Oscar Pistorius trial postponed until April

Friday 28 March 2014 20.44
Oscar Pistorius says he shot Reeva Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder
Oscar Pistorius says he shot Reeva Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder

The judge overseeing Oscar Pistorius's murder trial adjourned the case today because a top court official was sick.

The 27-year-old athlete had been expected to take the stand for the first time.

"One of my assessors is not well," said Judge Thokozile Masipa. "I suggest that we postpone this matter to 7 April."

The court adjourned for two days on Tuesday, after state prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the prosecution had completed its case.

On Tuesday, Mr Pistorius's lawyer Barry Roux argued that the sprinter had a loving relationship with his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Prosecutors have charged Mr Pistorius with Ms Steenkamp's planned murder.

However, the Olympian and Paralympian says he shot at her four times through a locked toilet door after mistaking her for an intruder.

The court heard evidence from a prosecution witness on Monday that Ms Steenkamp was sometimes afraid of her boyfriend.

However, the defence drew attention to messages in which the couple used pet names such as "angel" and "baba", and presented CCTV footage of the pair kissing.

"You are an amazing person with so many blessings and you are more than cared for," Ms Steenkamp told Mr Pistorius on 13 February 2013, via messaging service WhatsApp the day before she died.

The athlete told her "stay tonight if you like" as part of the exchange of messages read out in court on Tuesday.

The model and law graduate had planned to cook Mr Pistorius dinner on Valentine's Day, but was shot dead by the athlete in the early hours of the morning.

Police technology expert Francois Moller gave details of the couple's phone records, which revealed several calls were made from the 27-year-old sprinter's phone in quick succession after the shooting.

The first call was at 3.19am on 14 February to a manager at his residential estate in Pretoria and an ambulance and his estate security were then telephoned.

A friend was called at 3.55am, then Mr Pistorius's brother Carl, and finally Peet Van Zyl, his long-time manager.

Mr Roux argued that only four conversations were highlighted as argumentative out of more than 1,700 entries between the pair.

"There was a disagreement, unhappiness but if you look at the messages, it was resolved very quickly," he told the court.

Over 90% of around 1,700 messages between the two were affectionate, police technology expert Francois Moller testified on Monday, while highlighting a few that cast some doubt on the relationship.

"I'm scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me and how you react to me," Ms Steenkamp told the sprinter less than three weeks before her death, after he apparently accused her of flirting with another man.

Mr Roux also showed a CCTV video showing the couple buying groceries together ten days before her death.

At one point, the athlete leaned over and kissed Ms Steenkamp.