Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius will stand in a Pretoria dock to face a charge of murdering girlfriend

JOHANNESBURG: Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius will stand in a Pretoria dock tomorrow to face a charge of murdering his girlfriend, opening the decisive chapter in the story of the rise and fall of one of the world’s most recognisable athletes.

Barring a last-minute change of heart, the 27-year-old South African will enter a plea of ‘not guilty’, repeating his bail hearing assertions that he killed model Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013 after tragically mistaking her for an intruder hiding in the toilet.

He has already admitted to culpable homicide, equivalent to manslaughter, a crime that could see him put away for 15 years. Or he could leave the Pretoria High Court a free man, with no more than a slap on the wrist and a suspended sentence.

Prosecutors will seek to prove that Pistorius – known as ‘Blade Runner’ after his carbon-fibre running prosthetics – fired four rounds from a 9 mm pistol through the door of the toilet adjoining the bedroom of his luxury Pretoria home in a deliberate attempt to kill whoever was lurking behind it.

Steenkamp, a 29-year-old law graduate, women’s rights campaigner and regular on South Africa’s celebrity party scene, was hit three times, in the head, arm and hip. She was declared dead on the scene.