16 April 2014

South Africa: Nel Questions Dixon's Evidence

Photo: Marco Longari/Sapa
South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius cries in court (file photo).

Pretoria — Evidence given by defence expert witness Roger Dixon came under scrutiny in the High Court in Pretoria during Oscar Pistorius's trial on Wednesday.

Dixon, who gave evidence on Tuesday and Wednesday on issues including fibres, wood splinters, the sound of a gun versus a cricket bat hitting a door, and how a bullet could ricochet off tiles, said as an expert he "only looked at the evidence".

"In my experience in the police, I feel I can interpret," he said.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel queried Dixon's qualifications and background, before asking specifically what type of expert Dixon, a qualified geologist, was.

"Are you a sound expert?" Nel asked.

"I would hope I'm a sound expert," he replied.

Nel repeated the question, referring to sound and acoustics specifically, to which Dixon said the test he did of the sound made by a cricket bat hitting a door and a gun firing was to determine whether the two could be confused.

"[The] expertise used was attempting to reconstruct the situation... I was not listening to myself making that sound," he said.

Nel asked who was involved in the sound test at a firing range. Dixon said the range officer, two ballistic experts, their wives, two people from the sound recording company, and himself.

"I think that's almost all."

After further probing on who was at the range, Dixon said the range was closed.

"I was concentrating on the test. I can't recall anyone there."

Nel moved onto the test Dixon conducted on how dark it would have been in Pistorius's bedroom on February 14 last year, when his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead.

Dixon said: "The instruments that I used were my eyes."

Following further questioning from Nel he said he was not a light measuring expert, and had not used equipment to conduct the test.

Pistorius, who appeared to pay rapt attention to Nel's cross-examination of Dixon, is on trial for shooting Steenkamp through the locked door of a toilet cubicle in his Pretoria townhouse.

He has pleaded not guilty to a charge of murdering her, claiming he thought there was an intruder in the house, and that the shooting was an accident.

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