As it happened: Oscar Pistorius trial day 20

Key Points

  • Oscar Pistorius faced a third day of cross examination at his murder trial
  • Prosecutor Gerrie Nel began the day asking Mr Pistorius about his alarm system at home
  • The athlete was also asked why he did not check on his girlfriend when he heard a noise
  • The South African athlete denies murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on 14 February 2013
  • Mr Pistorius insists the shooting was an accident after he mistook Ms Steenkamp for an intruder
  • All times in BST

    Welcome to our live coverage of the third day of Oscar Pistorius' cross-examination on charges of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.


    The 27-year-old South African athlete, who competed at both the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the Olympics, denies the charges against him.

    08:32: Nomsa Maseko BBC News, Pretoria

    tweets: #OscarPistorius South Africa's newspaper headlines

    South Africa's newspaper headlines

    On Thursday, Oscar Pistorius faced a second day of intense cross-examination at the the hands of Chief Prosecutor Gerrie Nel, in which the athlete was accused of being selfish, reckless and a liar.

    Chief Prosecutor Gerrie Nel focused on the athlete's character, enthusiasm for firearms and version of events before he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

    The hearing has just begun. Mr Pistorius takes the witness box and is reminded he is still under oath.


    Mr Nel tells Mr Pistorius that while he will ask about his religion, he does not intend to challenge him about his faith.


    Mr Nel points out that in his evidence Mr Pistorius talked about praying with Ms Skeenkamp - and that in that evidence he talked about praying for him, his training, his problems. Again, the prosecution is trying to paint a picture of a selfish man.


    Before he began his questioning, Mr Nel said that Reeva Steenkamp's mother, June, had confirmed that Oscar Pistorius did reach out privately to Steenkamp family to try to offer apology, but they were not ready to meet him.


    Day 19 was a dramatic day, reported in tweets and video by our correspondents there.

    Follow @Pumza_Fihlani, @nomsa_maseko, @nkosi_milton, @BBCAndrewH, @KarinBBC, @forbeesta and more, for tweets from inside and outside court.

    Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

    #OscarPistorius asked if he ever reported a crime to a police station. He says no (but mentions a wrongful arrest complaint against police).

    Nomsa Maseko BBC News, Pretoria

    I have not been a victim of crime in my house... except for the police stealing my watches M'Lady - Oscar #Pistorius

    Pumza Fihlani BBC News

    Nel says in spite of his safety concerns he felt safe enough in estate to leave cars outside, leave broken window unfixed. #Pistorius

    Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

    We can see where this is going - Nel seeking to show #OscarPistorius claims of deep fear of crime at home are exaggerated.


    Mr Nel says that Oscar Pistorius has changed his evidence regarding the house alarm.


    Yesterday Mr Pistorius felt the bite of the 'bull terrier', Prosecutor Nel. Today is shaping up to be no different. Mr Nel is now accusing the athlete of "tailoring " his evidence.

    Nomsa Maseko BBC News, Pretoria

    #Pistorius says he wasn't confident that his alarm system would work at all times as external motion detectors could be removed

    09:06: Jerome Starkey

    tweets: Nel's got a softer voice today, but he's still as savage. "You are now in trouble," he warns #Pistorius. "You are tailoring your evidence"


    My alarm was working after paint work on the house in 2010, says Mr Pistorius. The system had been tested.


    Mr Nel asks Mr Pistorius if in 2013 he was aware of any malfunction of the alarm. Mr Pistorius says he was not.


    Mr Pistorius says on the night of the shooting he deactivated the alarm. After questioning from Mr Nel he says he admits he does not remember doing it but he must have done so as it was a habit to turn on the alarm when he went into his bedroom and deactivate when he exited.

    Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

    #OscarPistorius concedes another error in his bail statement, saying he wasn't as sure as he'd suggested re- when he deactivated the alarm.


    "I'm not convinced about your answer now - I think you're trying to cover up for lies," says Mr Nel.


    Mr Pistorius apologies, saying he is tired - he meant to say he "must have" turned off the alarm as he has no independent recollection of turning off the alarm.


    Judge Thokozile Masipa intervenes, saying: "Mr Pistorius it's important that you should be all here when you're in that witness box. So if you're tired… then you must say so. Are you making mistakes because you are too tired?"

    Luke Simon Youngs

    tweets: Mr Nel now referring to himself in the third person, love this guy #Pistorius

    Pumza Fihlani BBC News

    #Pistorius says he is tired that is why he is making "mistakes". Nel asks if he needs time says it won't change anything.

    Nomsa Maseko BBC News, Pretoria

    #OscarPistorius: It's not that I want time off. I'm just tired and that's not going to change. Mr Nel must please bear with me


    Mr Nel is now back to how the alarm works. Mr Pistorius says there is no alarm for "open zones" - it would not go off if a window were opened.

    Pumza Fihlani BBC News

    Nel then asks why he believed there were intruders, when the alarm hadn't gone off. #Pistorius says he wasn't thinking about alarm


    Mr Nel now moves his questioning on to an incident when Mr Pistorius says he was followed by a black Mercedes on a highway.

    Mike Stevenson, Yateley, UK

    emails: You cannot tell where Nel is going next, not allowing Pistorius to think ahead and plan his responses.


    Mr Pistorius said the car overtook him at night and he saw a muzzle flash. He says he did not think it was a camera as he heard a bang, which he associated with a firearm.

    Nomsa Maseko BBC News, Pretoria

    #Pistorius:I saw a muzzle flash Nel: Are you sure it wasn't a camera flash? No M'Lady Nel: Aah I see you're keeping up now. Not tired?


    Mr Nel is incredulous that the athlete cannot remember who he phoned after this "traumatic" event, which happened either in 2008 or 2009, and why he did not report it to the police.


    The athlete says he did not report the incident because he "did not trust the police" to investigate.

    Jenna McCartan

    tweets: Nel is going round in circles!! No wonder OP is tired!! I'm exhausted just watching!! #PistoriusTrial


    Questioning now turns to an incident 2012 where Mr Pistorius says he was assaulted. It had its roots in a row at a race track with Quinton van der Burgh, who took Mr Pistorius' then girlfriend Sam Taylor abroad while he was at the Olympics.


    Mr Pistorius says he was later assaulted by former footballer Marc Batchelor, a friend of Mr Van der Burgh's. He denies Mr Nel's accusation that he had approached Mr Batchelor and told him he would break his legs. "That's not true," says Mr Pistorius.

    Pumza Fihlani BBC News

    #Pistorius says he wouldn't threaten Batchelor, apparently had a reputation of being "involved in assaults" the athlete reveals to us.


    After some time spent on incidents in the athlete's past, the focus now turns to the night of Reeva Steenkamp's death, and how much light there was in the bedroom.


    Mr Nel focuses on the blue light coming from the amplifier in the bedroom. He asks at what point the light began to bother him - did it wake him up? Mr Pistorius is not sure what woke him up.


    Photos of the bedroom are shown to the court. Mr Pistorius says he put a pair of jeans over the light from the amplifier.


    Mr Nel is now discussing the place of the fans which Mr Pistorius moved after he woke up in the early hours of 14 February 2013.

    Jayne, Sunderland

    emails: I do not think that Mr Nel is being very fair to Oscar Pistorius. When Oscar is answering the questions, Mr Nel is asking them again and again. I know he has a job to do but there is no need to be rude and abrupt.


    Mr Pistorius says he then heard the window in the bathroom "sliding" open and slamming.

    Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

    #OscarPistorius says noise of window sliding in bathroom would be a lot louder than someone getting out of bed.


    Mr Pistorius says he did not hear Reeva Steenkamp getting out of bed.


    Mr Nel asks: "Did you not say to Reeva, 'Reeva did you hear that?'" Mr Pistorius says he was sure of what he heard - an intruder in the bathroom - and he did not need to check with his girlfriend.


    "I was sure there was somebody in my house," says Mr Pistorius, adding that he asked Ms Steenkamp in a "soft manner" to call the police. He confirms he did not wait for a reply.

    Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

    #OscarPistorius trying to avoid another argument about bedroom evidence saying "we have discussed that at great length."

    Gerald Imray, AP

    tweets: #OscarTrial Nel is going to try show that bed duvet was always on floor, because fight, and OP blaming it on police tampering


    Mr Nel turns back to the photographs. He is concerned that the jeans are shown on top of the duvet in one photo. Mr Pistorius had said he dropped them as he was about to cover the amplifier light and heard the noise. Mr Nel insists he is lying.


    Mr Pistorius says the police moved items in the room. His lawyer, Barry Roux, then intervenes about the angle of the photograph, saying it would be better to have an enlarged image.


    The judge agrees and then reminds Mr Nel to mind his language: "You don't call a witness a liar while he is in the witness stand."

    Pumza Fihlani BBC News

    Basically Nel can say a witness is lying but cannot call him a liar - yes there's a difference.


    The court has adjourned for a tea break.


    tweets: Why is hard for people to understand that he has to talk to the judge therefore answering his questions with 'my lady' #PistoriusTrial

    June Steenkamp (l) in court on Friday 11 April 2014

    June Steenkamp (L) is again in court. She said Oscar Pistorius had made an approach to say sorry to the Steenkamp family in a private face-to-face meeting, but they were not ready.


    The hearing has resumed with the judge reminding Mr Pistorius that he is under oath.


    More photographs are being shown of the jeans on the floor of Mr Pistorius' bedroom pictured after the shooting of Ms Steenkamp. The judge allows Mr Nel to continue with his questioning. "If the jeans are on top of the duvet it creates a difficulty for your version," Mr Nel tells the athlete.


    Another photograph is shown of the bedroom floor and Mr Pistorius is explaining the position of his prosthetic legs - and how he usually covers his legs with clothing.


    Mr Pistorius says he cannot remember if the fans were in his way when he ran to the balcony to call for help after the shooting.


    "It's because it never happened, that's why you can't remember," says Mr Nel.


    Another adjournment as Mr Pistorius composes himself.


    Proceedings continue. Mr Pistorius agrees that he has a good memory of events of the early hours of 14 February 2013 before he used the firearm. After that he has a poor recall of what happened.


    Mr Nel wants to know why Mr Pistorius did not mention in his bail application that he had spoken to Ms Steenkamp when he first woke up.

    Gill Barnes, Stockton on Tees

    emails: Sadly, I do not think we will ever know the true outcome of this case... unless of course council can break OP down. I think whoever is the most clever and adept barrister will win the day.


    "A reasonable person would have looked where Reeva was … but you didn't, you just panicked and grabbed a gun," says Mr Nel about Mr Pistorius' reaction to the noise in the bathroom.


    Mr Nel wants to know why the double amputee, who was on his stumps at the time, felt vulnerable yet approached the danger. Mr Pistorius said he wanted to put as much distance between Ms Steenkamp and "the danger" .

    Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

    #OscarPistorius wipes his eyes as Nel presses on, getting him to admit he could have stayed by passage in bedroom and defended Reeva.


    Mr Nel says the safest and easiest thing to do would have been to leave the bedroom. But Mr Pistorius says his personality is to confront danger.

    Paula Bevan

    tweets: Hindsight is a wonderful thing. How can anyone know how they will react in such a situation? #OscarTrial


    Mr Pistorius describes screaming and shouting very loudly as he walked down the passage towards the bathroom moments before the shooting, demanding that the intruders leave his house and for Ms Steenkamp to call the police.

    Milton Nkosi BBC News, Johannesburg

    Pistorius: Everything about that event was split decision. Nel: That's not true. Nobody would do that. It's a lie.


    Mr Pistorius confirms that when he looked into the bathroom, which was illuminated by lights from outside, the window was open and the toilet door was closed. Earlier in the passage he had heard a door slam so he was not surprised to see the toilet door closed.

    Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

    Nel getting mileage from #OscarPistorius declaring something as certain, then immediately correcting himself. Seeking to show a pattern.


    Mr Pistorius denies saying someone might have kicked toilet door closed and then corrects himself. Mr Nel takes him to task for his "mistakes".


    Mr Nel asks if it is reasonable for an intruder to come in through the window and run into the toilet. Mr Pistorius says he considered whether the intruder was in the toilet or on the ladder.

    Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

    Nel says #OscarPistorius has just shown he had time to "consider and reason" which undermines his "didn't have time to think" defence.


    Mr Pistorius denies going to the bathroom to shoot someone, he says he wanted to make them flee.


    tweets: YES! Nel is asking all the questions that the nation has been asking! really, why would an intruder lock himself in the toilet?! #OscarTrial


    Mr Nel wants to know why Ms Steenkamp, who was in the toilet, did not reply when he was in the bathroom and had asked her to call the police. "She never said a word. Why would she not say a word? Why?"

    Mukuka Mumba

    tweets: There!! Nel's closing this one. Why would Reeva not utter a single word when Oscar was shouting 3 metres away?? #OscarTrial


    Mr Pistorius says he does not know why she did not reply, he posits that Ms Steenkamp was terrified thinking there was an intruder because of his shouts. Mr Nel responded: "She wasn't scared of anything except you."


    Mr Nel asks if Ms Steenkamp screamed when Mr Pistorius fired at the toilet door. The athlete says she did not.


    "I didn't hear her scream after the first shot, my ears were ringing," Mr Pistorius says.


    Mr Pistorius admits he is haunted by what Ms Steenkamp's thoughts were in the last moments of her life.


    Mr Nel says Mr Pistorius' perception that he was under threat does not make sense: "You shot at her knowing she was behind that door." Mr Pistorius replies: "That's not true."


    With that, Mr Nel asks for the court to adjourn until Monday morning when Mr Pistorius will retake the stand.

    Karin Giannone BBC News

    Lawyer tells me #OscarPistorius is still under oath and therefore cannot consult with his legal team about the case over the weekend.

    Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

    "These past few days have been close to a disaster for Mr Pistorius - and one that largely seems to have been of his own making."


    To recap on the morning's proceedings, Mr Nel began by saying that contrary to his remarks the day before, the Steenkamp family had been approached by the Olympic athlete who wanted to make a face-to-face apology to them.

    His questioning initially tried to show that Mr Pistorius' fears of crime at home were exaggerated, he then turned to how the house alarm worked. Mr Nel established that it was not malfunctioning in 2013, but he wanted to know why Mr Pistorius assumed there were intruders, given that the alarm had not gone off.

    Mr Pistorius became emotional at several times - first when he admitted making a mistake with the way he answered the question about deactivating the alarm on the night he shot Ms Steenkamp - he said he did turn it off and then said he "must have", which Mr Nel felt was an example of him tailoring his evidence.


    Before returning to the night of the shooting, Mr Nel questioned him about an incident where he is alleged to have threatened to break someone's legs - which Mr Pistorius vigorously denied.

    Mr Nel then turned to the night of the shooting, querying why the athlete would have gone towards danger when he felt vulnerable on his stumps. Mr Pistorius said that it was his personality to address things head on. Once in the bathroom he had shot at the door because he felt threatened after he heard a noise. He said he had not heard Reeva Steenkamp scream when he shot at the toilet door nor had he heard any response from her earlier when asking her to call to the police. Mr Nel said he did not believe this version of events, saying: "You shot at her knowing she was behind that door."

    Pumza Fihlani BBC News

    Today Mr Nel got Mr Pistorius to concede to thinking and reasoning as he made his way to the toilet door - this is important because it shakes his defence that he was not thinking as it all happened so fast.


    And that is it for our live updates on the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius this week. The trial resumes on Monday at 08:30 GMT.

    A woman hugs South African Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius after handing him flowers as he leaves the North Gauteng Hight Court in Pretoria on 11 April 2014

    Oscar Pistorius left court after being handed some flowers by someone in the crowd gathered outside.


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