Oscar Pistorius charged with murder of girlfriend Reeva, sobs in court

Oscar Pistorius-Reeva

South African 'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee who became one of the biggest names in world athletics, broke down in tears on Friday after being formally charged in a Pretoria court with the murder of his girlfriend.

Dressed in a dark suit, the 26-year-old Olympic and Paralympic superstar stood with head bowed in front of magistrate Desmond Nair to the hear the charge of one count of murder read out.

He then started sobbing, covering his face with his hands.

"Take it easy. Come take a seat," Nair told him.

The downfall of the track superstar has stunned a nation that reveres 'the fastest man on no legs' as a hero who triumphed over adversity to compete with able-bodied athletes at the highest levels of sport.

His girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, 30, was found shot dead in his plush Pretoria home in the early hours of Thursday, police said. The Afrikaans-language Beeld newspaper said she had been hit four times, in the head, chest, pelvis and hand.

"The security guards found Pistorius by Steenkamp's body in the bathroom," the paper said on its website, citing a neighbour. "The door had bullet holes right through it."

Early reports of the shooting in the early hours of Thursday suggested Pistorius may have mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder, but police said neighbours had heard noises before the shots and that there had been previous "domestic" incidents at the house.

Pistorius was held overnight in a Pretoria police station. On Friday morning, he was led, flanked by family members and officers, to a police station wagon to be taken to the capital's central magistrate's court.

The hearing was delayed for two hours as his defence lawyers objected to the scrum of local and international reporters packed into the courtroom.

EMOTIONAL ICON

South African newspapers plastered the killing across their front pages, relegating a State of the Nation address by President Jacob Zuma in parliament to a distant second.

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