Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
17 Apr 2014
6:00 am

‘Inexpert’ expert does Oscar case more harm than good

Ilse de Lange

An apparent 'inexpert' expert seems to have done Oscar Pistorius's case more harm than good, as prosecutor Gerrie Nel tore into him yesterday, accusing him of being "irresponsible".

Forensic expert Roger Dixon testifies at the murder trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius at the high court in Pretoria, Tuesday, 15 April 2014. Picture: Alon Skuy/Times Media Group/Pool

Roger Dixon, a forensic geologist, testified about sound tests with a cricket bat and gunshots, the sequence of events and bruises he saw on photos which three pathologists seemed to have missed.

But he admitted he was not an expert on sound, light, ballistics, wound pathology or pathology and relied on observation and logic and 19 years’ experience in the police force to draw conclusions.

He also admitted he had not attended the autopsy on Reeva Steenkamp and had only attended three autopsies in his career.

He said Reeva had been very close to the door with her body angled towards the handle when she was shot in the hip and arm, whereafter she fell backwards and was hit in the hand and head.

Nel said sarcastically a bullet did not fling someone backwards, except in the movies.

According to Dixon, Reeva had not been hit in the back by a ricochet, but got bruises from falling on a magazine rack. He said her arm was not in a defensive position over her head when she was shot, but that one of the bullets had hit her hip while her arm was bent, with the second shot hitting her arm, followed by shots in her hand and head.

Two pathologists testified there were splinters around the arm wound but did not mention wood splinters around the hip wound, but Dixon said he had seen what looked like wood splinters on her hip in photos. Nel accused Dixon of not reading the autopsy report properly and of giving “dangerous” evidence in a field in which he was not expert.

Dixon said he had wielded a cricket bat when sound recordings were made, but was not present when new sound recordings were made of shots fired in quick succession last week by defence experts. Nel questioned Dixon’s integrity for not revealing that two tests had been done with shots being fired at a door.

Dixon said only single shots could be fired in the first tests as the pistol kept jamming and he had put the recorder on “repeat” to get the effect of shots in quick succession. He was unsure if the person who did the sound recordings was an expert in recording the sound of gunshots or explosions.

When Nel asked if he was a sound expert, he said: “I would hope that the evidence I present is sound.” To Nel’s question about what instrument he used to test the light visible from the bathroom window from outside, Dixon said “my eyes”.