Pistorius lawyer seeks to show loving Steenkamp relationship

Evidence contrasts with messages in which couple argued in weeks before girlfriend shot

 Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius arrives for his murder trial  at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, yesterday. Photograph: Chris Collingridge/EPA

Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius arrives for his murder trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, yesterday. Photograph: Chris Collingridge/EPA

Tue, Mar 25, 2014, 12:19

The chief lawyer for Oscar Pistorius has sought to show that the athlete had a loving relationship with the girlfriend he killed, referring to telephone messages in which they exchanged warm compliments and said they missed each other.

The testimony contrasted with several messages read out in court at the request of the prosecution yesterday in which Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp argued in the weeks before he shot her. In those messages, Ms Steenkamp told the double-amputee runner she was sometimes scared by his behaviour, which included jealous outbursts in front of other people.

Defence lawyer Barry Roux noted the tense messages were a tiny fraction of roughly 1,700 that police Capt Francois Moller, a mobile phone expert, extracted from the couple’s mobile devices.

Livestream: Murder trial of Oscar Pistorius

Mr Roux noted an exchange from January 19th last year in which Ms Steenkamp sent Pistorius a photo of herself in a hoodie and making a kissing face, followed by the message: “You like it?”

“I love it,” Pistorius said, according to the message.

“So warm,” Ms Steenkamp responded.

Mr Roux was also granted permission to show CCTV video that showed Pistorius and Ms Steenkamp kissing in a convenience store. He asked Mr Moller to read out a January 9th message from the model to her athlete boyfriend. It read: “You are a very special person. You deserve to be looked after.”

Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel questioned the relevance of showing the convenience store video, saying he could ask for a courtroom viewing of another video that shows Pistorius at a gun range, firing a shotgun and using a pistol to shoot a watermelon, which bursts on impact.

Mr Nel also said many messages of affection between the couple were brief, in contrast to the texted arguments, which were far longer and dwelled on their relationship in greater depth.

Earlier, Mr Moller said Ms Steenkamp had connected to the internet on her mobile hours before Pistorius killed her. She made the connection just before 9pm on February 13th last year, and the connection lasted for more than 11 hours, possibly because social media programmes were still open.

Pistorius fatally shot her shortly after 3am through a closed toilet door in his home.

“If an application is not closed, it will carry on running,” Mr Moller said.

Pistorius fatally shot Ms Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day, and Mr Moller’s extraction of data also shed light on what appeared to be a frantic series of phone calls made from one of Pistorius’s phones after the killing.

They include a call to the administrator of the housing estate where Pistorius lived at 3.19am on February 14th, a call a minute later to an ambulance service and a call a minute after that to the housing estate security.

The phone used for those and other calls was handed to police 11 days later, Mr Moller said.

Police analysis also showed a five-minute internet connection was made on Pistorius’s telephone from 1.48am on February 14th, a little over an hour before he killed Ms Steenkamp. Mr Moller did not specify whether the connection was manual or automatic.

Mr Moller said he received as evidence two BlackBerry phones, two iPhones, two iPads and a Mac computer from Pistorius’s house on the day after Ms Steenkamp was shot.

Prosecutors allege Pistorius killed Ms Steenkamp after an argument. Pistorius says he killed her by accident, mistaking her for an intruder in his house.

Press Association