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Pistorius found praying over body





















Olympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius with his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in Johannesburg on 26 January 2013









The BBC’s Andrew Harding reports on the latest developments in the Oscar Pistorius trial








A neighbour of Oscar Pistorius has told his murder trial he found the South African Paralympic star praying over the body of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp as she lay dying.

In the trial’s first account of the moments after the shooting, Johan Stipp said he tried to revive Ms Steenkamp.

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

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.”

“Oscar was crying all the time,” Dr Stipp said. “He was praying to God [saying] `Please let her live.’”

Pistorius said he would dedicate “his life and her life to God” if she lived, according to the testimony.

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

The trial has adjourned until Friday.

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.

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“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.


Oscar Pistorius 6 MarchOscar Pistorius cried in court as he heard testimony from a neighbour

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.

The state is seeking to convince the court that Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp had an argument before the athlete fired the shots that killed his girlfriend.


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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