Screaming man sounded embarrassed - witness

2014-03-06 11:58
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Oscar Pistorius in court - day 4

See pictures from the North Gauteng High Court where Oscar Pistorius is standing trial for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.

Pretoria - The man heard screaming for help the night Oscar Pistorius shot dead Reeva Steenkamp sounded embarrassed to be doing so, the North Gauteng High Court has heard.

"The man almost sounded embarrassed in calling for help... That is the impression I got, it's what struck me," Charl Johnson said to questioning from Barry Roux, for Pistorius.

This emerged as Roux was questioning Johnson about notes he had made about the screams and gunshots he heard from his townhouse in the early morning hours of 14 February last year.

He made the notes on 6 March that year.

He previously testified that he heard both a woman and a man screaming, and maintained this on Thursday.

"I'm convinced I heard a lady scream," said Johnson. "It's easy to distinguish between the voice of lady and a man," he said, adding that it was difficult to accept that it could have come from Pistorius.

Pistorius's home is 177m from Johnson's, the court heard this week.

Roux charged that Johnson was trying to incriminate Pistorius with his version of events.

"There is a design on your side to incriminate." Johnson countered that he had no reason to do so.

Roux grills Johnson

Roux took Johnson to task over changes he made to his statement on what he heard on the night of the killing.

"You want to extricate any suggestion that this version was also your wife's version," Roux said.

"You want that out," he said, as Pistorius listened intently to the softly spoken man in the stand.

"That is what it's all about," said Roux, waving a copy of Johnson's statement, a highlighted line showing across the court room.

Pointing a finger and holding it still in both hands, front showing to Johnson, Roux continued asking why Johnson's statement changed so many times.

On Wednesday, Roux asked for Johnson's original notes about what he heard from his home in Silver Stream, which is next to Silver Woods, where Pistorius has admitted shooting Steenkamp dead.

Different version

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".

"And that is so removed from this musical talent to count shots. It is not the same," said Roux, referring to Michelle Burger's testimony that she could remember hearing four bangs because of her musical training.

Grappling for words, Johnson said he wrote it at work where he was probably meant to be doing other work, so he considered that statement a rough guideline.

It was common practice to do drafts of documents, he said.

Roux asked what he had told the investigating officer Captain van Aardt about the shots.

His own version was there were more than what his wife said, and even after Pistorius's bail hearing where it was said there were four shots, he did not change his version, even though his wife had a different version.

But Roux wanted to know why he dropped the word "about" from a later version in describing what his wife recalled.

He said that he would bring evidence to prove that what Johnson heard "must describe" the breaking down of the toilet door with a cricket bat.

Gunshot sound

Amid a tough cross-examination Johnson said he and his wife had not wanted to be involved in the trial.

"We didn't want to be involved in this matter. We are very private people," Charl Johnson told the court.

He said he and his wife had wanted to find a channel to disclose what they knew and remain anonymous.

Johnson also testified that he owns a firearm and is confident he can identify the sound of a shot.

"A cricket bat striking a door would make a different sound than the sharp sound of a gunshot," he said to questioning from Roux.

"I can confidently say I heard gunshots."

He told the court he owned a 9mm pistol.

Roux has been trying to suggest that the shots Johnson said he heard could have been Pistorius breaking down the door of his toilet with a cricket bat.

Pistorius sat listening to Johnson's testimony, at one point pressing his fist to his mouth, thumb resting on his cheek. A sketch artist stood to the side of the court, focusing his attention on Pistorius's brother Carl.

A tea break was called, with Nel saying he would use it to get a document he needed.

- SAPA
Read more on:    reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  barry roux  |  pistorius trial
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