THE Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius vomited in the dock at his murder trial yesterday as he heard graphic details of the injuries sustained by his late girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, whom he is accused of killing in cold blood.
The bullets that Mr Pistorius fired through the locked door of his bathroom on 14 February 2013, which killed his girlfriend, were of a variety designed to expand on impact and sustain maximum damage, said Professor Gert Saayman, of Pretoria University, the pathologist who performed the autopsy on Ms Steenkamp.
Judge Thokozile Masipa issued a court order preventing Professor Saayman's explicit testimony from being broadcast or reported verbatim, after the latter had argued that the "graphic details of the injuries" could "have the potential to compromise the dignity of the deceased".
However, journalists were allowed to summarise the testimony on the autopsy report without directly quoting the witness's words.
Professor Saayman, who stood for much of his testimony, referring to photographs that were not shown to the gallery. He described bullet wounds on Ms Steenkamp's body; one to the right side of the head, one to the right elbow and one to the right hip, each of which could have been fatal in isolation, he said. He also described the exit wounds caused by the bullets, as well as other abrasions consistent with the impact of a bullet fired through a wooden door.
Mr Pistorius could be heard retching as Professor Saayman described the wounds, prompting the judge to briefly halt the testimony and ask the 27-year-old's counsel, Barry Roux to attend to him. After speaking to his client, he said Mr Pistorius believed his reaction would not change, and a bucket was placed at his feet.
Mr Pistorius, the first amputee to run in the Olympics, sat bent forwards for a few minutes with his hands over his ears after the day's session was adjourned. His brother put a hand on his back.
The bullets that pierced her body, known as "Black Talons" and widely available at gun shops in South Africa, are designed to expand on impact, causing extensive damage. The 29-year-old model's right arm was also broken and she had multiple skull fractures, both because of the effect of bullets, Professor Saayman said.
Professor Saayman also testified about the time of Ms Steenkamp's last meal, saying it was highly likely that the food found in Ms Steenkamp's stomach had been eaten within two hours of when she was shot, at 3am on the morning of Valentine's Day. Mr Pistorius had claimed the couple went to bed at 10pm.
Mr Pistorius is charged with the premeditated killing of Ms Steenkamp following an argument. He claims he shot Ms Steenkamp through his locked door bathroom door after mistaking her for a dangerous intruder. He faces a minimum of 25 years in jail if convicted. The trial continues.
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