Nel accuses Pistorius of tailoring evidence

2014-04-11 12:13
State Prosecutor Gerrie Nel cross-examines Oscar Pistorius during his murder trial in the North Gauteng High Court. (Themba Hadebe, Pool)

State Prosecutor Gerrie Nel cross-examines Oscar Pistorius during his murder trial in the North Gauteng High Court. (Themba Hadebe, Pool)

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Pretoria - Prosecutor Gerrie Nel continued badgering paralympian Oscar Pistorius, accusing him of lying and tailoring his evidence, in his murder trial in the North Gauteng High Court on Friday morning.

Nel attacked a claim by Pistorius that he deactivated his alarm after he left his bedroom to go downstairs, after he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his Pretoria townhouse on 14 February last year.

This was to let in Johan Stander, who is in charge of security at the Silver Woods Estate where Pistorius lived, shortly after the shooting.

"Before I left my room to go downstairs I deactivated the alarm," Pistorius said.

He is accused of the murder of model and law graduate Steenkamp.

He shot her through the locked door of his toilet, apparently thinking she was an intruder about to come out and attack him.

Nel pointed out that in his evidence-in-chief Pistorius said he "must have" switched his alarm off.

"'Must have' was never said. Why are you tailoring your evidence?" Nel asked.

"Tailoring evidence" means an accused is adapting his version of events to match the facts the prosecution presents him with.

'I'm tired'

"It was a mistake... I'm tired, My Lady," Pistorius replied in a monotone voice, keeping his eyes on Judge Thokozile Masipa.

Pistorius continued by adding: "I don't have any recollection of switching it off."

"I'm not convinced about your answer. Now I think you're covering up for lies," said Nel.

Masipa then intervened and cautioned Pistorius that he "should be all here".

"So if you are tired and the reason you are making all these mistakes is because you are tired, you must say so," said Masipa.

"The question is are you too tired to proceed. Because you can be at a disadvantage," repeated Masipa.

Again he said he was not tired.

She offered him another chance, emphasising that it was important to him and to the court that he not be tired when answering the questions over minute details put to him by Nel.

Then she asked: "Can we accept you haven't made these mistakes because you are too tired?"

Pistorius replied: "I can accept that, My Lady."


Nel wanted to know why the integrated alarm system he had in his house did not go off when he opened his bedroom door and went downstairs to open the front door to let help in after he had shot Steenkamp.

"I don't have an independent recollection of switching off the alarm but I would have switched the alarm off," he said.

Later he said: "It would have gone off if I hadn't switched it off."

He also suggested that the beams and sensors could have been affected by painting and maintenance work underway at his house.

"My Lady, I didn't have time to think about the alarm at that point," he said.

Nel said people would not have been able to enter his house without the alarm going off, but Pistorius explained that his alarm did not have window connectors so a window could have been opened without triggering the alarm.

He lived in a secure walled estate, common among higher income people in South Africa. He did not have burglar bars, he has testified.

On Nel's questioning he said the open balcony door that night did not bother him.

Read more on:    gerrie nel  |  reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  pistorius trial

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