Oscar Pistorius intended to kill when he fired four shots through a lavatory door, the prosecution said on Thursday, as it sought to wrest back the case against the Paralympian.
The South African athlete says that he shot Reeva Steenkamp by mistake in the early hours of Valentine's Day, believing her to be an intruder. But Gerrie Nel, the prosecutor, drew out the full implications of what Pistorius had done, accusing him of trying to carry on "as if nothing had happened" after his girlfriend's death.
During the bail hearing at Pretoria magistrates' court, Nel responded to the defence case laid out on Wednesday.
On the athlete's own account, said the prosecutor, Pistorius, 26, had not planned to kill the 29-year-old model, but had "planned" to shoot a supposed intruder inside his Pretoria home.
"Even on his version of events, it's planned," said Nel. "He fired four shots, not one. The only reason you fire four shots is to kill."
Pistorius, added Nel, could have been in no doubt about the consequences of firing a 9mm handgun into a lavatory cubicle measuring less than 10 square feet. Nel also rejected the argument that Pistorius could have acted in self-defence. "I always find it astonishing that two parties can have such diverse arguments about one set of facts," he said. "We argue with respect, but with conviction that no court will agree that the accused acted in self-defence."
By applying to be released on bail, Pistorius was playing down the gravity of what had happened, added the prosecutor. "I am astounded by the total lack of insight of the seriousness of what's happened," said Nel.
"This total lack of insight and willingness to take responsibility for his deeds increases his flight risk."
The Paralympian gold medallist has been charged with "premeditated murder" under Schedule Six of South Africa's Criminal Procedure Act. That places the burden on Pistorius to show why he deserves bail. For the application to be successful, Nel said the accused "must prove on the balance of probability that he will be acquitted" at his trial.
Instead, the defendant seemed simply to be saying: "I'm Oscar Pistorius, I'm a world-renowned athlete, that in itself is special", claimed Nel.
Seated in the dock, Pistorius's face twisted in anguish and he appeared to be fighting an urge to speak.
As for the suggestion that Pistorius would probably be acquitted, Nel said the "coup de grace" of the case against the athlete was the fact that his handgun was found lying beside two phones on the bath mat outside the lavatory. This suggested that Steenkamp had taken her phone into the lavatory.
She would only have done this, argued Nel, if she had felt threatened. The prosecution believes that Steenkamp fled into the lavatory to escape a violent altercation with Pistorius.
Nel's attack on the athlete concluded what had sometimes been a day of farce in Court C.
The proceedings opened with an application by an unknown woman for Pistorius to undergo 60 days of independent psychiatric evaluation to discover whether he was "mentally insane". The woman told The Daily Telegraph that the athlete's late mother, and old friend of hers, had appeared in a dream and urged her to intervene. The Pistorius family later said the woman was unknown to them.
This was followed by Warrant Officer Hilton Botha, formerly the leading police investigator, being summoned back to the witness stand by Desmond Nair, the magistrate. Nair seemed anxious to discover why the detective, who was removed from the case hours later, wilted under cross-examination on Wednesday.
When W/O Botha confirmed his first language was Afrikaans, Nair asked, "Do you think it was a wise decision to testify in English?" The case continues.