistorius cried and seemed to wretch.

The double amputee denies intentionally killing her, saying he mistook the 29-year-old model for an intruder.

If found guilty, the 27-year-old could face life imprisonment.

Dr Stipp said he could see Ms Steenkamp’s brain tissue in her hair.

At this point, a police officer passed a plastic bag to Mr Pistorius.

Recalling the night of 14 February 2013, Dr Stipp said he had heard gunshots.

He said he had found Mr Pistorius kneeling by her body.

“I shot her,” the Paralympic star told him. “I thought she was a burglar.”

Dr Stipp said Mr Pistorius had been in an emotional state. Fearing he might hurt himself, he had asked where the gun was.

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Earlier, defence lawyer Barry Roux said that two neighbours, Michell Burger and Charl Johnson, had discussed their testimony with each other and amended the rough notes they had made a few days after the shooting.

“Your interpretation [of events] is designed to incriminate the accused and it’s unfortunate,” Mr Roux said.

Mr Johnson denied this. He insisted that he had heard a woman screaming “help”, followed by a man doing the same.

On Wednesday, a witness said the athlete had been responsible for a weapon being fired at a restaurant last year.

Boxer Kevin Lerena told the court Mr Pistorius had asked the owner of the gun to take the blame after the incident in January 2013.

Mr Pistorius also faces charges of illegally possessing ammunition, which he denies.

Ms Steenkamp, a model and reality TV star, was shot dead in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year at Mr Pistorius’s home in Pretoria.

The arrest of a national sporting hero, who won gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and also competed at the Olympics, astounded South Africa.

There are no juries at trials in South Africa, and his fate will ultimately be decided by Judge Thokozile Masipa.

Much of the case will depend on ballistic evidence from the scene of the shooting, correspondents say.


South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp pictured in December 2012South Africa was stunned when the athlete shot dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp

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