Oscar's expert witness comes up short

By Drum Digital
16 April 2014

The report of the post mortem on Reeva Steenkamp was not properly read by defence expert witness Roger Dixon.

The report of the post mortem on Reeva Steenkamp was not properly read by defence expert witness Roger Dixon, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Wednesday.

Cross-examining Dixon during Oscar Pistorius's murder trial, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the conclusions Dixon had drawn about contusions on Steenkamp's back, caused by her falling onto a magazine rack, were inconsistent with the post mortem report.

Dixon had based his conclusions about the wound on the report and photographs from the post mortem.

"I can only say what I saw in the photographs," Dixon said.

"I looked at [the] description made by Professor Saayman in [the] post-mortem report."

Pistorius is accused of murdering Steenkamp on February 14 last year. She was shot through the locked door of his toilet. Pistorius claims he thought she was an intruder about to come out and attack him. A ballistics expert previously testified for the State that Steenkamp fell onto the magazine rack during the shooting and that the bruises on her back were caused by bullet fragments that ricocheted off the wall.

Dixon said he had attended three post mortems in his life, but not Steenkamp's.

Nel directed Dixon's attention to a page in the report which stated that pathologist Prof Gert Saayman, who conducted the post mortem, found the contusions were caused by bullet fragments.

"You looked surprised. You never saw that?" Nel asked Dixon.

"You, Mr Dixon, just made an inference without reading the document."

Nel said Dixon interpreted what he saw in the report for his own purposes.

"The most irresponsible thing is you refer to a document and don't ever read the full report."

Dixon said he had read the whole report, but a while ago, and had read "a whole number of reports".

Nel asked Dixon what the defence had asked him to do. Dixon said his role changed over time.

"There was no clear statement that you do this and only this," he said.

"I was asked to work out the sequence of events, marks on the door, etc etc."

Regarding the first shooting test, with Dixon missing the second, he said they had not used the same ammunition as Pistorius. The Black Talon ammunition was not available at the firing range where the test was conducted, and similar ammunition was used.

"I was not tasked with sorting ammunition," Dixon said.

He said photographs were taken of the tests, which Nel asked be brought to court.

Earlier, Nel questioned Dixon on his testimony that the bullets that hit Steenkamp as she was standing behind the locked toilet door caused her to move backwards.

"We see this in the movies isn't it? They are shot and fly backwards."

He said it was not possible. Dixon replied that Steenkamp was already moving and the bullet contributed to her movement to the back of the toilet.

Nel asked Dixon to bring literature on the matter to court on Thursday.

He asked for an early adjournment, 30 minutes before the scheduled 3pm close, to familiarise himself with certain reports.

Judge Thokozile Masipa granted his request.

Pistorius also faces three charges of contravening the Firearms Control Act. - Sapa

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