By Deborah Ayoade
The sound of uncontrollable quivering wails penetrated the air of the Pretoria courtroom as South African Paralympic athlete Pistorius was brought to the witness-box for the first time since the trial began, to recall the account of the fatal moment to which he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead.
Pistorius broke down as he described to the court what he called “the moment everything changed”, when he mistook his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp for an intruder.
Having heard noises from the toilet, he fired four shots that claimed her life through a locked toilet door at his home in Pretoria last year valentine’s day.
Recounting the moments he thought intruders had entered his home in the early hours of 14th February 2013, Pistorius told of how he armed himself with a pistol after hearing a window opening in the bathroom, in attempt to protect himself and Miss Steenkamp from danger.
“I had my pistol in my right hand and peered into the bathroom.
“I didn’t have much mobility on the tiles. I had my pistol raised to the corner of the entrance of the bathroom.
“I noticed that the bathroom window was open. I was with my back against the wall.
“I wasn’t sure if the intruders were in the toilet or around the corner at that point.
‘”Then I heard a noise from inside the toilet that I perceived to be someone coming out of the toilet.
“Before I knew it I had fired four shots at the door.
“My ears were still ringing. I couldn’t hear anything, so I kept shouting for Reeva to phone the police.
“I was still scared to retreat because I wasn’t sure if there was somebody on the ladder or someone in the toilet.
Retreating back to the bedroom he realised Miss Steenkamp was nowhere to be found. On realising his mistake, Pistorius described how he rushed back to the bathroom and tried to kick down the toilet door, eventually managing to break down the door panel to get into the toilet to stumble across his blood soaked girlfriend unconscious inside. The athlete then claims “I sat over Reeva and I cried… and um, I don’t know how long… I don’t know how long I was there for… She wasn’t breathing.”
The emotional breakdown of Pistorius forced the judge to call for the trial to adjourn early as the athlete was deemed to be in an emotional state that was not fit to continue. This is not the first time Pistorius has broken down, earlier in the trial the defendant wept and vomited in court after gruesome pictures of Miss Steenkamp were shown at the trial.
The trial is set to pick back up on Wednesday morning; Mr Pistorius is accused of murdering 29-year-old model Miss Steenkamp after a heated argument, if found guilty Pistorius could face life imprisonment. Even if acquitted he is still faced with charges of manslaughter, culpable homicide, in which he could face six to 15 years in prison.