Oscar Pistorius trial: These are the six facts that weren't enough to prove murder.

Oscar Pistorius evidence
Oscar Pistorius in the dock at court yesterday. (Photo: Getty)

Oscar Pistorius has been found not guilty of the premeditated murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steekamp, on Valentines’ Day last year.

Judge Masipa yesterday found the double-amputee sprinter had not  intentionally killed his girlfriend. 

She did say the 27-year-old paralympian had been negligent, but has yet to rule on whether the killing was culpable homicide (which is approximately the same as what we call manslaughter in Australia). The judge will deliver a verdict on that charge tonight.

Some women’s rights groups are outraged about yesterday’s verdict; a number protested outside the courtroom yesterday, holding signs that emphasised their disgust over the high levels of violence against women in South Africa. 

Others were simply baffled as to how the evidence was insufficient to establish a murder conviction — although the prosecution has admitted that its case relied entirely on circumstantial evidence, which made the charge of murder difficult to establish.

For those who need a refresher, these are six critical allegations and moments from the Pistorius trial.

Protesters outside the court yesterday. (Photo: Getty)
Protesters outside the court yesterday. (Photo: Getty)

1. The text messages

During the trial, the prosecution entered into evidence four negative text messages between Pistorius and Steenkamp extracted from the paralympian’s phone — and used them to paint a picture of a possessive, and often abusive, boyfriend.

In messages sent just two weeks before her death, Steenkamp wrote: “I’m scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me and of how you will react to me.”

“We are living in a double standard relationship where u can be mad about how I deal with stuff when u are very quick to act cold and offish when you’re unhappy,” she wrote.

“I get snapped at and told my accents and voices are annoying. I touch your neck to show u I care you tell me to stop….Do this, don’t do that.”

2. Pistorius’ ex-girlfriend’s claims

Oscar Pistorius’s former girlfriend Samantha Taylor, 20, was a witness in the trial.

She has spoken out of her relationship with the paralympian both inside the witness box and to the press, saying he had a bad temper and had frequently shouted at her.

“The was a lot of commotion in our relationship. We were still together but we were having problems,” she said during the trial.

Reeva Steenkamp.

She told the court Pistorius “would scream out of anger,” but not when he was scared. She also testified that Pistorius had ‘laughed’ about one incident when a bullet was fired through the sunroof of a vehicle while she and Pistorius were inside.

Taylor, opened up further about the relationship in an explosive interview with UK newspaper The Mirror, saying she was left with bruises and scars after Pistorius physically attacked her and that she once hid his gun out of fear he would kill her.

“Oscar used to lock me in his house and then go out. I had no food, I couldn’t get out, “she said. “He gets so mad, so angry he can’t even speak… He used to bite me a lot, pinch me in anger and in fun. I had bruises and scars. It was painful,” she said.


She said his aggressive behaviour escalated after a dinner party at his house one evening.

“He was on the hard liquor. He moved all the couches and set the floor on fire and danced around it, she said. “It was a marble floor and he used alcohol to light it on fire. He slipped and he chipped his tooth.

“But because he was so drunk he thought I’d beaten him up. He started screaming at me… He was looking for his gun. He was saying I was a bitch because I beat him up. ‘What kind of person are you? You bitch.’

3. Neighbour’s claims they heard a woman scream

Four of Pistorius’ neighbours — Michelle Berger and her husband, Charl Johnson, and Johan Stipp and his wife, Annette — testified that they heard screams coming from the Pistorius home in the early hours of the morning of 14 February, 2013– but Pistorius claims Steenkamp never screamed, not even when the first bullet hit her thigh.

The paralympian also said he couldn’t hear himself scream after firing the shots, due to ringing in his ears — a point that prosecutor Nel seized on during the trial.

“You forgot about the ringing in your ears,” Prosecutor Nel said — implying Pistorius was “tailoring” his story as he went.

Part of Pistorius’s defence was also that the woman’s screams heard by neighbours on the night of the shooting were his own. But during her testimony, Pistorius’ ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor insisted: “That is not true – he sounds like a man.”

Reeva Steenkamp's parents June and Barry Steenkamp at the Pretoria High Court on September 11, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius, stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2013. This is his' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo: Phill Magakoe/Independent Newspapers/Gallo Image/Getty Images)
Reeva Steenkamp’s parents June and Barry Steenkamp in court yesterday. (Photo: Getty.)

4. The evidence about their last meal

Pistorius claims the pair ate chicken and a vegetable stir-fry at around 7pm on the night of Reeva’s death — and then went to bed between 9pm and 10pm

But expert witness Professor Gert Saayman said the contents of Reeva’s stomach strongly indicate she ate within two hours of the time of death, at around 1am.

The prosecution argued that this finding gelled neatly with the evidence of neighbour Ms Van der Merwe, who heard an “argument” at 1:56am — about two hours before Steenkamp’s death. Ms Van der Merwe said some time after the argument, she heard four “gunshots” — after which there was total silence.

5. Locked in the toilet cubicle – with a phone

The door to the toilet was locked from the inside at the time of Steenkamp’s death, and police at the crime scene found her mobile phone there with her.

The prosecution submitted Steenkamp had fled to the toilet with her cellphone.

Pistorius has also never mentioned hearing the toilet door being locked — but that door’s locking sound is distinctive, having been demonstrated during the trial.

6. Why didn’t Oscar check on Reeva?

One of the main questions observers the world over are asking is: if Pistorius thought it was an intruder in the bathroom, why didn’t he check on Steenkamp, who he says was sleeping in bed beside him?

Both sets of neighbours who testified in the case said that, when they heard a noise in the middle of the night that night, they turned to each other and said ‘Did you hear that?’

But Pistorius said he didn’t.

He maintains he picked up his gun and moved toward the toilet, shouting for Steenkamp to call the police — but that she didn’t respond.

He nevertheless went ahead and fired the shots through the bathroom door, he says.

Some more photos from the courtroom yesterday:

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