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Steenkamp's bloodied head shown in court

Gerrie Nel displayed the graphic image while cross-examining murder accused Oscar Pistorius.

Oscar Pistorius is escorted into the High Court in Pretoria on 9 April 2014. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.

PRETORIA - The North Gauteng High Court was left stunned on Wednesday after a photo of Reeva Steenkamp's bloodied head was shown in the courtroom.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel displayed the graphic image while cross-examining murder accused Oscar Pistorius.

The state launched straight into a stinging attack on the athlete's version of events on the day he killed his 29-year-old girlfriend at his luxury Silver Woods Country Estate home in Pretoria East.

The deadly shooting took place on Valentine's Day last year.

Nel urged Pistorius to look at the photo and confront what he had done, reducing the Olympic and Paralympic athlete to tears.

"For myself, I've taken responsibility. I will not look at a picture where I'm tormented by what I saw and felt that night. As I picked Reeva up, my fingers touched her hair. I remember, I don't have to look at a picture - I was there," the athlete said.

The accused battled to come back from the breakdown and continued crying, forcing Nel to give him time to regain composure.

Steenkamp's mother June would have also been caught by surprise by the image, but managed to hold her composure.

Meanwhile, National Prosecuting Authority head Mxolisi Nxasana says there was nothing unusual about Nel showing the graphic photograph in court.

Shortly before the photo was shown, a video of Pistorius firing shots at a watermelon at a shooting range was shown to the Pretoria court.

The zombie stopper video report by Sky News

Nel, known as the 'bull terrier' for his aggressive and relentless line of questioning, then introduced the graphic photo, comparing it to what happened at the range.

From the moment the accused stepped into the witness box, he fought to control his emotions.

He pinched the bridge of his nose, wiped his face, fiddled with a handkerchief and often paused to compose himself.

The 'Blade Runner's' voice was mostly soft and trembling during cross-examination.

Nel pushed Pistorius to accept responsibility for the Port Elizabeth model's death, forcing him to say the words out loud.

The athlete, however, stood his ground, looking past the prosecutor by speaking directly to the judge.

PISTORIUS CONCEDES

The prosecutor tried to undermine the athlete's version of events on the night he shot and killed Steenkamp.

Nel started off his line of questioning asking whether Pistorius testified about what he remembered or if some of it had been reconstructed.

Nel questioned the athlete about the incident, with the 'Blade Runner' insisting he stood by his version.

Pistorius came under fire for inconsistencies in a statement given during his bail application last year and his testimony in court.

The prosecutor successfully picked apart parts of the athlete's affidavit, forcing the accused to make a concession.

In the affidavit, the athlete said after waking up, he went onto the balcony to collect a fan and closed the sliding door before hearing a noise.

But Pistorius on Wednesday said he never went onto the balcony.

The athlete also had to explain the discrepancy around the number of fans by saying only the larger one was outside the room, while the other was on the floor.

Video: Oscar Pistorius takes us through his house.

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