Oscar likely on stumps when he hit door - expert

2014-03-12 11:36
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Oscar Pistorius in court - day 8

See all the latest pictures from day 8 in court and the forensic expert giving testimony on how the cricket bat hit the bathroom door.

Pretoria - Murder-accused Oscar Pistorius was probably on his stumps when he struck at a toilet door between him and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp with a cricket bat, the North Gauteng High Court heard on Wednesday.

Police forensic expert Lieutenant Colonel Johannes Vermeulen, testified that he had a consultation with prosecutor Gerrie Nel last November about the door.

"[I] mentioned that marks on the door are actually consistent with him not having his legs on and I suspect it must be similar to the height that he was when he fired the first shots."

His shoulder height was measured at around 1.25m.

Pistorius statement

Pistorius is a double-amputee below the knees and went on to become a gold-medal winning paralympian and Olympic Games competitor using prosthetic blades.

The court has heard that he slept with his "legs" next to his bed.

He has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Steenkamp on Valentine's Day morning 2013 as well as a number of charges under the Firearms Act.

He fired four shots through the toilet door and said at his bail hearing that it was because he thought there was an intruder in there.

During his bail hearing last year, he said he was on his stumps at the time and felt fearful.

He said when he reached the bed Steenkamp was not there and he realised it could have been Steenkamp in the toilet.

"... I tried to open the toilet door but it was locked. I rushed back into the bedroom and opened the sliding door exiting onto the balcony and screamed for help.

"I put on my prosthetic legs, ran back to the bathroom and tried to kick the toilet door open.

"I think I must then have turned on the lights. I went back into the bedroom and grabbed my cricket bat to bash open the toilet door."


Earlier, Vermeulen used Pistorius's cricket bat to demonstrate how he would have struck the toilet door. He asked Judge Thokozile Masipa if he could take his jacket off and get out of the witness box in court GD.

He took the cricket bat, a Lazer English Willow Club Plus with several signatures on it, and took up position at the toilet door which had been set up next to the witness box. It was the actual door removed from Pistorius's home.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked Vermeulen to swing the bat as though he wanted to strike the brown, wooden door.

The point where the bat touched the door was higher than the mark made when Pistorius struck the door with the bat.

Vermeulen had to enlist the help of a police officer and Col Ian van der Nest to measure the height of the marks with a measuring tape.

The existing mark, indicated with a white sticker, was 1.53m. The point where Vermeulen would have connected with the door was about 1.85m.

To make the mark at 1.53m he would have had to bend over and swing the bat.

"It's quite an uncomfortable position," said Vermeulen.

He then got onto his knees and swung the bat again. There was laughter as he struck the door with a hard tap, instead of the soft knock he had intended. The point where the bat met the door was around 1.25m, suggesting Pistorius may have been on his stumps at the time.

Pistorius mostly sat with his head down, busy with something on his lap as Vermeulen gave his demonstration.

Vermeulen is the commander of the material analysis sub-section at the forensic science laboratory.

He told the court he had more than 29 years of experience in scientific analysis and completed almost 1 400 forensic investigations.

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

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