Oscar Pistorius trial: 'I didn't have time to think'

Oscar Pistorius was on Thursday accused of ‘‘blaming everybody else but himself’’ as he faced a second day of relentless cross-examination at his murder trial, with the state trying to portray him as reckless, self-obsessed and controlling.

After a harrowing first day under questioning from state prosecutor Gerrie Nel, it was a less emotional Pistorius on Thursday who responded to questions about his relationship with Reeva Steenkamp in the lead up to the fatal shooting, and the three associated gun charges.

Mr Nel began by asking about their relationship, specifically two key arguments in the fortnight before the Valentine’s Day shooting.

Pistorius sought to explain the arguments, highlighted in text messages sent by the 29-year-old model to her athlete boyfriend, as insignificant. He said the rows had been quickly resolved and their relationship was flourishing and becoming stronger as a result.

But Mr Nel countered that the fights were ‘‘all about you’’ and that while he appeared to apologise for his conduct in his response, he was also blaming Ms Steenkamp.

The court had seen and examined two messages sent by the model, in which she complains the couple are existing in a ‘‘double standard relationship’’, accusing Pistorius of being aggressive and controlling.

Mr Nel also noted that the phrase ‘‘I love you’’ appeared twice in Reeva’s WhatsApp messages – both times she wrote the words to her mother. ‘‘She never wrote that to you, and you never wrote it to her,’’ Mr Nel said.

Pistorius: ‘‘I never got the opportunity to tell Reeva that I loved her.’’

Mr Nel also took the double-amputee to task over his trembling apology on the first day of his evidence-in-chief, asking if he had ‘‘felt better’’ afterwards, suggesting it had been a narcissistic move in front of the world’s cameras.

‘‘I don’t think I could feel better, but I haven’t had the opportunity to apologise to them. It’s something I wanted to do for a very long time and it’s the right thing to do,’’ Pistorius said.

As the cross-examination ground on, Pistorius made a slip in his evidence, Mr Nel swooping to accuse him of mixing up his lies.

Asked about an incident in 2012, when a handgun was fired in a crowded Johannesburg restaurant, he insisted that he had never put his finger on the weapon’s trigger.

He admitted handling the gun, but said it just ‘‘discharged’’ in his hands as he was trying to ensure it was safe. ‘‘I didn’t have time to think,’’ he said.

Mr Nel pounced: ‘‘Ahh, so that’s one of your defences.’’

He was referring to the athlete’s evidence from the previous day, in which he used the same words to describe the shooting of Ms Steenkamp, believing she was an intruder in his toilet.

The court heard that the gun was ‘‘one up’’ – meaning there was one bullet in the chamber – and Pistorius conceded he usually carried his weapon that way.

Mr Nel asked why he was so surprised, then, that the gun owner Darren Fresco had done the same.

Pistorius said Mr Fresco’s gun was different to his and he did not believe it would have been safe to do that with his weapon.

Mr Nel repeatedly picked up Pistorius’ willingness to blame others, including his own lawyers, who did not challenge some pieces of evidence presented by the state.

‘‘You see, Mr Pistorius, you will blame anybody else but yourself, won’t you,’’ he said.

He denied the suggestion.

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