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Oscar Pistorius made no secret of the fact he owned guns.

Last summer he told how he slept with a pistol next to his bed and a machine gun by the window, as well as having cricket and baseball bats behind the door.

When a Daily Mail reporter spent time with the South African, nicknamed Blade Runner, in 2011, the weapons were out on display.

Asked what they were for, Pistorius replied: “Protection, brother. You can have all the guards in the world at the gate, but the problem is when they are in on the robbery.”

He added: “It’s usually safe in the guarded estates until that happens.”

Pistorius, 26, was referring to Silver Lakes where he lives in the hills above Pretoria, a luxury complex protected by a three-metre-high wall, an electric fence and guards on patrol.

It was the same house in which police officers found the body of the sprint runner’s girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp on Thursday morning.

The 29-year-old model and law school graduate, who had been dating Pistorius since November last year, had been shot four times in the head, chest and hand.

Neighbours reported hearing screams and gunshots at around 3am, so they called the police, who arrested the Paralympian star, charging him with murder in a story which has shocked South Africa and admirers abroad.

Pistorius became a national hero, a sports icon for triumphing over disabilities.

Born without a fibula in both legs, he became the first double leg amputee to compete with able-bodied athletes at the Olympics, reaching the 400-metre semi-finals in London last year.

He won two gold medals in the Paralympics, but also suffered his first loss over 200 metres in nine years.

It prompted a shocking outburst, questioning the legitimacy of Brazilian winner Alan Oliveira’s blades, accusing him of cheating, for which he later apologised.

As the news broke of the shooting, it was reported Pistorius had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder, a Valentine’s Day surprise gone horrendously wrong.

But police quickly distanced themselves from this, revealing officers had previously been called to the address for “domestic incidents”.

A neighbour, who didn’t want to be named, said: “It is difficult to imagine an intruder entering this community, but we live in a country where intruders can get in wherever they want to.”

As the world waits for Pistorius to reappear before Pretoria magistrates’ court, scheduled for Tuesday, more of the athlete’s darker side came to light – a picture emerged of a man who lived dangerously, who was fascinated with guns and enjoyed a playboy lifestyle.

His ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor once said the public didn’t know Pistorius as well as they thought, adding: “Oscar is certainly not what people think he is.”

When a New York Times reporter visited him for a feature two years ago, Pistorius took him to the shooting range.

Asked how often he went target shooting, the sprinter admitted: “Just sometimes when I can’t sleep.”

In a message posted on Twitter in November 2012, Pistorius wrote: “Nothing like getting home to hear the washing machine on and thinking its an intruder to go into full combat recon mode into the pantry! waa.”


Blade gunner: As Oscar Pistorius is charged with murder, TNT looks at South Africa's gun laws
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