Pretoria: His eyes filled with tears, Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius tottered on his stumps in a packed courtroom on Wednesday in a desperate last bid to convince the judge that he was too vulnerable to have killed his girlfriend intentionally three years ago.
The athlete, known as the Blade Runner, looked humiliated when he was asked to remove his prosthetic limbs to expose his stumps to the televised hearing which will decide his murder sentence.
His T-shirt wet with sweat and his red eyes filled with tears, Pistorius paused at the side of the court to remove his prosthetic limbs in full view of the packed court.
The spectacle of the one-time sporting superstar tottering across the court room prompted a number of family members, fans and members of the public to break down in tears.
Loud sobs echoed around the wood-pannelled room as all eyes watched Pistorius move unsteadily, and reduced in height, towards the front of the court.
As he struggled to stand still in front of the judge, and in the glare of live television coverage, a cameraman had to step forward to support him.
His therapist leapt to his aid, guiding him towards the front bench of the court which he clutched to maintain his balance.
Pistorius, 29, appeared so humiliated by the demonstration that he could only stare at the floor, tears flooding down his cheeks, as his lawyer told the court how he did not wish “to hide behind his fame”.
When the strain of tottering became too much, he knelt down on a cushion before wiping his eyes with a tissue passed to him by one of his legal team.
Pistorius was born without fibulas — calf bones — and at 11 months old, his parents made the difficult choice to have both of his legs amputated below the knee, enabling him to be fitted with prosthetic legs.
His sentencing hearing heard how his stumps became infected while in jail.
Pistorius is facing a minimum of 15 years behind bars for the murder of his 29-year-old girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day three years ago.
Arguing for reduction in the recommended 15 year sentence, Roux, a legal team member, told the judge that there was “substantial and compelling evidence allowing for deviation from minimum”.