Pretoria: A tearful Oscar Pistorius apologised yesterday to Reeva Steenkamp's family, telling the court he had "terrible nightmares" since the night he killed his girlfriend and often woke up smelling blood.
Oscar Pistorius speaks to his sister Aimee at the Pretoria High Court in South Africa yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
Stammering and with his jaw trembling as he took the witness stand in his defence, Pistorius said he did not intend to kill his 29-year-old lover.
The Paralympic gold medallist is accused of premeditated murder, but claims he shot the model through a locked toilet door believing she was an intruder.
"I want to take this opportunity to apologise to Mr and Mrs Steenkamp," he said as he sobbed. Pistorius said he was "trying to protect Reeva" on Valentine's Day last year. "I can promise that when she went to bed that night she felt loved."
In the tribunal Steenkamp's mother June, flanked by other relatives, stared at him stony-faced during the apology. She has for weeks sat through gruesome evidence, including brutal images of her dead daughter.
"I tried to put my words on paper to write to you but no words can ever suffice. I've had terrible nightmares," Pistorius said since the night of the shooting, adding: "I wake up at night smelling blood."
He also said that since the shooting he has taken sleeping pills and anti-depressants.
After five weeks of prosecution testimony, Monday was the first day of Pistorius' defence. The trial is slated to run to at least mid-May.