Oscar Pistorius' Lawyer Barry Roux: Who Is the Man Defending Blade Runner?

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2014

Oscar Pistorius, right, talks with his attorney, Barry Roux in court on the fifth day of his trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Friday, March 7, 2014.  Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend,  Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013.  (AP Photo/Theana Breugem, Pool)
Theana Breugem/Associated Press

Barry Roux's fierce defence of Oscar Pistorius has thrust the lawyer's name into the spotlight since the start of the trial into the death of Reeva Steenkamp.

Currently laying out his case in an attempt to defend the South African "Blade Runner" from a murder charge granted after he killed girlfriend Steenkamp, the attorney's aggressive tactics and intimidating approach is causing quite a stir.

So who is the man defending Pistorius? Let's take a look.

Background and Previous Cases

Siphiwe Sibeko/Associated Press

Roux entered the Pistorius trial with 31 years of experience in law after joining the Johannesburg Bar in 1982, as reported by David Smith of The Guardian.

He was born on Nov. 21, 1955 in Mahikeng, according to eNCA, attended the Rooigrond Primary School and enrolled at Lichtenburg High School in 1973. The same report also suggests Roux gained his degree at the University of South Africa and became an advocate in 1981.

Although none of his previous cases match the global interest of Pistorius' trial—very few rarely do—Roux has completed cases for high-profile businessmen, reported by Aislinn Laing of The Telegraph:

He acted for Dave King, a Glasgow-born businessman and Rangers football club director, who was accused of defrauding the South African Revenue Service of £60m. He also represented Roger Kebble, a mining magnate, on charges of alleged tax evasion.

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Smith's report outlines Roux as a "legal gun for hire who is not motivated by altruism," a factor that has repeatedly shown itself throughout the current case.

The Oscar Pistorius Case

Theana Breugem/Associated Press

Roux has undoubtedly received greater attention than ever before during the Pistorius case. As many viewers will already be aware, his strengths lie in cross-examination skills and a willingness to speak powerfully toward those he aims to unsettle. 

He rendered Hilton Botha, the police investigation officer tasked with putting together the prosecution's bail hearing case within just six days back in 2013, to a "stuttering wreck," according to Laing. Botha has over 24 years' experience, but Roux's ability forced the officer into admitting, "I don't have any facts."

Fast-forward one year and to the current trial, his style continues to challenge those who sit before him.

Theana Breugem/Associated Press

A key part of Roux's job in the defence of Pistorius is to expose reasonable doubt in the case of the prosecution. He has therefore attempted to discredit several witnesses in week one, such as neighbour Michelle Burger.

The BBC's Andrew Harding notes the way he picks away at witnesses until they release information he can expose:

Harding also testifies to the fierce style of the defence lawyer:

Pistorius claims he killed Steenkamp by accident, mistaking her for an intruder, per BBC News. The prosecution, meanwhile, is attempting to prove the South African knowingly killed his girlfriend after an argument at his house.

Roux's personality switches from a caring bedside manner to wholly volatile. He reduced an economics lecturer to tears when she gave evidence, then followed this with a short, charm-filled exchange with a vulnerable mother, per Lucy Thornton of the Mirror.

Schalk van Zuydam/Associated Press

He appears to loosen up when a new witness begins speaking, perhaps luring them into a fall sense of security, but quickly unleashes direct, specific questions to build his case.

Thornton says Roux can go from "bumbling poodle to snarling rottweiler in seconds," while also claiming he "will go straight for the jugular" with little care of his opposition's emotional state. He repeats questions over and over again throughout each witness's change in mood to possibly unearth a different response and isn't willing to back down from the judge's pressure.

Laing suggests Roux is earning between £3,000 and £5,000 on the current trial. He is sure to continue making headlines across the next few weeks, and will face continued examination of his own from press all over the world.