Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius has said he shot his model girlfriend because he thought she was a robber.

The gold-medal winner, known as the Blade Runner, is accused of murdering Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria, South Africa, on Thursday.

Pistorius's lawyer read out a statement in court which gave his version of the events that led to Steenkamp's death. The 26-year-old denied murder and said the couple were "deeply in love".

In the statement, the defendant said he felt vulnerable because he was not wearing his prosthetic legs. He claimed he fired his gun into the bathroom, but then realised Steenkamp was not in his bed. He said: "It filled me with horror and fear."

Upon realising his mistake, he put on his legs, walked towards the bathroom and broke down the locked door with a cricket bat. He said he ran downstairs carrying his 29-year-old girlfriend, but "she died in my arms".

Pistorius went on: "I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder, let alone premeditated murder, as I did not plan to murder my girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp."

The couple went to sleep shortly after 10pm, Pistorius said, but in the middle of the night he woke up and thought an intruder had climbed in through his bathroom window. He said he grabbed a 9mm pistol - which he kept under his bed after receiving death threats - and made his way in the darkness towards the bathroom door. He said: "As I didn't have my prosthetic legs on I was vulnerable. I fired a shot at the toilet door and shouted to Reeva to call the police."

The defendant described how he was "absolutely mortified at the death of my beloved Reeva".

Pistorius began shaking and crying as his statement was read out, according to the South African Press Association. The bail hearing came as Steenkamp's funeral was held in her home town of Port Elizabeth.

Magistrate Desmond Nair ruled that the case was a schedule six offence - meaning premeditated murder - for the purpose of the bail hearing in Pretoria. The court hearing was adjourned until Wednesday.