By Tosin Sulaiman
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Oscar Pistorius will sell the luxury Pretoria home in which he shot and killed his girlfriend to pay his legal expenses due to an unexpected delay in the trial, his lawyer said on Thursday.
The Olympic and Paralympic athlete is on trial for the murder of 29-year old model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013. He has pleaded not guilty, saying he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.
Pistorius has been forced to sell his home in the upmarket Silver Woods estate because the legal process is likely to take longer than the three weeks initially indicated by the state, Brian Webber, the lawyer handling the sale, said in a statement.
"It has become necessary to sell Mr. Pistorius' home in the Silver Woods Country Estate in Pretoria in order for him to raise the necessary funds to cover his increasing legal costs," Webber said.
"Mr. Pistorius has been funding his own defense from the outset. Due to the delay in finalizing the trial, the decision to urgently dispose of his single biggest asset, has had to be made."
Webber added that the property was handed back to the track star by the authorities more than a year ago. Although a decision was taken to keep it sealed until after the trial, Pistorius had been forced to reconsider.
The track star, nicknamed the "Blade Runner", has not returned to the house since Steenkamp's killing.
"Mr. Pistorius cannot contemplate ever returning to live there again," Webber said.
Pistorius' lower legs were amputated as a baby but he went on to achieve global fame as the "fastest man on no legs," running on carbon-fiber prosthetic limbs to win gold medals at the Beijing and London Paralympics.
He also reached the 400 metres semi-finals at the London 2012 Olympics, competing against able-bodied athletes.
The trial, which began on March 3, was adjourned on Thursday and Friday due to a national holiday on Friday in South Africa.
On Wednesday, the court heard that Steenkamp was first shot in the hip, not the head, supporting the testimony of earlier witnesses who said they heard screams during a volley of shots [ID:nL6N0MG3PR].
(Reporting by Tosin Sulaiman, Editing by Angus MacSwan)