A man's life is at stake - Oscar's lawyer

2014-03-05 12:53
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Oscar Pistorius in court - day 3

It's day three of Oscar Pistorius's trial in the North Gauteng High Court. See pictures from the courtroom here.

Pretoria - Paralympian Oscar Pistorius's lawyer on Wednesday tried to inject doubt into a State witness's statement that he heard gunshots, telling him "a man's life is at stake".

Charl Johnson had told the North Gauteng High Court that he heard gunshots from a Pretoria townhouse 177m from his own in the early hours of 14 February.

"I understand your believing that the noises you heard were gunshots," Barry Roux, for Pistorius, said to Johnson.

Once he had subsequently learnt that the sounds had come from Pistorius's home, and that he shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, it would "cement your belief", Roux said.

"But there are problems with your belief... A man's life is at stake."

Roux had been suggesting that the shots Johnson said he heard were in fact Pistorius breaking down the door of his toilet with a cricket bat after Steenkamp, who was behind it, was shot.

Witnesses biased

Roux accused Johnson of tailoring his testimony to fit that of his wife, Michelle Burger, and prejudice the athlete accused of murdering his girlfriend.

Johnson has told the court  that the couple were woken by a woman's anguished screams on the night Reeva Steenkamp died.

Roux charged that the soft-spoken IT expert had failed to give the court an independent version of what he heard in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year.

"You have not favoured the court with a strong, independent version," Roux told Johnson.

"What worries me... This court really is entitled... that witnesses come to court not contaminated. Maybe you and your wife should have stood together in the witness box."

Judge Thokozile Masipa intervened and asked Roux: "Aren't you going a bit far?"

Roux conceded and dropped that line of questioning.

But he has consistently tried to cast doubt on the credibility of the couple.

The witnesses have all requested that their faces not be photographed or shown on television.

But on Wednesday, Johnson revealed that he had received a number of distressing messages after his cellphone number was read out in court on Tuesday.

One message inquired why he was lying about what happened on the night that Pistorius shot Steenkamp.

Tightened security

Around two hours after hearing the screams and shots, began taking measurements around his home in preparation for a security upgrade.

He said while they did not have the details of what had happened, they had thought that a robbery had occurred at Pistorius's home and that Pistorius had perhaps been shot.

Johnson said he had not at first discussed the security plans with his wife.

"I'm the man of the house so I took my own initiative," he said.

Delivering her evidence-in-chief on Monday and Tuesday, Burger said they had always believed they lived in a secure area.

They live at the Silver Stream Estate, which is next to Silver Woods Country Estate, the complex where Pistorius shot and killed Steenkamp.

Johnson later stood down and boxer Kevin Lerena took the stand, before court was adjourned for lunch.

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

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