‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius sobs in court after murder charge

South African 'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius breaks down during his court appearance in Pretoria. Credit: Reuters
South African ‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius breaks down during his court appearance in Pretoria.
Credit: Reuters

South African ‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee who became one of the biggest names in world athletics, broke down in tears on Friday after he was charged in court with shooting dead his girlfriend in his Pretoria home.

The 26-year-old Olympic and Paralympic superstar stood with head bowed in front of magistrate Desmond Nair to hear the charge that he had murdered model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius then started sobbing, covering his face with his hands. “Take it easy,” Nair told him. “Come take a seat.”

The case has stunned a nation that revered ‘the fastest man on no legs’ as a hero who managed to compete at the highest levels of sport despite being born without a fibula in either leg.

Prosecutors told the Pretoria court the shooting of 30-year-old Steenkamp in the early hours of Thursday was pre-meditated.

Pistorius faces life in prison if found guilty.

He did not enter a plea but a statement issued by his family and London-based agent said the charge was disputed “in the strongest possible terms”.

“He (Pistorius) has made it very clear that he would like to send his deepest sympathies to the family of Reeva,” the statement said, in the first message attributed to him since his arrest.

Steenkamp was found shot dead in Pistorius’s plush home in the middle of a heavily guarded gated complex in the northern outskirts of the capital, police said.

The Afrikaans-language Beeld newspaper said she was hit four times, in the head, chest, pelvis and hand.

“The security guards found Pistorius by Steenkamp’s body in the bathroom,” the paper said on its website, citing a neighbor. “The door had bullet holes right through it.”

Defense lawyer Kenny Oldwage said his client had an “extremely traumatized state of mind”. He did not request bail before proceedings were adjourned until February 19.

GOLDEN BOY LOSES SHINE

Early reports of the shooting suggested Pistorius may have mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder, but police said neighbors had heard noises before the shots and there had been previous “domestic” incidents at the house.

Pistorius said nothing during the 40-minute hearing.

His father, Henke, and brother, Carl, sat directly behind him in the packed court-room, occasionally leaning forward to give him a pat on the shoulder.

His mother died in 2002 when he was 15 years old – a tragedy that he said spurred him on in his quest to compete as an able-bodied athlete.

Along with Lance Armstrong’s recovery from testicular cancer to win the Tour de France – an achievement now brought low by his admission of doping – Pistorius’ tale of triumph over adversity was one of the most powerful in the history of sport.

South African newspapers plastered Steenkamp’s killing across their front pages, reflecting shock and dismay at the fall of a man who commanded rare respect on all sides of the racial divides that persist in Nelson Mandela’s “Rainbow Nation” 19 years after the end of apartheid.

“Golden Boy Loses Shine” ran a front page headline in the Sowetan, beside a picture of Pistorius, head bowed in a grey hooded tracksuit being led away from a police station.

Callers to morning radio shows expressed grief at the death of Steenkamp, who had been due to give a talk at a Johannesburg school this week about violence against women.

There was also widespread disbelief at the fate of a sportsman regarded as a genuinely “good guy”.

“How is it possible for one so high to fall so low so quickly?” Talk Radio 702 host John Robbie said.

ADVERTS PULLED

South Africa’s M-Net cable TV channel immediately pulled adverts featuring Pistorius off air but most of his sponsors, including sports apparel group Nike, said they would not make any decisions until the police investigation was completed.

Pistorius’ endorsements and sponsorships, which also include British telecoms firm BT, sunglasses maker Oakley and French designer Thierry Mugler, are thought to be worth as much as $2 million a year.

He reached the pinnacle of his fame in London 2012 when he became the first double amputee to run in the Olympics, reaching the 400-metres semi-finals.

In last year’s Paralympics he suffered his first loss over 200 meters in nine years. After the race he questioned the legitimacy of Brazilian winner Alan Oliveira’s prosthetic blades, but was quick to express regret for the comments.

Near the home, people who knew Pistorius paid tribute to a much-loved local hero.

“Some of us were in tears,” said Precious, who works at a petrol station where Pistorius used to fill up his McLaren supercar, signing autographs and picking up the tab for people in the convenience store.

“He was just so kind to everyone,” said Precious, who declined to give her family name.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Easter Egg hunt horror as skydiver plummets to…

A FAMILY Easter egg hunt ended in horror when a skydiver plummeted to his death in a New York garden after his parachute failed to…

News

Boston Marathon 2014 on high alert, Red Sox…

One year on from the horrific Boston Marathon bombings a ring of steel has been thrown around today's race, and a city stands defiant against…

News

Boston Strong: One year on from Boston Marathon…

  For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face…

Local

Monday is the deadline to register for Pennsylvania…

If residents want to vote in the May primary, which includes a vote for a new City Council member, today is the deadline to register.

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

NHL

Ray Emery steps up in Flyers’ Game 2…

Sure, he allowed two goals in the Rangers’ first four shots Sunday afternoon, but it’s about how you start, not how you finish.

NHL

Flyers come from behind, even series with Rangers

The Flyers overcame a two-goal deficit to get a much-needed win at Madison Square Garden Sunday.

MLB

Phillies get set for four against the Dodgers

The Phillies will face tough starting pitching out west against the Dodgers this week.

MLB

Phillies notebook: Cole Hamels returns this week

The Phillies should receive a big boost when Cole Hamels returns during the Dodgers series.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.