Oscar Pistorius has denied murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp "in the strongest terms", according to his family and management.

A statement was released after the Olympic and Paralympic athlete appeared in court in South Africa charged with murdering Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria.

The prosecution said Pristorius is guilty of the premeditated murder of his girlfriend. As the murder charge was read out, the 400m runner was seen "sobbing uncontrollably" and holding his head in his hands.

The statement said the 26-year-old disputes the alleged murder and sends his "deepest sympathies" to the family of his late girlfriend.

It added: "Firstly, and most importantly, all our thoughts today must be with the family and friends of Reeva Steenkamp.

"Oscar Pistorius has appeared in court here in Pretoria this morning formally charged with the murder of Reeva Steenkamp. The alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms.

"He has made it very clear that he would like to send his deepest sympathies to the family of Reeva.

"He would also like to express his thanks through us today for all the messages of support he has received - but as stated our thoughts and prayers today should be for Reeva and her family - regardless of the circumstances of this terrible, terrible tragedy."

Pistorius is due to return to court for a bail hearing on 19 February. He will remain in custody at a police station in Brooklyn, Pretoria until then.

Pistorius was arrested after Steenkamp was found dead at his home with four bullet wounds. Police recovered a 9mm pistol at the scene and took the 26-year-old into custody.

South African media reported the athlete shot his girlfriend four times through a bathroom door.